I took this photo at the very end of our boat trip earlier this year. We had travelled across Lake Alexandrina, along the River Murray past Goolwa to the Murray Mouth and through the Coorong.
As we approached the boat ramp next to the Narrung ferry (SE of Adelaide) this lone Little Black Cormorant was waiting for my camera while deciding whether he needed to fly away from our boat, or not. Looking at the mess on the signs, it is obvious that this is a common resting spot for many birds.
On our recent boat trip we passed through the Goolwa barrages and headed south along the Coorong towards the mouth of the River Murray. It is here that Australia’s largest river empties into the Southern Ocean. As we travelled along we followed the line of sand hills which separate the Coorong from the ocean. It places these sand hills are spectacular – more of that for another post.
all along this stretch of the Coorong it is hard keeping up with all the birds one sees, especially seeing we were travelling most of the time at 25mph. On several occasions we had to slow down to slow walking pace and keep a sharp eye out for sand bars; more than once we almost became grounded.
In the photo above you can see a Little Egret, some Grey Teal and a Eurasian Coot just to the right of the sign.
Below the photo shows several Australian pelicans and a Masked Lapwing on the right. Almost impossible to see (except under extreme enlargement) are what look like Sharp-tailed Sandpipers and maybe a stilt.
A little further on we reached the mouth of the Murray. Our captain was unwilling to venture too close for fear of bottoming out on a sand bar. I was surprised by the number of vehicles on the beach and the number of people fishing along the shore of the river. I shouldn’t have been – it was a holiday long weekend and the weather was perfect.
The last photo below shows one of the tourist boats operating in this part of the river, The Spirit of the Coorong. It takes tourists from Goolwa down through the Coorong on a regular schedule.
On our boat trip on the River Murray a few weeks ago we went through the lock in the barrages at Goolwa. This allowed us to pass through from the River Murray into the Coorong and travel by boat towards the mouth of the river. Today’s photos show many birds lined up along the top of the barrages.
In the photo above you can see a number of Australian Pelicans, while below is a large gathering of cormorants. Although I’m not absolutely certain, I think that they are probably Little Black Cormorants. They don’t seem to be big enough for the larger Great Cormorant.
On our recent boat trip on Lake Alexandrina and the River Murray we took a little detour into a new housing estate with water frontage. We had to slow right down from the 25mph we had been travelling at to a very modest 4 knots (7.4mph). We also had to navigate a narrow canal less than 10m wide so this gave me an ideal opportunity to do some close up birding.
Unfortunately there was very little to see, with the exception of the Purple Swamphen shown in today’s photos below. It seemed quite unconcerned by our presence as our captain manoeuvred our boat through a tricky passage before turning around and leaving the channel and back out to the river.
I meant to post this photograph a few months ago. It was taken at Goolwa in South Australia in January. This area is a wetland area near the barrage and only a few kilometres from the mouth of the River Murray.
I’m not at all confident in identifying many of our waders and shorebirds; their plumage changes from breeding to non-breeding can be challenging at best, and confusing most of the time. I think this is a Marsh Sandpiper in non-breeding plumage. If any of my readers disagree, please use my contact email form or leave a comment and I’ll make the necessary changes on the photo and this post.
Marsh Sandpipers are widespread summer migrant to Australia during their non-breeding phase, usually from about August through to April/May. They breed in places like Austria through to northern Mongolia. From there they disperse during migration to Africa, the Indian sub-continent, south east Asia and Australia and occasionally to New Zealand. They are one of those species who annually clock up many frequent flyer points.
I’ve seen this species on a few occasions before but never had the chance to photograph it. Thanks to Rod for stopping his vintage car long enough to get these shots.