In my last post, I wrote about our weekend at Brighton Beach in the southern parts of Adelaide. During our short caravan holiday with a group of friends, we stayed in the Brighton Caravan Park – which is actually in the suburb of Kingston Park. During the weekend, most of my time was occupied chatting with my friends. We spent quite a few hours in our comfortable folding chairs, sitting at the top of the beach watching the passing parade of people walking, running, playing in the water and various water sports. Included in this constantly changing scene were various birds, mostly seabirds.
Probably the most common birds were the Silver Gulls and Crested Terns shown in the photo above. from time to time I would also see immature Pacific Gulls, as well as the occasional Little Pied Cormorant. There was an area of exposed rocky outcrops at low tide, and for much of the weekend, two Masked Lapwings spent many hours foraging for food in the seaweed and rocks. I have shown one of the birds in the photo below. I am amazed at how well camouflaged this bird is against the surrounding rocks.
On the Sunday afternoon, most of our friends went for walks along the beach. I also decided to go for a short stroll, taking photos as scenes presented themselves. The tide was slowly coming in, covering some of the rocky areas and sandbars, providing a smaller area for the roosting birds. I sat on a nearby rock for over half an hour, photographing birds, people, and boats.
A few weeks ago I spent an enjoyable afternoon birding in and around Mannum, about 20 minutes drive north of home. It was a beautiful spring day with bright clear sky, a gentle breeze and plenty of birds. I sat for a while in the Mary Ann Reserve on the river front, watching and photographing the birds on, over and near the Murray River.
I was rather puzzled by the behaviour of several species of birds in and over the water. Several Little Pied Cormorants and Little Black Cormorants were swimming around in the one spot about 30 metres out into the water. I can only assume they were fishing but I didn’t actually see one catch a fish. Over head several White-necked Herons and one Great Egret flew around low over the water sometimes almost landing and snapping at the cormorants in the water. A Silver Gull even joined in, harassing the heron as they flew (see photo below).
The White-necked Heron was an interesting sighting for me. It’s been one of my bogey birds over the last 25 years. I went from 1987 to 2001 without seeing a single one of them. Then only one – with another 6 year wait to see another one! Unbelievable. In fact in more than 35 years of birding I’ve only ever seen this species about 20 times. Then on this day at Mannum I saw 4 all flying around in close proximity. Unreal.
Sydney Trip Report June 2011
On our trip to Sydney earlier this year we visited Darling Harbour in the heart of Sydney. Many people were gathered there for the Jazz and Blue Festival. In addition to the human audience, these two Silver Gulls seemed to be enjoying the free music too.
In addition to the many Silver Gulls around the harbour, I also saw plenty of White Ibis, Australian Ravens, Rock Doves and those pesky Common Mynas.
This just proves the versatility of this hobby called birding; you can watch birds anywhere.
Sometimes, I feel that the birds are watching us!
At one stage while travelling along the south coast of Yorke Peninsula we pulled off the main road and drove down a rough dirt track towards the beach (see photo below). A solitary juvenile Pacific Gull was feeding on the sand. This species is found along coastal NSW, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and southern Western Australia. While it is widespread it is not present in large numbers in most places. It is usual to see only one or two birds at a time.
The photo above shows the bird in the juvenile plumage which indicates a first year bird. For the next 3 years a variety of plumages stages can be seen, from the chocolate brown through to mottled brown and white until the full adult plumage is developed. Below I have included several photos of two birds in adult plumage at Victor Harbor earlier this year.
On our recent holiday on Yorke Peninsula we struck a weekend of wild weather. On Sunday morning the wind was blowing a gale and constant misty showers scudded across the sea and over the adjacent farmland. Undeterred we still went out for a drive knowing that this was the only way we would get to see anything. Walking was really not a pleasant option.
We stopped to have a cuppa at Sheoak Beach, parking the car so that we could sit in relative comfort out of the wind and rain – and yet be able to see the water and any birds on the beach. There was not much to see.
A few Australian Pelicans sheltered from the wind behind some seaweed tossed up on the beach (see photo below). A small flock of Crested Terns sat on the beach looking most uncomfortable in the atrocious conditions. Several Sooty Oystercatchers were hunched up against the wind too, and a few Silver Gulls valiantly tried to fly along the beach. A White-faced Heron also bravely battled against the wind.
As we drove off I opened the driver’s side window a little as it was on the leeward side. This was so I could add a few species I heard calling or saw as we drove along slowly. I saw several Singing Honeyeaters, Rock Doves and heard a Common Skylark calling out in a nearby field.
As you can see in the photos on this post, the conditions for photography were far from ideal, the misty rain making it impossible to get good shots.
Some birding days are like that.