It has been a while.
It has been far too long since I last posted an article here on this site. It has not been an easy year for me so far (read here to find out why). But now I am back and keen to post many more bird photos here, as well as relate some highlights of my travels and birding experiences.
A special birthday
Last week my family celebrated my grandson’s 10th birthday, so I just had to come over from South Australia to Sydney for the occasion. It’s a 14 hour, two-day drive so it is not a trivial undertaking. This was my first big trip by myself, so I decided to take three days and take it easy. I am pleased that I did because I saw a few birding highlights along the way. More of that in coming posts.
The birthday party was held in a park near my son’s home and it was very successful – despite the rain trying to spoil it. The invited guests were determined to have a good time, and they did not to let the rain spoil their fun. It was a huge success and the food was also great. Love party food.
Lake Roberts, Lameroo
When I left home in Murray Bridge last week, my first stop was at Lake Roberts on the edge of Lameroo, a small farming based community in the eastern part of South Australia. I stopped for a break and a cup of tea. As I was having my morning tea, I made a list of the birds seen and heard. I also grabbed my camera and took a few photos. The photo above is a general shot of the artificial lake. Behind me is a small caravan park and to my left is a picnic area with tables seats covered by a roof.
My bird list for the twenty-minute stay is not long, nor is it exciting – except for one bird.
Australian Magpie (both white-backed and black-backed)
It is the last species which grabbed my attention.
I have visited this spot on many occasions on my trips to and from Sydney. This is the first time I have recorded a Whiskered Tern in this spot, and although it is a widespread species throughout much of Australia, it was an unexpected extra on this occasion. The photos are not great, unfortunately. Many of the photos were taken at extreme zoom, and are therefore not great.
The shot above is the one occasion that the solitary bird came to rest on the small beach along the edge of the lake. For the rest of the time, it kept flying around the perimeter of the small lake, diving into the water every ten seconds or so. I am not sure what it caught to eat, but it was quite persistent in this behaviour for most of the time I watched it. One of the better photos of it flying is shown below.
(Note to self: try to master photographing birds in flight.)
I didn’t have much time to photograph all of the other species present on this visit. I have shown some of them below. One species not listed above is the Muscovy Duck. This is a feral bird found in a few places around Australia, usually near farmhouses, dams and artificial lakes and ponds. It is native to Mexico, Central and South America. Feral populations exist in many countries, mainly as a result of releases by people or escapes from farms and gardens.
Sydney Trip Report June 2011
The various races of Australian Magpies make a fascinating – albeit confusing – study. Here in Murray Bridge, South Australia, the magpies are almost all of the White-backed variety. The further one drives east, the Black-backed magpies become the dominant race until over in Victoria and into NSW they are all Black-backed Magpies. Travelling north into Queensland or south into Victoria and the races (and amounts of black v. white change). Travel to Western Australia and the races change again. It can be quite confusing , especially when the races interbreed. Layer upon this the colour variations of juveniles and you have a recipe for a headache trying to identify which race you are seeing.
On our trip to Sydney earlier this year we stopped for morning tea at Lameroo in eastern South Australia. In the picnic grounds of Lake Roberts I took the photos on this post of a nicely coloured male Black-backed Magpie (see above and below). Interestingly, it was accompanying a White-backed female (see photo below). They were feeding together. I wish I was visiting Lameroo in the coming weeks to see if these two individuals breed together, or are just being sociable (as magpies are known to do).
Special offer: A few months ago I reviewed a wonderful book about Australian Magpies called The fearsome flute players. You can read the review and order the book by clicking here. There is a special offer when you mention you heard about the book on Trevor’s Birding.
Sydney Trip Report June 2011
As I wrote yesterday, we stopped at Lameroo on the first morning of our trip to Sydney earlier this year. Lake Roberts on the eastern edge of town is a good birding spot with a mixture of bush birds and water birds inhabiting this artificial wetland area. On most of my visits I have seen at least two Masked Lapwings. They feed on the grassed area around the lake and picnic area. Behind me where I took these photos is the small caravan park which is also a grassed area. Last year we saw several chicks in the caravan park, running after the adults.
We stayed at this spot for about 20 minutes while we had a cuppa and morning tea. The following is a list of birds observed during that time:
- Black-shouldered Kite
- Brown Falcon
- Nankeen Kestrel
- Little Pied Cormorant
- Muscovy Duck (introduced species)
- Masked Lapwing
- Rock Dove (introduced species)
- Crested Pigeon
- Variegated Fairy-wren
- Red Wattlebird
- Magpie Lark
- Australian Magpie (both Black-backed and White-backed)
- Little Raven
- White-winged Chough
- Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
Some of these were seen in the town or on the road leading into town and not at the lake.
Sydney Trip Report June 2011
Over the coming few weeks I will intersperse my usual sightings around home with a series of trip reports when we went to visit family in Sydney in June earlier this year. I’ve been both busy and unwell so these reports are a little overdue. Never mind; I’m much better now and getting back into adding regular postings here.
On the first day of our trip we drove from home in Murray Bridge to Lameroo in eastern South Australia. We stopped for a cuppa and morning tea at Lake Roberts on the eastern edge of Lameroo, a farming community in the Murray Mallee region. I always like stopping here as you never know what birds are around.
This time I observed a Muscovy Duck near the edge of the lake and it seems it was sitting on a nest (see photo above). This is an introduced species in Australia and there are only a few feral populations away from farmyards. It is commonly kept on farms and in backyards as pets and are edible and are sometimes kept as meat birds. You can find out more about keeping them as pets by clicking here.
Road trip to Sydney, May 2010
On the first morning of our recent road trip to Sydney we stopped at Lameroo near the eastern border of South Australia, just over an hour’s travel from our home in Murray Bridge. We briefly stopped for morning tea and to change drivers. Our favourite stopping point in this delightful country town is at Lake Roberts on the eastern edge of town. This is an artificial lake and is next to the golf course. The picnic grounds also incorporate a small caravan park.
Over a number of visits here in recent years I have recorded some interesting bird sightings. One can usually record several of the mallee species, such as various honeyeaters. The lake usually contains a reasonable level of water and this attracts a range of water-birds too. On this occasion there was a solitary Australasian Grebe in breeding plumage (photo above).
This species of grebe can be found throughout Australia, including Tasmania, wherever there are suitable conditions. They can be found on small farm dams, small lakes and ponds, larger bodies of fresh water such as wetlands and sometimes on larger reservoirs and rivers. Although this individual was in breeding plumage, I didn’t have the time to investigate if there was a nest nearby. If there was, it was probably located in the reeds at the southern end of the lake.
Species list (each bird listed is linked to another article for further reading):