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.
A few weeks ago I spent a pleasant Sunday afternoon birding in and around Mannum, about a 20 minute drive north of home. The Murray River and its environment are the dominant feature of this town, an old paddle steamer port in the 1800s. I went for a walk along a walking trail on the riverside opposite the town. The trail starts just south of the ferry crossing.
I was delighted with the birding on that fine, pleasant spring day. One of the best species I saw was the Superb Fairy-wren. This stunning bird is always a good sighting and that can come up quite close in picnic areas. This family was just a little wary and it took quite a while and some patience to get several good shots of the male in all his colouful splendour.
The Murray River town of Mannum is just over an hour’s drive from Adelaide and about 20 minutes from home here in Murray Bridge. It is a relaxing riverside town still basking in its long and colourful history, especially its heyday as a river port in the paddle steamer era of the 1800s. It is still a popular boating area, though the vessels are a little faster these days – except the many houseboats which glide gracefully along the wide expanse of water.
We don’t get to Mannum often enough despite its proximity to our home. A few weeks ago I had a speaking engagement in one of the local churches. After lunch I did a few hours of birding along the river. It was a calm, sunny spring day, ideal for a spot of birding. I crossed over the river on the ferry and stopped on the bank opposite the town and just south of the ferry crossing. I went for a walk along the levee bank heading downstream.
Despite being mid afternoon the birds were extremely cooperative and I managed a good list with the bonus of a few good photos as well. One species hard to get posing in good light and close enough was the Red-rumped Parrots. A small flock of about 10 individuals was feeding on the grass near the walking track. eventually I managed one reasonable shot – and plenty of not-for-showing-here kind of shots.
You have days like that.
Yesterday I had the delight of being the guest speaker at the Mannum Garden Club. The small river port of Mannum is less than an easy half hour drive from my home. Like Murray Bridge, it is situated on the banks of the River Murray here in South Australia.
I should add that the speaking duties were actually shared with my wife. Almost exactly three years ago I spoke to the group about Australian birds, so this was an invite back to this very friendly group. I modified my talk this time around, talking about how to attract birds to our gardens, in particular native species. Because my wife accompanied me – and shared in the talk – I tapped into her expertise in the area of native Australian plants. We focussed on those species we knew would grow well in the area, and which would attract our birds. We made a good speaking team and were well received.
And the chats over morning tea were engaging – made even more pleasant by the lavish good old country style cooked cakes and biscuits.
I have another talk about birds coming up at the end of June to another group here in Murray Bridge, and just a short while ago had a call from the president of the local bird club, asking me to speak again at their meeting in two weeks’ time.
Offer: I’m getting to be quite in demand as a guest speaker. Book me up while I still have vacancies in my diary. I’ll even travel interstate if a plane ticket is included in the deal!
Instead of photos of birds today, I thought I treat my readers to some of the flower photos I showed the group yesterday. Enjoy.