Apostlebirds just puddling around
Over recent post I have written about some birding I did while visiting family in Peterborough in early March. Peterborough is in the mid-north of South Australia and is just over three hours drive from home in Murray Bridge which is south-east of Adelaide. We were staying with family and while there my wife attended a quilting seminar.
Early one morning during our stay I headed off to do some birding before the heat of the day. One of the places I often visit while in the town is Victoria Park. This park has an artificial lake and is adjacent to the caravan park and the swimming pool. It is one of several quite reliable places to see Apostlebirds.
Apostlebirds are quite common in some other states, especially New South Wales. In South Australia, however, the species is uncommon. It can only be found in about a dozen or so locations in the whole state. Recent observations could indicate that it is becoming more common and is extending its range.
There appear to be several family groups in and around the town of Peterborough. These groups can be fairly mobile over quite a range covering most of the town and the immediate environs. One of the most reliable spots seems to be around Victoria Park where I took these photos, and in or near the grounds of the hospital.
As we were approaching the town late in the afternoon of the previous day, we encountered a heavy downpour as we drove along. I actually had to reduce the car’s speed to drive safely. The next morning, there were still quite a few puddles left around town, including a few large ones in the park. The Apostlebirds were having a great time paddling in the water, as were several other species. I didn’t stay long enough to see if they took advantage of the puddles to make one of their mud nests. I guess that this group didn’t really need to because they have a constant supply of mud from the edges of the lake only 20 metres from where these shots were taken.
A bunch of thirsty Galahs
In my post a few days ago I posted several photos of several Mallee Ringnecks taken just north of Peterborough in the mid-north of South Australia. As I left the reserve where I took those photos, I drove slowly along the dirt road back towards the town. I stopped several times to take a few photos of the local birds.
This was early in March and we were having a particularly hot spell of weather. By the time I had left the nature reserve, the air was beginning to really heat up. I thought that it might be prudent to head back to my brother-in-law’s home and lay low during the worst of the heat. On my way home, I spotted several small flocks of Galahs having a drink at several old baths in the nearby paddocks. The local farmers had placed these bath tubs in their horse paddocks, brought the water pipe to the bathtubs, installed floats and thus provided a water source for their horses and sheep.
Naturally, the Galahs have endorsed this installation by also indulging in an early morning drink before the heat of the day to come. The second photo (the one immediately below) is unfortunately spoiled by the thin line of the fencing wire passing across the face of two of the birds. I did not notice this when taking the photo. It was only when I downloaded the photo and enlarged it on my computer that I noticed the wire. Such are the hazards of photography.
A very noisy Mallee Ringneck
On the first weekend of March earlier this year my wife and I travelled to Peterborough in the mid-north of South Australia. My wife was attending a quilting seminar and we stayed with family while there. While she was attending the seminar I did a few hours of birding around town before the day became too hot.
The first place I ventured to was the Greg Duggan Reserve on Lookout Hill on the northern outskirts of town. This lookout gives a great view in all directions over the adjacent farming country surrounding the town. This small reserve is also a fine retreat for some of the local birds with over 70 species having been recorded there over the years. I had a good look around and managed a few good photos of a Western Grey Kangaroo (see photo below).
As I was leaving the lookout, which has a good ramp with wheelchair access, I heard the unmistakable and noisy call of a Mallee Ringneck Parrot. With very little effort I tracked it down and managed a few good photos which I have shown above and below. Next thing this bird was joined in a noisy duet with another bird which was walking along the railing of the lookout (see photo below). This chorus continued for several minutes before both birds flew off towards the town.
On our property in Murray Bridge, we have a noisy family of Mallee Ringneck parrots which are a resident breeding species in our garden. We get a little annoyed with them when they nibble at our pears as they are ripening on the trees. Mallee Ringnecks are a widespread species in the drier mallee areas of Australia. The Mallee Ringnecks are a sub-species of the Australian Ringneck, a widespread species with several other sub-species.
For more about the fauna of the Greg Duggan Reserve in Peterborough read my article called The Wildlife in the Greg Duggan Nature Reserve.
A very short birding trip in Peterborough
Last week we spent several days visiting family in Peterborough in the mid-north of South Australia. The main focus of this trip was a belated Christmas family get together. My son’s family who were over from Sydney for a few weeks was the main focus, but it was also great to catch up with family members on my wife’s side of the family.
The weather was far too hot to do anything other than casual birding in the back yard. The only interesting sighting over the four days was a solitary Little Eagle soaring majestically overhead early one morning. The Peterborough area is an interesting region from a birding point of view. While many of the species seen further south are present, one can also see some of the more arid region birds around the town and in the nearby farming areas. This is about as far south as some of these arid dwelling birds venture.
One spot I always try to check out when visiting Peterborough is Victoria Park. This park, next to the town’s lovely swimming pool and caravan park features an artificial lake (see photo above). On and around this lake I have recorded quite a good range of water birds, one of the few spots in the region with enough water to sustain a small population of such species.
On this occasion we were actually on our way home. We left early to beat most of the heat of later in the day. I only drove though the park and didn’t actually stop. I guess that our visit was no longer than 2 minutes – if that. During that short time I saw the following species:
- White-winged Chough
- Australian Magpie
- Black-tailed Native-hen
- Pacific Black Duck
- Australian Wood Duck
- Australian Magpie Lark
- Crested Pigeon
- Red Rumped Parrot
- Red Wattlebird
- Little Raven
It is not a long list but it does contain two interesting sightings.
While Apostlebirds are quite common in the eastern parts of Australia, they are relatively rare in South Australia. They can only be seen in a handful of places. I have recorded them in the following locations:
- Taplan (SE of Loxton),
- Gladstone (mid-north of SA),
- Laura (just north of Gladstone)
- Stone Hut (just north of Laura)
- Appila (north of Gladstone)
- Peterborough (various locations around the town and district)
- Dawson Gorge (NE of Peterborough)
Several other locations have been reported by other birders in recent years. Peterborough is one of the more reliable spots for this species in South Australia. Over recent years I have seen the species in at least five spots around the town. You can read more about this species – go to the further reading section below.
On my recent visit to Victoria Park in Peterborough I saw about 5 Black-tailed Native-hens. I have seen this species on quite a few visits to this park. While the species is not rare it is unusual to see them in such a dry region as this. I suspect that these birds may actually be a resident breeding species. In some places, if the conditions are right, they can breed rapidly and within a short space of time number in the hundreds and even in the thousands. On previous visit to this park I have seen 20 – 50 birds.
- Apostlebirds in Peterborough
- Apostlebirds by the dozen
- Apostlebirds at Taplan in the Murray Mallee
- Apostlebirds in South Australia
Random bird photos at Peterborough
Over recent days I have posted a few photos of some birds taken on a recent visit to Peterborough. On this visit we were visiting relatives for a few days. Peterborough is in the mid-north of South Australia. One of the spots I always like to check out is Victoria Park near the swimming pool and caravan park.
Many years ago the local council made a very pleasant park, including lawned picnic areas, barbecue facilities and an artificial lake. This water attracts quite a range of water-birds as well as providing drinking water for many of the local bush species such as pigeons, honeyeaters, ravens and magpies.
Today I thought I would share some random photos taken on this most recent visit.