A few days ago I wrote about a recent visit to Peterborough in the mid-north of South Australia. During that visit I spent a short time birding in the Victoria Park, a delightful spot next to the local swimming pool and caravan park. Because of the artificial lake and trees planted in the park there is usually a good range of local birds, including a few water birds in and around the lake.
Included in this range of birds are a few introduced species, notably and large flock of Mallard ducks. I have shown several in today’s photos. In the photo below is a completely white duck, species unknown. If any of my readers can enlighten me I will label it correctly. It is obviously an introduced species, one of many ducks kept in captivity here in Australia. The closest I can come to a name is Pekin Duck. Any ideas, please?
Over the last few days we have been visiting family in Peterborough in the mid-north of South Australia. This is where my wife grew up and over the years we have visited on many occasions. This area has many of the bird species seen in the southern parts of the state but being near to the edge of the northern, drier parts of South Australia, there is a range of dry-land species as well.
The Apostlebird is not common in South Australia and I only know of a few locations where they can be reliably observed, Peterborough being one of them. Because our visit coincided with some very cold weather I didn’t venture out birding much during our three day stay, except for once when it cleared up and the sun emerged, albeit weakly. I will write about that excursion in a day or two.
As we were about to leave this morning, we lingered in the morning sun in the back garden checking out a few plants. Suddenly we observed a small flock of 6 Apostlebirds in a fruit tree just over the side fence in a neighbour’s garden. The birds just sat there preening their feathers for about five minutes before flying off again.
My sister-in-law works in the local hospital and often observes these birds in the grounds of the hospital. On one occasion recently she rang us to tell us that the Apostlebirds had visited her garden and were hopping around her as she watched.
This behaviour is consistent with my experiences elsewhere; they can be quite gregarious and quite unafraid when approaching humans, especially when food is on offer. When camping in the Hattah-Kulkyne National Park (NW Victoria) on a number of occasions years ago we experienced this species hopping onto our picnic table trying to have a share in our food. The photo above shows several birds I saw in the Western Plains Zoo car park in Dubbo, NSW, just a short distance from where several picnicking groups had been.
Our sighting in Peterborough this morning was a lovely end to a relaxing few days with family.
Whenever we camped at or visited Lake Hattah in the Hattah-Kulkyne National Park in Victoria we always looked forward to seeing the family of Apostlebirds occupying the camping ground. They are gregarious and noisy, often bossing other species out of any food scraps we may drop on the ground.
As we drive over to visit our family in Sydney we start looking for this species along the road between Hay and Narrandera. On most trips we get good views of them crossing the road in front of our car as we speed along.
As a result of these regular sightings we have become rather attracted to these interesting birds. Part of this fascination is that they make a bowl shaped mud nest; very few Australian birds construct their nest with mud. The other fascinating aspect of this species is that they are relatively uncommon here in South Australia.
For some years I have known of a family living around the gardens and grounds of the Peterborough Hospital in the mid-north of the state. My sister-in-law is the cook at the hospital, and she has told me that these bold birds will even come onto the veranda and into through the doors of the wards which open onto the veranda. Over recent years we have visited our relatives a number of times, and despite searching the area I have failed each time to see these birds – except once many years ago.
Many years ago I did manage to record Apostlebirds near the township, but this was in the early 1980s and again in the 1990s. Even earlier than that I saw them during a family picnic at Dawson Gorge, about 30km north-east of Peterborough.
In recent months, however, there have been a growing number of reports of this species in other spots in the mid-north, including Gladstone, Laura, Stone Hut and more recently at Watervale. On a recent visit to my daughter in Clare we went for a drive through this area. As we drove through Gladstone, I was pleased to see two Apostlebirds fly across the road in front of the car.
It seems that this species is expanding its range here in South Australia.
This post is long overdue. I’ve been busy.
Over the recent Easter long weekend we went to stay with our daughter in Clare in the mid-north of South Australia. On the Sunday we travelled further north to the town of Peterborough. This was where my wife grew up and in the intervening years we’ve visited many times, usually to visit family still living there.
On this occasion we also visited family and we went to see a number of exhibitions which made up a part of their annual arts festival. It left very little time for birding.
We did spend a few minutes driving through Victoria Park, an artificial lake (shown above) being the main feature of this picnic area. Due to time restraints I didn’t even have time to get out of the car, taking several shots through the window.
The photo above is unexciting as far as birds is concerned: a few Pacific Black Ducks, Grey Teal and introduced geese and mallards. The only bird of any interest was the solitary Black-tailed Native-hen feeding on the lawn. It partially disappeared from view before I could focus on it – see below.
It kind of summed up a rather poor birding day. Still, I shouldn’t complain; the art exhibitions were very interesting, and the dinner cooked by my sister-in-law was wonderful, so it wasn’t a wasted day after all.
Over the Easter weekend earlier this year we were staying with our daughter in Clare in the mid-north of South Australia. While there we took a day trip to Peterborough just over an hour north of Clare. This was to visit family living there.
On the northern outskirts of the town we visited the ruins of the first house my wife lived in when she was a little girl. Near to ruins I wandered through some of the nearby scrub, an area I did extensive birding in many years ago. I was delighted to get close-up views of several Southern Whitefaces (shown in the photos today).
Southern Whitefaces are widespread in the more arid regions of the southern half of Australia. They are widespread and can be locally common in some areas of suitable habitat.