On our way home from our recent holiday on Yorke Peninsula we stopped for a lunch break at Port Clinton Conservation Park, just north of Ardrossan.This conservation park stretches along the eastern part of the peninsula, between the main road south and the waterline.
The wind was still cold and we were experiencing occasional showers. Once again we decided to eat our picnic lunch in the car. This was followed by a warming cup of tea. As we sat there, windscreen wipers activated every minute or so, I did a bird list of species present, either on the tidal mudflats, in the nearby mangrove trees or in the bushland nearby.
Many of the birds I saw appeared to be resting in a position where they minimised the wind. Very few of the water birds were actually flying or swimming. Once again the list of species is not great, but you have days like that. Pity, though, I’d had 4 days in a row like that!
- Little Egret
- Little Pied Cormorant
- Pied Cormorant
- Crested Tern
- Caspian Tern
- Red-capped Plover
- Silver Gull
- Pacific Gull
- Nankeen Kestrel
- Tree Martin
- Singing Honeyeater
- Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater
- Grey Shrike-thrush
- Welcome Swallow
- Willie Wagtail
- Little Raven
- Common Starling
On the third day of our recent holiday on Yorke Peninsula we decided to go for a drive along the south coast, despite the wild, cold wind and persistent drizzling rain. At first we drove to Sultana Point on the southern edge of Edithburgh. We’d been here several times some years ago to do a spot of fishing with family. This was not a day suitable for a casual stroll on the beach, or for beach fishing. The wind was strong enough to blow one out to sea.
We stopped for only a few minutes while I scanned the beach for birds, focussing in particular on an exposed sand bar just out a way from the water’s edge. About 20 Little Pied Cormorants were trying not to get blown away. Several Silver Gulls tried to fly along against the gale. Much further out to sea a solitary Australasian Gannet was diving repeatedly into the water, as is their habit. This was a good sighting because I’ve only seen this species on a handful of occasions. It was too hazy and too far off to attempt a photo. (You can see photos of this species here.)
As we left this area and drove through the collection of holiday houses at Sultana Point I also recorded Willie Wagtail, Singing Honeyeater, Common Blackbird and Spotted Turtledove. Not a big list but the conditions were very poor. You get days like that. It makes the good birding days even greater.
I meant to post this photograph a few months ago. It was taken at Goolwa in South Australia in January. This area is a wetland area near the barrage and only a few kilometres from the mouth of the River Murray.
I’m not at all confident in identifying many of our waders and shorebirds; their plumage changes from breeding to non-breeding can be challenging at best, and confusing most of the time. I think this is a Marsh Sandpiper in non-breeding plumage. If any of my readers disagree, please use my contact email form or leave a comment and I’ll make the necessary changes on the photo and this post.
Marsh Sandpipers are widespread summer migrant to Australia during their non-breeding phase, usually from about August through to April/May. They breed in places like Austria through to northern Mongolia. From there they disperse during migration to Africa, the Indian sub-continent, south east Asia and Australia and occasionally to New Zealand. They are one of those species who annually clock up many frequent flyer points.
I’ve seen this species on a few occasions before but never had the chance to photograph it. Thanks to Rod for stopping his vintage car long enough to get these shots.
Crested Terns are found in abundant numbers around the coast of Australia. They are one of our common terns and can gather in large numbers on beaches, islands, rocky outcrops, estuaries, tidal rivers and sometimes even some way inland along rivers.
They breed in large colonies, often on off shore islands. Their nest is a scrape in the sand or on rock.
In the photo above there is a single Australian Wood Duck perching on the rock on the far left hand side.
Seeing oystercatchers always delights me. In Australia we have two main species of this family of birds: the Sooty Oystercatcher shown here and the Pied Oystercatcher. There is a third much rarer species, the South Island Pied Oystercatcher, an occasional vagrant from New Zealand. This is one for the experts; I don’t have the skills to pick the difference.
Both species of oystercatchers are found around the entire coast line of Australia where there is suitable habitat. They prefer undisturbed sandy or pebble beaches, estuaries, mudflats and the like. They tend to be found only in small numbers; single birds, pairs or small loose flocks up to about 20 birds. They tend to be wary and not easily approached.
They make a nest on the ground, a shallow hollow in the sand or in in seaweed. I am not sure whether the bird shown below was nesting or just resting and sheltering from the cold wind. Like many oystercatchers they probably nest on the islands a short distance from this point on Encounter Bay, Victor Harbor.
Pied Oystercatchers are more common than their Sooty cousins in Australia.