Last week I attended the 2010 Adelaide Writers’ Week. This popular event is an important feature of the Festival of Arts held here every two years. Writers and readers come from all over Australia and attendees are treated to a large contingent of guest speakers, some Australian but many from overseas, with a sprinkling of local talent. Writers for children are conspicuous by their absence.
This event is spread over six days and is held in the Pioneer Women’s Memorial Gardens in the beautiful park-lands of Adelaide, just an easy five minute stroll from the CBD. All sessions are free – except for several evening sessions in the Town Hall. Panel discussions, book launches and meet-the-author sessions are run concurrently in two large marquees set up on the lawn, while a third is the book tent where you can buy the books of guest speakers and get them signed. There is also a catering tent for food and drinks.
While attending three days of this year’s Writers’ Week I was able to position myself during most sessions where I was also able to see out of the tents and observe the passing bird life. Being set in the gardens, and very close to the River Torrens, I was able to get a nice little list of bird seen. Below is an annotated list.
Galah: small groups seen flying over head along the river.
Rainbow Lorikeets: fast flying flocks seen and heard over head and feeding in nearby trees.
Noisy Miner: several heard calling from nearby trees. Interestingly I only saw one bird.
Australian Pelican: two seen gliding low over the river where they presumably landed (the trees obscured my view).
Sulphur-crested Cockatoos: several small flocks of 4-8 flew noisily overhead.
Australian Magpie: two heard carolling in nearby trees and several feeding on nearby lawns.
Silver Gulls: one or two seen often flying over head or along the river.
Australian Wood Duck: flock of about a dozen feeding on the grass within a few metres of the tent, quite unperturbed by the large numbers of people.
Black Swan: One seen sitting on the grass near where I parked the car next to the river (I was lucky enough to get a park each day very close to the venue).
Welcome Swallows: About 5 seen flying over the river.
Crested Pigeon: one seen feeding on the grass near the tents.
Pacific Black Ducks: Two flew between the tents at just over head height, narrowly missing people as they mingled near the Book Tent.
Little Pied Cormorant: one seen flying over the river.
Today I attended the Thursday sessions of Writers’ Week in Adelaide. This is a regular feature of the Adelaide Festival of Arts which is held every two years. Prominent writers from all over Australia and selected writers from overseas are invited to be guest speakers. Previously I have been unable to attend because of work commitments.
Writers’ week is held in a beautiful section of Adelaide’s parklands, about 200 metres across the road from the Festival Centre and about five minute’s walk from the CBD. While I primarily attended to hear the speakers talking about their writing and books, birders like me are naturally always on the lookout for birds flying around. As the tents where the sessions are held are open sided, the birds are easy to observe.
The most conspicuous species was the Rock Dove. Groups of three to five flew overhead or around the nearby buildings every minute or so. The next common species was the Rainbow Lorikeet. Small flocks of up to six or eight went screeching from tree to tree at least every five minutes. Noisy Miners squabbled and carried on in nearby trees all day. I was surprised none came down to the lawn to search for dropped food. Perhaps the large crowd was too intimidating even for them. I also observed two Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos over the Torrens River, several Adelaide Rosellas (a sub-species of the Crimson Rosella) flying nearby and a single Magpie Lark. Surprisingly, I also saw only one Crested Pigeon all day. They are a very common species in the parklands.
The most unexpected sighting was a Brush-Tailed Possum. It came scampering across the grass from the back of the Governor’s residence, through the chairs of about a dozen attendees, and disappeared up one of the beautiful palm trees in that part of the garden. These mammals are essentially nocturnal, so that makes the sighting even more interesting.
- Rainbow Lorikeets – at Wittunga Botanic Gardens
- Great Birding Moments – Noisy Miner (a species of honeyeater).
- Great Birding Moments – Crested Pigeons