As the year is drawing to a close we're still looking for those extra few birds to add to our year lists and waders are still by far the biggest group of birds with potential. So based on that we're still hitting the northern gulf areas to trawl through all the birds we can find to try and reveal a gem amongst them.
Saturday came and we opted to visit Buckland Park Lake. This area used to be accessible from the Saltfields that we used to enjoy unfettered access to in times gone by but sadly no longer. The Lake now has since been incorporated into the Parks and Wildlife system and has been dedicated as a Conservation Park. Good news for us as it can harbour some good birds at various times of the year and is the place I got Pectoral Sandpiper way back at the start of the year. Sue unfortunately missed that bird so that was what we hoped to find. Pectoral Sandpipers can be quite parochial in their haunts and often turn up in the same locations each year.
We walked in from the northern boundary and marvelled at the sheer amount of birds on the lake with loads of Ducks and Swans in particular but just not that many waders. We walked around to the area I'd seen both Pectoral Sandpiper and Long-toed Stints earlier in the year but despite there being a few birds here none of them where the target bird we were hoping for. Nor did we find anything else of note in the way of waders. A single Sandpiper in the poor light did raise some interest but a series of photographs later showed a well marked Sharp-tailed Sandpiper.
|At a distance in poor light this Sharp-tailed Sandpiper look good for Pec.......but not|
A nice group of ten Glossy Ibis were of local interest but there wasn't much else on offer so we headed off further up the Gulf to Bald Hill Beach. The tide was still out a fair way here when we arrived but still rising so we sat for a while to see what Shorebirds were around. As it turned out not a lot of birds at all and most of the Grey Plover that were there flew off to points unknown rather than loaf on the beach. With not much to show for our efforts we decided to drive around to Port Clinton stopping in at Port Arthur on the way. The tide had risen significantly by the time we got around there and we found a good number of Stints and Curlew Sandpipers roosting along the high tide line.
|A few Curlew Sandpipers amongst the Red-necked stints at Port Arthur|
Nothing unusual amongst those birds so we carried on to Port Clinton for the end of the day. The three Grey-tailed Tattlers that are always roosting near the mangroves where again found in the same spot. Along the southern end of the beach we relocated two of the Greater Sand Plovers that have been hanging around for the last month and a lone Far Eastern Curlew. So sadly no Whimbrel or anything else of note so we headed home and hoped tomorrow would bring us more luck.
Very early Sunday morning we drove down to the northern suburb of Prospect to have another go for the reported Koel that has been seen and heard on and off for the past month or so and apparently being joined by a female! We listened intently in the predawn light hoping to pick up the familiar sound of a calling Koel but not this morning!. This species continues to elude us not only this year but in years gone by..........frustrating. We headed home for breakfast and waited for the afternoon high tide before heading up the Gulf one more time. This time we started at Port Parham as we hadn't been there so far this year. Probably a good reason why we hadn't because there were no migratory shorebirds of any description to be seen!
|The expansive sand/mud flats of Port Parham. Completely devoid of birds!!!|
With nothing at all on offer here we worked our way down to Thompsons beach where we found a good flock of birds on the southern end of the beach. There were several hundred Red Knot and nearly forty Bar-tailed Godwits with a handful of Great knots thrown in. Always nice to see but just nothing else of any interest at all.
|Thompsons Beach can be quite reliable for Knots and Godwits. |
At least when people aren't trying to cannon net them!!
|Red knots and Bar-tailed Godwits on a fly past.|
We thought we would try to access Thompsons beach from the southern end via Port Prime so we drove out on the main Thompson Beach Rd towards Dublin. As we neared the town the unmistakable shape of a Bustard loomed in to view in a paddock just off the side of the road so we pulled over.
|A very rare occurrence on the Adelaide Plains, this Bustard was quite a good find.|
|Easily the bird of the day and great to see, but sadly not a year tick!!|
We reported the sighting online while still in the field and several people did try to find it the next morning but it was nowhere to be seen so we considered ourselves very lucky. Nothing to see at Port Prime either so we headed home with our tails between our legs having endured a tickless weekend.
The following week I was away for work over on Eyre Peninsula and although I didn't have time for birding I did manage to see a few birds while driving around. At the bottom of Eyre Peninsula between Wanilla and Port Lincoln the road cuts right through the middle of Big Swamp. This is a well known site in birding circles but is probably somewhat under watched. The number of birds around forced me to stop and have a look and as I had my bins and scope with me just in case, they proved to be quite handy. I scanned the shoreline on the north side of the road to see if any shorebirds were around and while it took me a while to get my eye in it seemed there were a few. Virtually the first bird I saw chest on peeked my interest straight away and getting the scope on it I confirmed what I suspected. A male Pectoral Sandpiper!!! but where was Sue? at work back in Adelaide :( The bird was quite distant for photographs but I did manage a few record shots as it was indeed a good record. Other birds here though were two Long-toed Stints as well, the first I'd seen this season and also a good record. Several Sharpies and up to seven Wood Sandpipers were also in attendance along with Ducks of various species, Whiskered Terns and a huge mob of Cape Barren Geese on the far shore. I had to report back to Sue and I wasn't too popular as she still needs this bird to equal my score.
|A male Pectoral Sandpiper at Big Swamp Eyre Peninsula. Still not on Sues list|
After the week away was over I got home late Friday and we'd planned to go to the south-east one more time as we had three days off and a scheduled pelagic trip on the Sunday..... the last trip of the year and one that carries the weight of expectation. There is still a Pectoral Sandpiper down there too and a few at Tolderol Game Reserve so there are still opportunities for Sue to pick up this bird. Stay tuned to see how that went in the next post