Birding in the South East

Australia day started out as overcast and cool as we headed for the Lakes and the Upper Coorong.   Our first tick of the weekend were adult and juvenile White-bellied Sea Eagles on Poltalloch Plains.  Waterfowl was quite abundant in the area but we were specifically looking for big waders.

As we headed down the Coorong a large lagoon just South of Parnaka Point had approximately 250 Red-necked Avocets and 3 Banded Stilts in breeding plumage.   The next lagoon on got us excited as we had finally found some waders.   About 2500 birds consisting of Red-necked Stints, Curlew Sandpipers, Sharpies and a solitary Greenshank.  We continued along the coast to Robe and there were still no big waders, however being a long weekend there were so many people.
We decided to head inland and camped in Mary Seymour CP overnight.   A short walk in the morning added White-throated Treecreeper, Southern Emu-Wren and 12 Blue-winged Parrots amongst a few other species.  

The rest of the morning and early afternoon was spent exploring Bool Lagoon.   The recent rains have filled Bool Lagoon and it was filled with waterfowl.  Highlights included Magpie Geese, breeding plumaged Cattle Egret, 9 Brolga and 3 Brown Quail.    Seeing a fox running through the main lagoon putting up the Masked Lapwings was a little disappointing.  
Blotched Blue-tongue - Bool Lagoon

Seeing a fox running through the main lagoon was very disappointing

The White-faced Herons seemed to like being up high

After spending a few hours at the Mt Gambier hospital getting Dave’s ear infection seen too, we headed for Caroline State Forest.   Three white-throated Needletails gave us good but fleeting views as they flew over quite high up.   An evening session spotlighting produced 2 Boobook Owls and numerous Brush and Ring-tailed Possums.

An early morning stop at Donovans Landing Lookout (before all the holiday makers were on the water) saw a lone Azure Kingfisher on the opposite of the Glenelg River.    The rest of the day was spent exploring different areas in the South East.   Picaninnie Ponds beach produced 17 adult and juvenile Kelp Gulls and at Pick Swamp we saw the resident Striated Fieldwrens.   No Bittern today though.   Danger Point had good numbers of small waders and a pair of breeding Little Terns but still none of the elusive big waders.   French point finally produced Pacific Golden Plover and 2 Gray-tailed Tattlers.
We visited Telford Scrub late in the day where we saw our first Eastern Yellow Robins for the year and an echidna of which I had not seen for a number of years.

Donovan's Landing on the Glenelg River
Blue-winged Parrot at Picaninnie Ponds

Picaninnie Beach 

Our campsite for the night was in Bangham CP.  Unfortunately, nothing was flowering here and a short walk in the morning did not yield anything but what you would expect to be here.      We made the call to head to Tolderol GR after hearing about a very special bird.   On arrival at Tolderol we met up with Colin Rogers and started a long hot wait in the blistering heat standing on our tailgate and watching.    For the first hour the most exciting thing we saw was a Tiger Snake crossing the track.   Then after 90 minutes great but brief views of a flying Black-backed Bittern.    This bird is suspected to have a nest and had been seen on numerous occasions over the last week,   Interestingly, after our sighting it was not seen again despite long hours staking out the site.   We left Colin to continue his monitoring of the birds activities and headed for Sugars beach where Common Terns had been seen the day before.     The area was covered in Crested, Whiskered, Little and Fairy Terns.    We ended up wading through the water to get closer to the roosting birds and finally managed to observe 2 Common Terns.

Common Tern at Murray Mouth

Crested Tern at Murray Mouth 

Fairy Tern at Murray Mouth 

We had a fantastic four days where we added 30+ birds to our lists.

No birding next weekend again as work commitments get in the way.

Chasing Waders

Well another weekend has come and gone and we spent it chasing birds for our Big Year. Started early Saturday morning to try and catch the 6:15am high tide at Thompsons beach north of Adelaide. Shorebirds were the main target for the day and we'd planned to spend the whole day travelling up the Gulf of St Vincent and down as far as Edithburgh on lower Yorke Peninsula looking for them. The lack of "large waders" like Far Eastern Curlews and Knots was a bit of a worry and we failed to connect with any of these birds at their traditional spots throughout the day. Did get good numbers of Turnstone and Grey Plover at Thompsons and Bald Hill Beach and the flooded saltpan at the top end of Thompsons Beach had good numbers of Curlew and Sharp-tailed Sandpipers. The other main target was Rock Parrots that spend the summer on the gulf coast before heading out to offshore islands to breed during the cooler months. Despite seeing two "Neophema type " Parrots at Bald Hill disappearing over the samphire we failed to get on to them.
Was nice to catch up with Teresa Thompson Jack at Port Clinton and again near Port Giles as she was scoping out sites for the Shorebird 2020 wader count that was going on over the weekend. We left her with it and headed back north and called in to the flooded wetland area on the eastern outskirts of Port Wakefield and managed to find 3 Blue-billed Ducks out on the open water, a very uncommon occurrence in the district.
We'd planned earlier to meet up with Chris Steeles to go spotlighting on his mate Mikes property on the northern Adelaide Plains after dark. Was nice to meet Lisa Girdham who also came along. Was a great night chatting and driving around the stubble paddocks looking for Quail and night birds. We exceeded expectations seeing several Southern Boobooks, Eastern Barn Owls, Owlet Nightjar and Tawny Frogmouth not to mention Stubble Quails and a single Little Button-quail and multiple Horsfields Bushlarks, a great night.
As we didin't get home till 2:00am it was a slower start to Sunday. We had planned to go to Tolderol Game Reserve again to target the Lewins Rails that had been seen on and off over the last couple of weeks as well as Common Tern. We were fortunate to bump in to Colin Rogers and Peter Koch who were also spending the day there. Saw the Lewins after staking out a spot on one of the tracks it likes to walk across but the Common Terns were a no show. A nice leisurely day pottering around and watching the Terns and Swamp Harriers floating about the place
Gotta work next weekend then we've got 4 days off for an Australia Day long weekend, so we're off to the South-east to see what we can find! #HarperBigYear #SABirding @SueTytoalba #166

Local weekend of birding!!

So after picking up a few incidentals during the week while at work we spent the weekend out in the field keen to pick up some more birds for our year list.
Saturday morning saw us up way before the sparrows in order to get down to Tolderol Game Reserve on the northern shores of Lake Alexandrina and meet our friend Chris Steeles for a day of birding.
Wasn't long before we started picking up a few nice birds such as Long-toed Stint and up to 8 White-winged Black Terns but the Lewins Rails reported earlier, while vocal, were no where to be seen. One, possibly two Bitterns were heard "booming" throughout the morning but decided not to reveal themselves.  There were hundreds of Dragonflies and one Red-bellied Black Snake also seen.

White-wing Black Tern - Tolderol GR
Blue Ring tail female

So after a good mornings birding the temperature took a rapid rise with the mercury heading to 40 degrees plus, so with that we headed towards Hindmarsh Island opposite the mouth of the Murray River where we passed dozens of Cape Barren Geese cooling their heels in some flooded saltpans A single Gull-billed Tern of the smaller Asian race affinis provided interest but the 3 Little Terns roosting on a sandbar alongside up to 50 Fairy Terns took some beating. This is a bird in serious decline in SA and to get it on our year list was a bonus as I haven't personally seen them in SA in over a decade. Heading back to the cars with our feet burning on the hot sand we parted company with Chris sending him on his way with 3 lifers under his belt.
Murray Mouth 

Cooling our feet at the Murray Mouth

Time to head home via Laratinga Wetlands near Mt Barker but not much to report from there as water levels are really high.
Australian Shoveler

Sunday saw us closer to Adelaide chasing up a report of Intermediate Egret from Whicker Rd Wetlands with Stephen Bosch. This a bird that can prove difficult to get in SA. Suffice it to say we dipped but did pick up some Glossy Ibis and bird #150 Baillons Crake.
Have to endure another week of work before we can go out again :(
#HarperBigYear #SABirding @SueTytoalba #150

It begins!!

January 1st saw us wake to a heavily overcast dull morning in Lake Gillies Conservation Park but soon warmed up with lots of bird activity with most of the cool Eyre Peninsula birds like Rufous Treecreepers, Western Yellow Robins and Blue-breasted Fairy-wrens all seen well, topped off with a family group of 5 Copperback Quail-thrush. We then headed over to Venus Bay late morning to pay homage to the little Yankee exhibitionist Laughing Gull, affectionately known by the locals as "Chuckles". He needs a top hat and cane that guy, what a star! . So we finished day one on a small list of 62 but gotta be happy with the quality! 

Day 1 of our Big Year and we are ready!!

Lake Gilles Conservation Park

Venus Bay's celebrity Laughing Gull


After a night camping in HIncks Conservation Park we again woke to overcast conditions and the bird life was almost non-existant.    We began driving north picking up new species as we travelled.  ne of our favourite birding areas in South Australia are the Middleback Ranges.   The Whyalla-Kimba Road always manages to turn up not only great birds but amazing reptiles.  

Male Crested Dragon

Moloch Horridus or Thorny Devil

Thorny Devils live exclusively on small black ants, eating up to 5000 per meal
After a relaxing with our good friends Stephen and Elyse we headed back to Adelaide, stopping to look for waders in Clinton Conservation Park.   The tide was against us and there was little to see.

Wader watching.
We finished our first trip with 113 species.  But it's back to work now until Saturday and a day at Tolderol.