Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Morgan Conservation Park

It's been 15yrs since I last headed up to Morgan, so I decided it was time to revisit this neat little riverland town! The main draw card for me on this trip was a memory now nearly twenty years old. I can still vividly recall a flock of around ten Regent Parrots flying fast and low overhead when I was up this way water skiing, at the time I was only about twelve years old!
Memories fade, but when I rolled into Morgan on a lovely sunny Saturday afternoon, it all came flooding back and it was as if I had only been here not long ago! It's always nice to return to a place where you haven't been to for a long time and find it pretty much as it was and not over-run with housing developments and big supermarkets everywhere, which can so often ruin our coastal towns these days! Once quaint little seaside towns, now big everything and 4wd vehicles that will never see a dirt road!
Striated Pardalotes
First stop was the playground as I had a couple of ankle biters with me. While there the first birds to make an appearance were a pair of Rainbow Lorikeets closely followed by stacks of Noisy Miners! Also seen in this area were a pair of Striated Pardalotes on the side of a cliff, a nesting hole had been dug out not far beneath them so I imagine they are breeding there. Three Red-rump Parrots were feeding on the lawns, Sulfur-crest Cockatoos and Little Corella's wheeled overhead, while down on the river there were some Pacific Black Ducks, Wood Ducks and a lone Darter on the other side.
Red-rump Parrot (Male)

Red-rump Parrot (Female)
Next we drove onto the Ferry and headed across to the Conservation Park. With a diverse range of habitat the chance of an unusual bird showing up is probably quite good, for me this turned up in the form of an Australasian Bittern calling it's distinctive call from a big reed bed on the edge of the lagoon. Despite scanning the area for twenty minutes it failed to show! Not unusual for this cryptic species!
The reed bed from which the Bittern was calling.
After scanning the lagoon seeing many of the usual waterfowl, we headed to the eastern side of the lagoon parked the car and took of on foot in pursuit of whatever would show up! Heading into the small sandy rises just away from the Lagoon we came across our first Regent Parrots which flew off into the distance almost instantly! d'oh!! luckily it didn't take long to locate many more!!

A pair of Regent Parrots

Part of a flock of 10 feeding Regents

Female Regent preening

Male Regent
Other highlights included : a pair of Crested-shrike tits, an Intermediate Egret, many Great Egrets, a Pied Butcherbird, lots of Yellow Rosella's, Tree Martins, Musk Duck, White-browed Babblers and many more common species! All up a good days birding! Definitely planning a return trip!

Yellow Rosella

Distant shot of a Pied Butcherbird

Great Egret

Welcome Swallow perched on the Ferry rail

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Brookfield Conservation Park

Hooded Robin (juvenile)
One of the advantages of living north of Adelaide is it is quite easy to get to some great Mallee Conservation parks without two much trouble. The closest and easiest to get to is Brookfield, 10kms short of Blanchetown on the Murray River and 40 minutes from my doorstep.
On this particular morning time was of the essence as I only had around four hours to play with. Deciding to tackle the park differently to what I normally do, I planned to do two hour long walks instead of what I usually do which is to drive around one of the two loop drives and then stopping every so often to do small loop walks out into the Mallee.
I have found one of the most produtive area's of this park is only a little way inside the entrance. About 500m along the track there is a small fenced area which is surrounded by fairly open Mallee with low Acacia shrubs inbetween. This is a great area generally to find Hooded Robin, so with that in mind this was the first area I chose to do an hour of walking. First bird to show was a Brown Falcon and then it's mate, I tried to get a few photos of them but couldn't manage to close the gap, meaning average photos were all I could manage. After leaving the Falcons to do whatever Falcons do, I took off in search of a Hooded Robin or two. A little way off I could hear Brown Treecreepers calling so headed in that direction, being fairly vocal it didn't take long to find them and also as a bonus there was a family of Hooded Robins right there with them!
Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater
Also found on this first walk were: Spiny-cheeked Honeyater, Yellow-throated Miner, Australian Owlet Nightjar, Mistletoebird, Southern Whiteface, Australian Magpie, Whistling Kite, Singing Honeyater, Yellow-plumed Honeyeater, Willie Wagtail, Chestnut-crowned Babbler, Galah and Australian (Mallee) Ringneck.

Australian (Mallee) Ringneck

When birding area's you have been to before it's always easy to fall into our comfort zone and head to spots where we have seen good birds before, often to the detriment of other area's which may be just as good. I have been a culprit of this many times at Brookfield, so this time decided not to do my normal spots and instead do my second hour long walk in the first thick part of Mallee scrub I came across. This took me just past the homestead about one kilometre up the loop track. Parking the car, instantly I came across some great birds in the area between my car and the edge of the thicker Mallee, these included Mulga Parrots, Australasian Pipits, Chestnut-crowned Babblers, Singing Honeyeaters etc. Right on the edge of the Mallee a pair of Southern Scrub-robin were bouncing about in there own perculiar way! while trying to get a decent photo of these they led me right to a pair of Gilberts Whistlers sitting in a Mallee together. Now trying to get a photo of the Gilberts instead, the Scrub-robins bounced off deeper into the Mallee? The female Gilbert proved quite confiding allowing a few photos, where-as the male was having none of it! sitting at the back of every Acacia bush he could find never letting me a clear shot!

Gilberts Whistler (female)

Splendid Fairy-Wren ( Male with leg bands)
Further along many other great birds showed as I walked includuing at one spot where without moving I could watch a family of Splendid Fairy-Wrens and a family of Varigated Fairy-Wrens interacting, a Grey Fantail showing it's displeasure of me being in it's patch! three different species of Thornbill (Yellow, Chestnut-rumped & Inland), a few Weebills and a bright male Red-capped Robin all in an area no bigger than a standard family home!!
All up a nice way to spend a few hours out in the Mallee!!!Chris                                                                                                                                                              
Grey Fantail getting it's game face on!!

Brown Treecreeper