Monday, May 28, 2018

Bird list for SA trip

Cape Barren Goose
Freckled Duck (Big Swamp, Port Lincoln)
Black Swan
Australian Shelduck
Australian Wood Duck
Australasian Shoveler (Big Swamp, Port Lincoln)
Pacific Black Duck
Grey Teal
Chestnut Teal
Pink-eared Duck
Australasian Grebe
Hoary-headed Grebe
Australasian Gannet (Whalers Way)
Little Pied Cormorant
Great Cormorant
Little Black Cormorant
Pied Cormorant
Black-faced Cormorant
Australasian Darter
Australian Pelican
Great Egret (Glenelg and Thompson's Beach)
White-faced Heron
Little Egret (Thompsons Beach)
Australian White Ibis
Straw-necked Ibis (McLaren Vale)
Royal Spoonbill (St Kilda)
Yellow-billed Spoonbill (Port Noarlunga)
Brown Goshawk
Black Kite
Black-shouldered Kite (Australian)
Swamp Harrier (St Kilda)
Wedge-tailed Eagle
Whistling Kite
White-bellied Sea-Eagle
Australian Spotted Crake (6, St Kilda)
Australasian Swamphen
Dusky Moorhen
Black-tailed Nativehen
Eurasian Coot
Pied Stilt
Banded Stilt (100s St Kilda)
Red-necked Avocet
Australian Pied Oystercatcher
Sooty Oystercatcher
Masked Lapwing
Red-capped Plover
Red-kneed Dotterel
Curlew Sandpiper (St Kilda)
Red-necked Stint
Silver Gull
Pacific Gull
Fairy Tern (Little Douglas)
Caspian Tern
Crested Tern
Rock Dove
Spotted Dove
Brush Bronzewing
Crested Pigeon
Sacred Kingfisher (Coffin Bay)
Southern Boobook (Torrens Linear Park)
Nankeen Kestrel
Brown Falcon
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
Long-billed Corella  (Torrens Linear Park)
Rock Parrot (Dutton Bay)
Australian Ringneck
Red-rumped Parrot
Crimson Rosella (Adelaide  Rosella)
Eastern Rosella
Musk Lorikeet  (Torrens Linear Park)
Rainbow Lorikeet
Superb Fairywren
White-winged Fairywren (Whyalla Wetland)
fairywren sp.
Noisy Miner
Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater (Salt lakes North of Coles Point)
Red Wattlebird
Singing Honeyeater
White-plumed Honeyeater
New Holland Honeyeater
Shy Heathwren (Dutton Bay)
Brown Thornbill
Inland Thornbill (Dutton Bay
Dusky Woodswallow
Grey Butcherbird
Australian Magpie
Grey Currawong
Black-faced Cuckooshrike
Grey Shrikethrush
Willie Wagtail
Grey Fantail
Australian Raven
Little Raven
White-winged Chough
Eurasian Skylark
Welcome Swallow
Common Blackbird
Common Starling
House Sparrow

An alert reader will notice that there is no mention of Common Myna in the list.  I have raised this on the birding-aus email group and have been advised, by various members of the group, of the following:

  • "The South Australian authorities  are trying very hard to keep them out. Unfortunately the Victorian authorities are not particularly interested in dealing with birds that turn up in western Victoria."
  • "I collected specimens for the museum in the mid 1950s and when I left in 1958 they were a number of sightings so the might have died out."
  • "There was one in Adelaide airport a few years ago - I think it was eliminated."

Sunday, May 27, 2018

All things must end

So this post finishes off our trip to South Australia.  It covers our last day based at Glenelg and the drive back to Carwoola.

Friday 25 May 2018

We began the day as always with a dog walk.  As this was to be our last morning walk and we had nothing else planned for the day, we made the walk a little longer than we have been doing.

We also changed arrangements by crossing to the EastSide of the Patawolonga and looking back at the reflections of the houses on the far side.
 We then headed a bit North before crossing Military Rd and heading to the beach.  On the site of what used to be Marineland.  The Surf Lifesaving organisation for SA have their HQ here.  The sculpture looked quite pleasant ...
.. but got to "interesting" when looked at closely.

  • Why is the figure second from the left wearing a skirt?  Is this a mother rushing to pull her toddler out of an unfenced pool?  Could the designer not think of any other way to show the figure is female?
  • Is the atrophied right leg on the fourth figure representing people with a disability?
  • Do they now only rescue people by running?  (To make the point another way, why don't they have figures swimming, paddling or in a Zodiac, which are IMHO the main business of lifesaving?

They are still of course attractive images, and perhaps the last point is taken care of by the images on the building?
 On the top of the dune the 4 experimental wind turbines are still present.  They were all motionless today as the wind was dead calm.
In case you wonder about the strange blue colour in many of the photos from today, there is no need to panic.  It is a natural phenomenon called "the sky".  It was very enjoyable to not have solid grey cloud!

There were large mounds of seaweed on the beach!
When I first migrated to Adelaide we used to go to this stretch of beach as it was not heavily used.  I had thought it was due to it being under the flight path for planes landing and taking off from the airport, about 1km away.  Others thought it was because the punters had to walk ~100m through sandhills to get there, rather than parking on a road and walking 10m down steps.
A few bits of interesting public art have been installed along the esplanade.
 Surfs up - only about 20cm, but it was up.
 Some more reflections in the Pat.

 As we toddled back through the 'burb we noticed that the baby hire SUV had gone - possibly making a delivery somewhere.  In the same street the tradies were back, possibly even more than yesterday.
Being a nosey sod I asked what they were up to.  It turns out they were installing a node for NBN Co..  No wonder the project is so expensive if it takes a mob like this 2 days and a minimum of 6 blokes to install each node!

Here is the total walk.
We then then put in some energy to packing a fair bit of our stuff ready for departure tomorrow and went for a stroll along the Torrens Linear Park.  We used the opportunity to fill up with dieselat what we expected to be better prices than Ouyen or Wagga.  I then discovered an establishment called Dulwich Bakery (apparently a chain in Adelaide).  They did a Chunky Steak Pepper pie which was very good indeed: I rated it as a 9+ - the pepper taste could have been stronger and the crust possibly a bit moister, but it was pushing the envelope of 10!

The start was amusing seeing these horses wading the Creek: the leader stood in the water for some time stirring with one hoof and we couldn't work out why it did this!
 One of my objectives on this outing was to photograph a Musk Lorikeet.  They were most uncooperative but eventually I managed to capture this snap.  It has taken a while to work out the pose of the bird because the red stripes are in a strange position.  I think it has actually got its head twisted so it's almost hanging vertically.
After this walk Frances needed some retail therapy so was dropped off at  Harbour Town and Tammy and I went to check cormorant diversity on the breakwater at Glenelg.  All three black and white species (Little Pied, Pied and Black-faced) were present but neither Little Black nor Great.
Returning to the house it was time to load most of the car so that we could get an early start.  This done under the supervision of the standard poodles across the road!
Here is a photo of the house.
After all of this I was pretty knackered  so was early to bed.  I couldn't seem to get the temperature right, and was able to worry about villains breaking into the car and stealing our kit.  So a very poor night's sleep.

Saturday 26 May 2018

We were both awake at 0430 so got up, loaded the rest of our stuff into the car, took Tammy for a toilet patrol and were on our way by about 0525.

The road works at South Road weren't as chaotic as yesterday (no cops, for a start) but still almost incomprehensible.  At least we got through in the direction we wanted and headed for the Hills.  Eventually got on to the Expressway and as we approached the Eastern side of the Hills could see a reddish tinge in the sky.  This got gradually more and more impressive (clouds do have some benefits) and Frances got this snap somewhere between Murray Bridge and Tailem Bend.
 As a result of the camera being set on auto-flash and the windows being a tad grubby, other photos were not that good.

I drove to Ouyen, our traditional first stop 400km into the drive and then Frances took over.  I dozed for a bit and then took a few photos.  The aim of this one is to show the mallee growth form of the eucalypts, with several stems branching out of the ligotuber.
 The road is called the Mallee Highway and here is a photo of a traffic jam on same.
 I also took a photo of the display of fuel consumption on the car.  It only shows 4 hours so the very low start point is where we were mucking about going on the very hilly and winding road to the start of the freeway.  It is then quite stable.
 As we got close to the Murray at Piangil a salt pan was visible: almost dry.
 Despite this someone has planted a massive pistachio orchard around Piangil.  It seemed to run for at least 10km and went well over the (sand)hills and far away.  My guess is at least several hundred hectares.  As the info page says " The water from the Murray River provides the source of irrigation." Together with the vast expansion of the cotton paddocks on the Hay Plain no wonder that the irrigators are objecting to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

On the opposite side of the river the paddocks looked hard to distinguish from the salt pan.
We stopped for a driver swap about halfway from Balranald to Hay where I took an image of the Bluebush between cotton paddocks.  In case you wonder what a flat line looks like, check the horizon.
We had developed some theories about the emus changing their behaviour as a result of the cotton farms .  We came across several groups of 1 or 2 in the first few kilometres from Balranald and then started to come into the cotton, near Maude.  There we spotted a big flock: Frances estimated at least 20, perhaps 30.

Frances took over again just after Narrandera and I took a snap of theinfo display which is now really showing what steady fuel consumption looks like. I think the little uptick (low consumption) at the start is going through Piangil and Tooleybuc at 80km/h and the downtick is probably accelerating away from the driver swap!
 The two fill-ups at Ouyen and Wagga gave 9.15 and 9.33l/100km respectively.

Because we were both a little tired by this stage I decided to change our normal route on rural roads from Murrimbateman, rather twisty and wildlife ridden, and came into Canberra.  The road works around the light rail project were appalling, but fade into insignificance compared to South Road in Adelaide.

We recorded some temperatures as we drove along: it was quite impressive to see how much colder the inland was.  We'd heard a forecast maximum of 23oC for Hay but thought ir ridiculous when we were at Pinaroo.  However it was a nice sunny day and the forecast was right on the money.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Adelaide emulates Dar es Salaam

Heading out on our dog walk on 24 May, I heard a loud clapping noise coming from the powerlines above our accommodation.  It was a pair of Crested Pigeons which on first sighting were doing the usual chest-puffing tail-raising display behaviour.  Then they moved closer together and appeared to strike each other with their wings.  
 This happened several times.  I've never seen them hit one one another before and wonder if they were making love or war?

Moving on down the road a sight resembled the start of a joke "How many tradies does it take to ...?"
From the conversation we could hear it seemed they were working out how to tap into the power line for some purpose.

We had a pleasant walk around the suburb without any great excitements to report.   After finishing our breakfasts we headed off towards McLaren Vale.  I carefully (I thought) consulted Google Maps as to the route and we headed off towards South Rd where absolute chaos was occurring.

There were massive roadworks in situ (but of course no work happening.  We spent  about 5 minutes stationary wondering what all the Plodmobiles were doing- at least 4 were visible: a number usually only seen outside a McDonalds with a special on jumboburgers.
 Eventually one of the plods wandered over and stopped cars in our lane from turning right on to South Rd (first red arrow in image).  So we headed a bit up towards Flinders U and did a u-turn, blue arrow, intending to turn left onto South Rd (second red arrow).  Also blocked by the fxxxh.  So after a minimum delay of 20 minutes,  back to Marion Rd and on to the expressway.  (I have since checked Google more closely and that is where we should have gone all along: dooohhhh!)
However we have no idea what the problem was.  There seemed to be more plodmobiles a little further down South Rd so possibly a prang down there.Why were the stupid cops (sorry about the tautology) allowing through traffic on South Rd but blocking turns from Sturt Rd?  Given the amount of delay and the number of cops involved why is there no coverage of this in any media.  Welcome to South Australia!

Basically the whole thing reminded me of the traffic jams in Dar es Salaam approaching the Selander Bridge (although the cops there were better organised and more helpful).

We eventually made it to McLaren- in time for lunch which was a pepper pie and a Kitchener bun.  The pie was pretty good, rating 8 on the official scale.  They lost a point because it was all mince - no steak in sight - and the crust was a tad over-cooked so got a zero for that category.  We had a look round the houses of the Vale but what we could see where all modernish basic dwellings so cut our losses and headed for Johnson Rd and the Pirramimma winery.
This is a long established family winery in the area and we have found it to sell pretty good wines at reasonable prices with no bullshit.  They seemed to to want $5 a head for tasting (offset against purchases) to dissuade people just coming out for free booze.  We weren't asked for coin, and did buy 2.5 dozen bottles so it wouldn't have been an issue anyway.

The vines looked attractive.
 On our way towards the beach we came across some Ibis posing nicely.
Its unusual to get both common species so nicely aligned.

 Then on to the Maslins Beach area.  Here is the walk we did.
This was taken at the Northern turning point and looks down on the beach where naked persons can be observed in warmer weather.  There is a reason we only go there when its cold!  The focus is the interesting geology of the cliffs.
 As we descended to the beach on the Southern side of the headland a couple of dolphins were visible.  Or at least their fins were visible.
 Some more cliffs.

 The lowest level on the cliffs was saturated with small shells.  If this level survives erosion for a few million years so archaeologists are going to get very excited.

 After another visit for sister-nattering we headed home down Brighton Rd.  continuous traffic pouring up the hill towards Christies Beach.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

When too many waterbirds are never enough!

I finished yesterday's post with a comment about workers painting the kerbs late last night.  The cold hard light of day revealed that they weren't painting the kerbs, but the directional arrows in the middle of the road.
 We set off to do our dog walk aiming to visit the Old Gum Tree.   En route we noticed this rather charming old-style house.
The fenced park in which the Old Gum Tree is located is the venue for a bunch of people to let their dogs off the lead.  Several of them came over to check out the new chum (who was kept on the lead as she could escape from the park if given an incentive).  This person is Mitch.
 Here is the tree: now referred to as the Old Concrete Tree as it has been cased in concrete for many years (it died in 1906)!
 This is its significance,
 As we proceeded on I noticed this car.  Don't bother going the through the traditional process to make one, rent it instead!
 Unless of course you find the traditional process entertaining!

We found a few interesting birds and a bunch more amusing dogs on the walk, with the route depicted here.
Our main outing today was to St Kilda, part of the Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary National Park.  Despite the "National Park" designation dogs on leads are allowed.  Brilliant: may this thinking extend to less enlightened jurisdictions - NSW and Victoria I'm looking at you!  It is nothing to do with the suburb in Melbourne nor the football team.  No caps were found today.

The route basically retraced the last hour of our drive into Adelaide so Frances got a few pix of the works on the Expressway.

 Once at St Kilda we were initially disappointed at the bird life in the salt lagoons.  There were many gulls including this lot on some encrusted foam but not much else.
 Then we got to look at the sea water,  To say there were heaps of birds would be a large  understatement.  We estimated 1000 Black Swans, 500 each of Pacific Black Ducks and Grey Teal.

 This flock of Royal Spoonbills contained 67 birds.
 I estimated that overall there were 200 Pied Stilt and 60 Banded Stilts.
 Here are some Banded Stilts ..
 .. with, in the bottom of the image, a Curlew Sandpiper.
 Our total bird list for this site is here.

We wandered of to the North end of the village and enjoyed seeing a few Red-kneed Dotterel and (Bird of the Day perhaps?) 6 Australian Spotted Crakes.  Although the crakes kept going back into the scrub I was confident I saw two groups of 3 birds of this species.    We couldn't go as far into the scrub as I would have liked as it ran into the private salt fields.

Next stop was the Mangrove walk which ended - after about 600m of boardwalk - ata lookout over the Inlet.  Here are some Royal Spoonbills, with some mangrove leaves in the foreground.
 A couple of snaps of aspects of the mangroves.

 When Frances was getting the pass for the mangroves she picked up a leaflet for the whole Sanctuary area, put out by Birdlife SA.  They reckoned the best area was Thompson Beach , about 50km North of St Kilda.  We decided to invest the time and diesel and pointed the Pajero in that direction.  The map was pretty crappy as the road they showed coming off the highway did not in fact reach the highway.  Fortunately the Sanctuary was shown on notices on the highway and we found our way.

We started by following one of their trails though the bush with fruiting Sea Box (Alyxia buxifolia) ...
 .. and Quandong (Santalum acuminatum)
 Then we got to see the sea and the shorebirds,  Unfortunately the tide was out, but my telescope removed most of the problem.
 Many (~400) more Banded Stilts and ~30 Great Egrets.
 Next time we're in Adelaide we must come back nearer to high tide.
A steady drive back to the house - about an hour and a quarter, not bad for such a great site.

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