Monday, July 25, 2016

Vagrant American Gull found laughing in the middle of Australia!

Venus Bay is a small tourist and fishing town on the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia. Its nearly 700km from Adelaide and is generally a sleepy spot that makes great fish and chips. So, you can imagine their excitement when they discovered that a small little dark Gull had appeared in their local flock of Silver Gulls! The locals asked one of their visiting bird watchers for advise and the call soon was made that this little moulting featherball was actually a second year Laughing Gull in moult!

Laughing Gulls come from America and there has never been one recorded in South Australia before! We believe this poor little thing was caught up in a storm cell and got blown well off course and some how ended up on the other side of the world!

Meanwhile, back in Adelaide I was quietly minding my own business when I received an SMS from my friends David and Sue. 24 hours later and we were all squished into their BEAST heading for the Eyre Peninsula.  "Is this crazy?" we asked each other. "To drive 1400km for less than 3 hrs with a bird"? Nope  - we somehow managed to convice ourselves that this was completely  reasonable and normal behaviour.

So, after arriving in the dark we managed to get some  pre-twitching, anxiety-filled sleep, although I was awake before sunrise, dressed and ready to search at first light.

Thankfully this was a very accomodating little bird and I had found him within one minute. Most of the morning he sat happily right next to our car seemingly enjoying our excitement and company as we took hundreds of photos then settled down to just observe him as we enjoyed cups of tea.



Selfies were taken and there was a constant roar of cameras that seemed to meld naturally with the ocean waves.

Look how small the Laughing Gull is next to the Silver Gulls!

Laughing Gull behind my shoulder on the right!



Laughing Gull TICK 719 for my Australian Life list.

Our friends Colin, Stuart, John and Heather joined us and we also met up with another birder Paul.  So it was quite a social event.

We found these caps for sale in the caravan park shop and thought they were quite appropriate!

The drive home seemed to take less time as we relived every detail of our short encounter. It was a very short but very enjoyable trip!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Birding in the Adelaide Hills South Australia

This weekend was cold! Very cold, so cold in fact that most normal people would snuggle up on the couch in front of the heater to watch their favourite TV show.

But, I'm not normal.

I spent a freezing morning in Belair National Park. This park is 13 km south east of Adelaide on Upper Sturt Rd, Belair. It has great facilities for families with BBQ's, toilets, picnic areas, but more importantly, many great walking tracks! So, I warmed myself up by hiking for 5 hours carrying my camera.


There are many fungi around at the moment too, after all the recent rain! Yes, it does rain here sometimes, even though SA is the driest state in the driest continent on earth.










I actually lived in Belair National Park for approximately ten years, so I know it pretty well. So I can assure you that there are some great tracks to explore away from the main tourist areas where you can escape the crowds and you may even be able to hike for a couple of hours without seeing another person. Clearly these are my favourite areas!

Heading to Melville Gully

There are stunning areas of Messmate Stringybark (Eucalyptus obliqua & Eucalyptus baxteri) with dense heath understorey which is great habitat for the endangered Southern Brown Bandicoot and gorgeous Yellow-footed Antechinus (a gorgeous dasyurid marsupial). It is interesting to note that only 200 years ago there were 8 species of Bandicoot in SA. Now there is only one, and it is endangered. All due to land clearing and the introduction of feral cats and foxes.

I was rewarded by seeing some great birds and about 15 Koala's  (which are Marsupials, not bears) - but we do like to call them Drop Bears from time to time... 

Golden Whistler

Grey Fantail

Musk Lorikeet

Red-browed Finch
After my hike in Belair I also spent an hour in a tiny little block of native vegetation in Blackwood and managed a couple of photos of a Rose Robin, which is very rare in South Australia.  so I was happy to see this little featherball. Only the second one I've ever seen in SA!

Rose Robin - a rare visitor to SA

Spotted Pardalote - female


White-throated Treecreeper

Koala have sharp claws for climbing

Koala are a marsupial - not a bear!

Adelaide Rosella  (Crimson Rosella)

Friday, May 27, 2016

BITTERNS & Suburban Wetland Birding in Adelaide SA

Wetland birding is always a good option when you don't have time to travel further afield. There is always something to bring you back in touch with nature. 

With various duck species ever present and the always reliable Purple Swamphens and Eurasian Coots, Australasian Grebes and Little Pied Cormorants, you can explore and find something willing to pose for a photo.

A species a bit more challenging is always fun though, whether it be an Australian Reed Warbler, Buff-banded Rail, Spotted Crake or, in this particular case, the elusive and very rare Australasian Bittern.

The call went out about a week ago at a wetland just south of Adelaide that an Australasian Bittern had been seen. I waited a few days before venturing out  to take a look. Ive seen them a few times in the past, at Greenfields Wetland, north of Adelaide as well further away at Bool Lagoon in SE SA and even further east at Picks Swamp near Mt Gambier. However, my current photos were poor and always in flight. So, the chance to try for a perched photo was tempting. 

I tried one morning without luck but on my second attempt was successful immediately! I was happy to see that it was sitting on the outer edge of the reeds! Although a fair distance away, it was visable which is quite unusual for this reclusive species. 

Here are a few photos taken on the day.

Australasian Bittern

Australasian Bittern
Little Pied Cormorant

Australian Reed Warbler


Eurasian Coot


Little Pied Cormorant

What are you looking at?

Australasian Bittern
What do you mean I'm not as exciting as a Bittern??