Sunday 19th March
This morning the sun arose to a beautiful day. Bright sunshine, clear blue sky, gentle cooling breeze and the nearby sea of Encounter Bay, Victor Harbor a brilliant deep blue punctuated by stunning white waves breaking on rocks out in the bay. Perfect. After lunch we sat in front of the caravan and just watched the sea. How relaxing.
More Bird Sightings
Around the caravan park I observed about 30 different species without really trying. There were quite a few Little Ravens around, mostly flying overhead. Spotted Turtledoves and Feral Pigeons are also resident birds, as are Striated Pardalotes. I only saw a few Crested Pigeons nearby.
Galahs were in evidence throughout the park and nearby gardens. In the tree in front of our caravan we watched two juvenile Galahs begging for food from their harried parents. They seemed old enough to fend for themselves; it must be easier to sponge off parents. In previous visits I have seen hundreds of Little Corellas; this year I only saw about three individuals. Adelaide Rosellas are also common in the area but I only heard two flying past the van. I have seen Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoos in this area in the past but not this time.
Birds of Prey
The only bird of prey I observed was a Black Shouldered Kite. I saw one several times over the weekend, presumably the same individual. The first time I saw it traversing the banks of the Inman River, occassionally swooping down to catch its prey in the grass of the bank. Later I saw it hovering over the sedge grass on the sand banks along the beach front.
While standing on the beach taking photos of the yachts at anchor and of Granite Island we were suddenly aware of several dolphins in the bay between us and the island, some two hundred metres from the beach. They were too far to positively identify or photograph them but they were probably common Bottle-Nosed Dolphins
Saturday 18th March:
We are staying in the caravan park next to Encounter Bay, Victor Harbor. This is just over an hour’s drive south of Adelaide, South Australia. During the night our sleep was disturbed by frequent showers. Rain on the roof of a caravan can be quite disturbing. By breakfast time the rain was quite steady.
A Walk becomes a Sit
My friend Keith and I had intended going for a walk this morning, probably around Granite Island. There is a causeway to the island and from the caravan park it takes several hours. The views are quite spectacular on the seaward side. The large waves crashing over the granite rocks would have made for some great photography. The rain did not ease until late in the morning. Instead of a walk, Keith and I sat in the van talking, having cuppas, eating chocolate cake and hot cross buns and reading the paper.
After lunch Keith and I were so exhausted from the morning’s frenetic activities that we both had to have a nap. Life’s so hard. Later we sat around talking with some of the others we knew who were staying in the same caravan park.
A Bird Walk
Late in the afternoon I went for a birdwatching walk to the beach and along the nearby river. I took my camera with me and was able to take some good shots of several species of birds and also some good shots of several yachts at anchor in the bay. Just a few metres from our van there was a small lagoon, perhaps the size of several tennis courts. This lagoon was well populated with birds feeding in, on or above it.
The most prominent species was Chestnut Teal. There were some 30-40 of them. This was a species I hadn’t managed to get photos of as yet. One photo shows three of these ducks all diving for food simultaneously; all you can see is their tails sticking up in the air. They were accompanied by about 30 Silver Gulls swimming around on the surface of the water. Hawking for insects above the water were numerous Welcome Swallows. Several Magpie Larks and a solitary White Faced Heron patrolled the water’s edge for whatever they could find to eat.
Also on the water’s edge was a single bird I couldn’t positively identify. I wouldn’t let me get close enough for a photo or a good look through my binoculars. By its shape, colour, size and habits it could possibly have been a Sharp Tailed Sandpiper.
The Inman River forms the south west boundary of the caravan park and often provides some good bird watching. Several Masked Lapwings, a few more Silver Gulls and two Wood Ducks were seen immediately. Waiting quietly near some bushes on the bank revealed some Pacific Black Ducks, Silvereyes in the bushes and I heard some Superb Blue Wrens in the nearby bushes. A Caspian Tern patrolled up and down the river while a Willie Wagtail flitted around on the lawn nearby.
Friday 17th March
This afternoon we hitched up the old caravan and journeyed down to Victor Harbor on the coast south of Adelaide, South Australia. This trip has become an annual trip for us. We had sites near six other couples who stayed in the same caravan park. During the weekend our wives attend the CWCI Convention. All the men sit around in the shade of the trees in the park and attempt to solve the world’s problems – usually unsuccessfully.
Birds of the Caravan Park
We arrived at about 4:30pm and after checking in we set up the caravan. From our site we had an excellent view of Encounter Bay and Granite Island just off the coast. The beach is about a hundred metres from our van, with no buildings or other things obstructing our view. Throughout the park there are numerous birds, many of them very tame.
The most obvious resident of the park is the Australian Magpie. I didn’t do a count of actual numbers but they are present throughout the park. They are very tame and will come to within a metre or so if one is sitting outside the van. This provides many photo opportunities and I was able to get several good shots. They keep a careful watch if one is eating outside, expecting a free handout. When there is nothing on offer they skulk around looking for any unwary creatures lurking in the grass. The spear like thrust of the beak often rewards them with a tasty morsel.
Another common park resident is the Rainbow Lorikeet. The park has many eucalyptus trees, some of which were heavy in flower. This accounts for the many lorikeets and the constant screeching calls. They will feed for a while before wheeling off through the park in twos and threes, screeching as the go to another tree.
Other Bird Species
Because there were many flowering trees in the caravan park there were also quite a few honeyeaters scattered everywhere. New Holland Honeyeaters, Red Wattlebirds, Little Wattlebirds and Noisy Miners were the common honeyeaters I observed. There were also some White Plumed Honeyeaters but they were not calling as much as they are sometimes inclined to do.
For more information about Victor Harbor click here.
Today we spent a very relaxing day at a Church picnic. It was originally scheduled for Australia Day in January, but that was cancelled due to very hot weather. Last night the steady rain threatened to spoil our picnic yet again. This morning the sky was clear with not a cloud to be seen with a gentle breeze. Some clouds did appear around lunch time, but generally it was a great day.
Fishing and Canoeing
A good number of people attended the gathering on the lawns at Swanport Reserve. This reserve, a few kilometres south of Murray Bridge, is on the banks of the Murray River. The extensive lawned area has a scattering of large, shady trees throughout. A sandy beach lines the eastern edge of the reserve, perfect for casting a line or two. Optimistic anglers grace this small strip of beach from time to time. Friend Keith took the trouble to bring his canoe; various ones took turns canoeing the stretch of river near the reserve. I must take our canoe down there sometime as it’s been years since we’ve enjoyed the pleasures of sliding quietly through the water.
I usually am keen to visit this reserve as the birding can be very good with an interesting range of birds to be seen. The birding was rather slow today so my list was shorter than usual. A flock of some 60 to 100 Galahs kept a constant chorus of squawking, disturbing the peacefulness of the picnic. Their wheeling from tree to tree painted pink swirls against a bright blue sky in contrast with Jeff’s rainbow coloured kite fluttering in the breeze.
Today I attended the Thursday sessions of Writers’ Week in Adelaide. This is a regular feature of the Adelaide Festival of Arts which is held every two years. Prominent writers from all over Australia and selected writers from overseas are invited to be guest speakers. Previously I have been unable to attend because of work commitments.
Writers’ week is held in a beautiful section of Adelaide’s parklands, about 200 metres across the road from the Festival Centre and about five minutes walk from the CBD. While I primarily attended to hear the speakers talking about thier writing and books, birders like me are naturally always on the lookout for birds flying around. As the tents where the sessions are held are open sided, the birds are easy to observe.
The most conspicious species was the Rock Dove. Groups of three to five flew overhead or around the nearby buildings every minute or so. The next common species was the Rainbow Lorikeet. Small flocks of up to six or eight went screeching from tree to tree at least every five minutes. Noisy Miners squabbled and carried on in nearby trees all day. I was surprised none came down to the lawn to search for dropped food. Perhaps the large crowd was too intimidating even for them. I also observed two Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos over the Torren River, several Adelaide Rosellas flying nearby and a single Magpie Lark. Surprisingly, I also saw only one Crested Pigeon all day. They are a very common species in the parklands.
The most unexpected sighting was a Brush-Tailed Possum. It came scampering across the grass from the back of the Governor’s residence, through the chairs of about a dozen attendees, and disappeared up one of the beautiful palm trees in that part of the garden. These mammals are essentially nocturnal, so that makes the sighting even more interesting.