On the first day of our 2008 Road Trip to Sydney we stopped for the night at a caravan park in Hay, a large rural town in mid western New South Wales. As soon as we had arrived we booked into the cabin shown in the photo above. Because it was a few days before Christmas we made the precaution of booking ahead.
The day had been very hot and we were pleased that the car air conditioning made travelling very pleasant. The cabin, however, had heated up during the day and was very hot. The tiny air conditioner really struggled to bring the temperature down. Still, we were very pleased with the facilities and size of the cabin.
After dinner we went for a stroll along the banks of the nearby Murrumbidgee River. I made the mistake of not taking my camera nor my binoculars. The birding was very good and I added several new species to my trip list. You can read about the birds I saw here.
On the second afternoon during our stay at the Royal Chitwan National Park we were driven a short distance over a very rough track in a rather dilapidated old 4WD vehicle to an upstream section of the Rapti River. A canoe, together with a canoeist, was waiting for our small group to take a half hour trip down river.
The man operated the canoe with a long pole along the same principle of a gondolier. The river in this section was flowing quite rapidly and so he only had to guide it along. This section of my overseas trip was the best birding of the whole trip and it only lasted half an hour. I managed to add no less than 19 new species to my life list. (A ‘life list’ is a list of all the birds I have ever seen in my life.)
Our guide for the afternoon was Kamahl, also a keen birder. He was able to point out and name the birds we saw as we went along. My list would have been much smaller if he hadn’t helped me.
Although the trip was fantastic, there were a few problems. Too much, too quick and all too soon the boat trip was over. I had to juggle the following:
- Looking at the birds
- Looking at the scenery
- Looking at the field guide to identify the birds
- Taking photographs
- Using my binoculars
- Writing a list of birds seen in my notebook
- Trying to keep my balance in the canoe
- Trying not to be scared of the man-eating Mugger Crocodiles on the sand bars just metres away!
On our recent visit to Wittunga Botanic Gardens in the Adelaide Hills I was on the lookout for both birds and flowers. The bird sightings I have dealt with on my birding blog. Since buying my digital camera last year I have had a renewed interest in photography and have recently added many photos on the family photo gallery. I attended a photography course at the Gluepot Bird Reserve soon after purchasing the camera.
The course I attended gave me many valuable hints about looking at subjects in a different light. The facilitator, professional photographer Craig Ingram, described photography as “painting with light”. Just this little snippet gave me a whole new way of looking at the subjects I try to photograph. I now see my subjects in an entirely new light – pun intended.
Photos of plants like the one above can be enhanced many times by shifting one’s perspective, angle of shooting and the angle of the sunlight falling on the flowers. The trunks of trees fascinate me, with their myriads of colours, textures, shapes and forms. Putting all these elements together can result in some pleasing shots.
Last year I travelled to a very special place. About an hour’s drive north of Waikerie in the Riverland area of South Australia is Gluepot Bird Reserve. Gluepot was once a sheep station in what is predominantly mallee country. It is called Gluepot because the various tracks through the property become like a gluepot after even a small amount of rain. Some become impassable after twenty or thirty millimetres of rain. Fortunately this amount of rain only occurs several times a year.
A few years back the property came on the market and was quickly purchased by members of Australia’s largest Birding organisation, Birds Australia. It was already known how rich the bird population was on this sheep property. It has now been established that there are more than a dozen bird species present at Gluepot that are either threatened or endangered. It is one of the few strongholds anywhere of the rare honeyeater, the Black-Eared Miner.
I had been wanting to visit Gluepot for sometime but just hadn’t got around to it. The very first course to be offered there was on developing one’s skills in nature photography. Craig Ingram was the facilitator and I enrolled hoping to learn more about using my recently purchased digital camera, the latest Canon Powershot 2S IS. The weekend was particularly good and I learned many hints on photography.
I will share more photos taken on that weekend over coming days.
- My photo gallery (including more shots taken at Gluepot)
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.