Yesterday, a small band of birdos kicked off the new year with a relaxed excursion in the Sale area.
We began at Lake Guyatt where the resident Pelicans sat grooming themselves among the Wood Ducks, Coots and Moorhens. A scan of the marshy foreground through the binoculars resulted in spotting a good number of Latham’s Snipe. Every now and then half a dozen would fly off to a nearby island and we’d think, “That’s it, they’ve all gone”, then someone would pin point another group hidden in the grasses. We estimated something like 30 birds in total. Apparently these annual migrants from Japan arrive in large flocks in August – September but depart for their breeding grounds in just ones and twos around mid to late summer. Guyatt has always been a popular local spot to find them.
We then did a little car tour of some of the back roads on the western boundary of Sale. Cormorants were nesting in a large gum beside a waterhole in a farm paddock, and nearby was a small group of Whistling Kites. No doubt, the association of these two species was deliberate. A wedge-tailed Eagle was perched in a big Red Gum on the side of the road too. This little back lane often seems to produce a nice collection of raptor species.
After a bit more of ‘follow-the-leader’, (and gee, isn’t good being in the lead car?), we arrived at Red Gate Reserve. Rufous Whistlers, Grey Fantails, Blue Wrens, White-throated Treecreepers, Brown Thornbills and the like, kept us busy with identifications. This tiny reserve right on the edge of town often produces a nice array of open woodland species.
We were getting thirsty and hungry by now, and so we adjourned to a small café/restaurant for some refreshment and talk. Not all birding should be bush bashing and squashed sandwiches!
The afternoon was devoted to a wander along the boardwalk at the Sale Common. Ducks, Pelicans, Spoonbills, Herons, were in good supply and the Darter and Cormorant rookery was well occupied. The Darters in particular seem to have been rearing chicks for several months now and apparently this can go on for some time. The literature advises that Darters will nest in small rookeries of well spaced nests, or often in a lone position. This site seems to belie that advice, as several of the nests seem to be almost on top of one another.
A slow walk back to the cars, with a light easterly breeze refreshing us, and then a cool drink or a cuppa in the shade wound up a beaut day. Thanks everyone, see you in February.