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Birds of South Australia - #4 – Port Lincoln / Adelaide / Kangaroo Island
contributed by cougar15
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We have just returned from a 6-night cruise aboard P&O’s Pacific Jewel – Melbourne / Port Lincoln / Adelaide / Kangaroo Island / Melbourne.
Our first day at sea provided many opportunities to observe and photograph several different species of sea-going birdlife.
At one stage, a magnificent Royal Albatross trailed our ship for well over an hour. It thrilled everyone lucky enough to witness its skill and ease of flight in turbulent winds and close to the ocean’s surface.
Other seabirds to thrill were – Great-winged / White-chinned Petrel, Shy Albatross and Australasian Gannet.
Our first port of call was Port Lincoln, South Australia, where I covered the nearby harbour walkways and a good section of the Parnkalla Trail.
There were good numbers of Welcome Swallow, Pied / Black-faced Cormorant, Pied Oystercatcher, Australian Pelican, and, of course, the ubiquitous Feral Pigeon and Silver Gull around the harbour.
The section of the Parnkalla Trail I walked was close to the township and produced sightings of New Holland Honeyeater, Rainbow Lorikeet, Galah, Australian Raven, Australian Magpie, Magpie-lark, Willie Wagtail, Common Bronzewing, Red Wattlebird, House Sparrow, Welcome Swallow, Noisy Miner, Common Starling and Common Blackbird.
Our next port of call was Adelaide. However, as we had visited this city only 12 months ago, I decided to restrict my birding activities to the precinct of our docking location – at North Haven.
My first target was to walk along the North Haven Beach to the housing development around the local marina. Unfortunately, the beach was almost deserted and all I came across were a few Silver Gulls and some Australian White Ibis.
Next, I wandered along the edge of the marina, with the same result.
I then noticed a pathway across the sand-dunes heading back towards our ship. There was limited vegetation along the pathway but I thought it was the best birding site on offer.
The first clump of shrubs along the path sparked my interest when several House Sparrows and a Grey Fantail flew off into the distance. Then a single tree next to it gave rise to the sound of a Singing Honeyeater which hung around long enough for me to capture a reasonable image.
Shortly afterwards, there were more sparrows, Australian Magpie, Crested Pigeon, Spotted Turtle-Dove, Magpie-lark, Common Starling and Common Blackbird.
Things were looking up !!!
I then came to the path’s end and had to decide whether I should return to the ship or head off in the direction of Adelaide along the railway line.
I decided on the latter course and shortly afterwards came across the entrance to the North Haven Golf Course.
There was an awfully loud squabble from one of the cyprus pines on the course which sounded like a couple of large birds having a domestic. The ruckus warranted closer investigation so I entered the golf course and came across a pair of Nankeen Night-Herons defending their territory against an interloper of the same species.
And what a sight it was to witness this ‘dust-up’ on top of the pine.
Back home, we rarely see Night-Herons overtly active during daylight hours and to do so on this occasion was a very special moment.
Before leaving the golf course I heard another commotion from a flowering gum in a remote corner of the members’ car-park. The culprits were several Musk / Rainbow Lorikeet and Red Wattlebirds extracting their cherished nectar.
Finally, on my way back to our ship, I came across an Australian Raven under attack from a number of Noisy Miners, presumably, defending their territory.
So, there appears to be significant tension amongst the local bird populations this time of year.
After leaving our Adelaide port we headed for Kangaroo Island where we anchored the following morning.
Passenger transfer ashore to the little township of Penneshaw was carried out by way of the ship’s tender boats.
The township was well prepared for the influx of the ship’s passengers with its friendly / well trained local volunteer guides and an appropriate fleet of tour / shuttle buses at the ready. A market was setup close by and there was a range of very interesting cafes / hotels / restaurants geared up to meet our needs.
There was a magnificent young Wedge-tailed Eagle, which had been orphaned and subsequently hand-raised by the local wildlife protection authority, perched on display at the market.
Well done, Penneshaw !!!
It was, however, unfortunate that a number of public works were in progress rendering the streetscape somewhat ugly and even hazardous to walkers.
Another annoyance, and something over which local authorities have little control, was the millions of flies inhabiting this part of the island. They were everywhere throughout our visit and forced most passengers to consider returning to the ship prematurely. Upon landing ashore, I headed for the nearest supermarket to purchase some strong fly repellent. No doubt the owner would have sold a truck-load of the ‘buzz-off stuff’ before we departed the island and headed back to the sanctuary of our ship.
During my visit I walked as far as my legs could manage, up and down hills, for over 3 hours. Whilst I was generally disappointed with the limited range of local birdlife, I did manage a few shots of New Holland Honeyeater, Welcome Swallow, Superb Fairy-wren and (a trip highlight) a Hooded Plover scurrying along the shoreline of Frenchman’s Beach.
Whilst on that beach I also saw a pod of 10-12 Dolphin lazing in the sunshine close to shore.
At Christmas Cove there were substantial colonies of Black-faced Cormorant and Crested Tern.
The next day of our voyage was a day at sea.
We encountered a 4-5 metre swell and lengthy periods of rainfall. It was an unfortunate turn in the weather for our return to Victorian waters and very poor conditions for birdlife photography.
I did, however, capture a few images of Great-winged / White-chinned Petrel, Australasian Gannet and Shy Albatross from the open decks. It was nothing like I had hoped for given the wonderful experience we had with the Royal Albatross at the beginning of our cruise.
But, in golfing parlance, that’s the ‘rub of the green’ when you are out and about with Nature trying to satisfy your birding addiction.
The following morning saw us docked in Melbourne, after a memorable voyage to South Australia, and ready for return to our beloved Phillip Island.
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