Friday, March 18, 2016

Killarney Beach Sanderling

Sanderling, Killarney Beach, SW Victoria, Australia
So I did catch up with some Sanderling at Killarney Beach last weekend. It took some persistence. For instance I watched a group of stint for some 45 minutes before concluding "Nope that's not what I'm after!" In their non-breeding colours they are had to tell apart if not seen adjacent.

Casting the binoculars to the far eastern sweep of the little bay I spotted a group of small shorebirds on a sandy section of the beach. Closer inspection required!

Yes, they have a cleaner, whiter appearance and are not as tiny - but the difference in behaviour from the Red-necked stint was clear. The Sanderling were moving in and out along the wet sand following the receding waves back, running away when the water comes in again, like someone in runners surprised by a wave.

I enjoyed observing and photographing. They were reasonably obliging. It was possible to pick a point that they were heading towards and wait ....

A single Double-banded plover had arrived from New Zealand
A young-looking Red-capped plover was also hanging around
The Sanderling were found close to the boat-ramp carpark at the eastern end of the Killarney Beach lagoon
I was so keen on checking my stint vs sanderling ID that I used the video setting on my camera to record some behaviour. Unfortunately it's not real steady as it is perched only on a monopod!


Bird on!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Birding Killarney Beach

Dull but dry! Looking west from Killarney Beach towards the Port Fairy lighthouse. Low tide exposes the weed covered rocks which protect the beach from the surf.

Aahh, not enough time! Precious few moments to take in some serious birding, even less time for blogging. However I so enjoyed some birding moments at the weekend, I feel inspired to pen a post or two.

Labour Day long weekend in Victoria generally finds me at the Port Fairy Folk Festival. This year was no exception and I tore myself away from the music for a few hours to Killarney Beach, a reasonably reliable spot for Sanderling and other shorebirds, so I have read.

Being a long weekend I was sharing the beach with horse-riders, dog walkers, fisherman (a few of each) and a lone swimmer (yikes - it's the Southern Ocean for goodness sake!).

I was keen for Sanderling and I spent some time (read "45 minutes") watching a group of waders trying to convince myself that they weren't Red-necked stint and failed - they were. The low-tide had revealed seaweed-covered rocky reefs and patches of exposed seagrass. This underwater garden was laid bare for the camouflaged shorebirds to feast upon.

Several Red-necked stint and two Ruddy turnstone (look hard!)
The stints in particular loved the patches of sea-grass. There was also a pair of Pied oystercatcher and a young Kelp gull hanging around.

Oystercatcher, stint and turnstone
Kelp gull
These seagrass patches and reefs are just 50 metres to the west of the car park. Heading further west along the beach towards Port Fairy we come in to some serious Hooded plover territory. I saw six birds including a chick.

Distant view of an adult Hooded plover sending its chick to the safety of dune shrubs - away from the approaching photographer
Meet Hooded plover (Orange flag YY), proud parent doing its thing distracting me away from the chick "Come hither!"
Volcanic rock forms the reefs protecting the little bay from the Southern Ocean surf. White-fronted chat forage

Black swan and gulls including this Kelp gull were among the fly-bys.

Looking east, low tide Killarney Beach. You can see two small "islands" of sea grass
Now if you want Sanderling try heading East from the carpark! More to follow ...

Bird on!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Lake Mournpall, Hattah Lakes NP

Mulga parrot (male) near Lake Mournpall
This post from a trip in October 2014 could have been my Unfinished Symphony! I have just come across the "draft" commenced before a blogging break. It features shots from a memorable overnight camp at Lake Mournpall camping area in NW Victoria.

Australian ringneck (the Mallee version)
& another
Lifer and target species (for obvious reasons)! Major Mitchell's Cockatoo was a highlight.
Major Mitchell's cockatoo. The Birds in Backyards page has an impressive list of regional alternative names ...
This cockatoo is also known as Leadbeater's, Desert, Major Mitchell or Pink Cockatoo; Cocklerina, Chockalott or Wee Juggler
Another MMC - wouldn't quite oblige with a full crest display to show the yellow band.
Blinkin' stick keeping it real! Splendid fairy-wren

Chestnut-rumped thornbill
and again
Spotted pardalote giving me some tongue

The well-appointed Lake Mournpall campground

Dawn at Lake Mournpall from the campground - this is October 2014 the lake was pretty full due to environmental flows
Great crested grebe
Typical spinifex - no definite sightings for me of those rarities Striated grass-wren and Mallee emu-wren
"All for the driver" I've not really been proud of a car before but I was so proud of my little AWD Impreza getting me to these places!

Bird on!