Sunday, 13 December 2015

Second AOC field trip to wetlands North Adelaide

Barker Inlet Wetlands
On Sunday November 29 Brian Walker led a small group from the AOC (Elliot Leach, Janice Mentiplay-Smith and Val and me) on a tour of wetlands at North Adelaide.  Our first stop was at Barker Inlet Wetlands where the highlight was seeing approximately 55 Banded Stilts.  I had only seen the species once before, a single specimen at Lake Nearie near Wentworth, New South Wales, many years ago.  An Australian Spotted Crake ran into cover and then proceeded to emerge again to give us all great views.  A single Black-tailed Godwit and a group of Black-tailed Native-hens were other species of interest.

Flock of Banded Stilts Barker Inlet Wetlands

Banded Stilts at Barker Inlet Wetlands

The next location was at Magazine Road Wetlands (Dry Creek) where some Long-toed Stints had been seen earlier in the week.  We checked out every small Sharp-tailed Sandpipers and finally Elliot saw a bird that he was happy was a Long-toed Stint.  It certainly was smaller than the other Sharp-tailed Sandpipers and the markings were quite different.  It would have been a new species for both of us but after doing some research after the trip Elliot realized that it was, in fact, an unusually marked Sharpie!!  That species is quite variable and often causes identification problems.  Twenty Wood Sandpipers were a highlight though.  I had only seen the species twice before and both times involved single birds.  A group of twenty Black-tailed Native-hens scurried for cover as we walked around the track.

Moving on to the Whites Road Wetland (Bolivar) Brian told us that the White-winged Fairy-wren occurs there.  He showed us the general area where they occur and I spotted an adult male perched on a fence post.  It is a beautiful little gem of a bird.  An Eastern Great Egret made a meal of a crayfish working it in its bill for some time, attempting to swallow it and then moving it out to its bill for further crushing.  It eventually swallowed it whole.  Thirty Chestnut Teal, 6 Pink-eared Ducks and a Yellow-billed Spoonbill and a Royal Spoonbill were on and around the sand flat in one of the ponds.

Eastern Great Egret eating crayfish Whites Road Wetland (Bolivar)

At St Kilda Elliot and I found out the hard way how soft the mud was in a drain adjacent to the saltworks.  The water in the saltworks was covered in Banded Stilts and we both wanted to get some photographs.  There were a couple of access points above the drain but we wanted to sneak up on the birds in the hope of getting some great photos so took the more direct route.  As I sank into the black ooze I was hoping that there was a bottom to the drain.  Luckily there was but I still had my boots and the bottom of my jeans totally caked in black ooze. Elliot followed me in and collected even more black ooze than I did.  We spent quite a while washing the ooze off our boots and jeans and we were worried about staining the seats of Brian's immaculate vehicle but a plastic floor mat and another piece of plastic prevented any problems.   There would have been 300+ Banded Stilts at the site - an incredible spectable.  I managed a few photos but lacking my spotting scope and camera adaptor the shots were fairly distant.  Nevertheless I was happy with a few of them.  A we were cleaning up a restored tram rattled past on the opposite side of the road.

Large flock of Banded Stilts at St Kilda saltworks

Banded Stilts St Kilda

Banded Stilts St Kilda

Restored tram, St Kilda

Not too far from the saltworks we parked near a very popular fun park which was full of children and their parents.  We walked in the opposite direction to check out the birds in the bay.  Another flock of Banded Stilts was foraging just offshore and 3,000+ Black Swans were scattered around the bay.  Six Sooty Oystercatchers, 10 Common Greenshanks and 20 Whiskered Terns were other birds of interest.

Brian and Elliot off to find some good birds!!! St Kilda

Flock of Banded Stilts on mudflats at St Kilda (Black Swans in background)

Little Pied Cormorant, St Kilda
Black Swans in flight and on the water, St Kilda

After a longish half day with the excitement of nearly drowning in black ooze Brian dropped us back to our respective places of accommodation.  Another really enjoyable trip.

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