Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Laratinga Wetlands

On the 20th of Feb (I know, I'm a bit behind) I made my way down to Laratinga Wetlands at Mt Barker, it was a bit of a trip, and perhaps not the best timing for it, arriving a day after decent rains, but it was still worth the trip. I think because it's been a wetter summer, that there was perhaps less species than what I would have seen if there had been less water elsewhere, but that could all just be in my head too.

Mt Barker city council has a nice website for the wetlands if you're interested. The site is located here. The most interesting aspect of the site, if only from a birding perspective is the link to a birdpedia article by Bob Snell regarding the occurance of bird species at the wetlands between 2000 and 2006. You can find that article here.

Needless to say, after looking at the frequently occuring species, I had my hopes set pretty high for some lifers. I was most dissapointed by the ducks, I was hoping to see Hardhead, Australasian shoveler and then the Hoary-headed grebe (not a duck, I know :P) yet didn't see any of them. As I said earlier, something I put down to having a wetter summer than usual. Still, I was pretty pleased to have such good views of plenty of Australasian grebes, a bird which although I've seen before, I've never seen in such close proximaity. Their colours, though subtle are
stunning. Though for some reason, I didn't stop to try and take a decent photo of them, I think the abundance of walkers was slightly off-putting. I'm not used to seeing people around when I'm walking and photographing birds.

The most noticeable bird when I arrived was a small flock of some large mallard-esque ducks which seemed intent on swimming around the edge of one of the ponds, following a lady walking on the path. I stopped and had a chat to her when the ducks finally climbed out of the water and walked up to her. Turns out she feeds them on a regular basis and they recognise her. I'm not sure what the hyrbid was, but they were certainly an imposing group of birds as they waddled heavily by me. This female paused long enough for a photo.

The abundance of Superb fairy-wrens was the next thing I noticed, they were very people-friendly, as far as wild fairy-wrens go, but I still struggled to get decent photos. A male chose a nice perch for preening, but the angle was a bit steep for any typical perched pose. Further up the track, 2 males in full plumage dashed out in front of me, before having a standoff in the leaf litter, hopping to and fro and calling. I tried to find a position that would make a good photo, but true to form they ducked behind twigs and kept moving to avoid the stare of my lens. I didn't thank them! =P

Wandering around the wetlands, there were plentiful Pacific black ducks, dusky moorhens, and purple swamphens (which surprised me as they were another species that I had never seen before). I was at first confused by some large, dark birds swimming through the water, they didn't seem to really fit, but it soon became obvious that they were immature purple swamphens. The purple swamphens themselves were absolutely beautiful birds, larger than I expected and with vibrant blue-purple feathers and a brilliant bright red cap and beak. They were numerous and quite confiding and I was able to spend a good deal of time photographing a number of them.

Throughout my walk a kept hearing a sweet bell-like call repeated, which was really hard to pinpoint the location of. It turned out to be the call of the little grassbird. I was frustrated because I heard the call numerous times but never managed to see one. It wasn't until the end of my walk, that I noticed two birds fluffed up in the reeds and displaying to each other, I took numerous blurry photos through the reeds, but it was enough to identify them as little grassbirds, which was fantastic, as they had been one of my target species at the wetlands. The other species I was intent on seeing was the Australian reed-warbler. Sure enough, I saw them, however they were elusive, swift moving and wouldn't perch on a nice open spot for a photo (I can dream). Still, I saw them and it was certainly interesting, they were curious towards me but also shy to not have something between themselves and me. At one point I was standing on a boardwalk watching one bird when I noticed movement closer down. Right on the edge of the boardwalk between a dark gap in the reeds I could see a little face peering through the gap at me, very inquisitive but hesitant to be any more in the open.

There weren't too many other photo ops to be had, as it grew later, a large flock of welcome swallows was hawking over and in the water for food and would perch on the reeds in the middle of one of the ponds to rest. I saw black-faced cuckoo shrike, common bronzewing, grey-shrike thrush, striated pardalote, white ibis,
white-faced heron, magpie, magpie-lark and new holland honeyeaters just to name a few. So all in all, it was quite a successful walk and I enjoyed it. It was a little strange having so many people walking around while I was photographing birds, but no-one seemed to care too much, they're probably used to it there. I think there was a jogger who passed me 4 times before I'd walked 100m at one point, haha. But still, a great water bird location and I must head back there sometime.

No comments:

Post a Comment