Friday, February 15, 2013

Greenfields Wetlands

After struggling to find detailed information on these wetlands, I've taken a bit of time to explore them a little so that I could share some information about them. Thanks is owed to Tony for his original information which enabled me to find the northern Magazine rd site in the first place.

Greenfields Wetlands are a series of man-made wetlands which were created in three stages in 1990, 1993 and 1995 and consist of three main sites (two of which I've visited recently).

The Watershed site: Google map with marker 
-Accessible directly from Salisbury Highway in both directions, the entrance and parking area is as for the Watershed Cafe.
-To the extent of my knowledge, the Watershed trails are accessible only during opening hours of the Watershed Cafe from which a key must be obtained for the gate. Although this information is second-hand to me from some time ago, I will update this blog when I find out.

Magazine road South: Google map with marker 
-Not accessible from Salisbury Highway, the turnoff for these wetlands is off of Cormack road. The wetland entrance is at the end of Magazine rd where there is an open gate in the fence.
-The walking trails consist of one main trail which forks at the pumping station (or at the grey fenced in box, whatever it may be).
-The fork to the right crosses Salisbury highway (though I've never taken it that far) and joins the northern section of Barker Inlet Wetlands. See here: Barker Inlet Wetlands brochure (While connected to Barker Inlet Wetlands, Magazine road South is still known as part of Greenfields, at the very least for the purpose of eremaea listing, as I checked with them regarding this issue as I wasn't 100% sure)
-The fork to the left can cross the wetland on a rocky divide, this may be seasonally underwater and may restrict access to the further reaches of the wetland at some times of the year.

Mud map with parking area (P) and walking trails (green and yellow)

-I'm unsure as to how much further the green trail continues as when I visited I didn't take it all the way, parts of the track further up seemed quite overgrown, but it may have just been overdue for a tidy-up.
-Views to the water at this site can be somewhat obstructed at times, but there are also plenty of easy viewing points.

Magazine road North: Google map with marker 
-Accessible directly from Salisbury highway in both directions (at the blue marker on the map), this wetland is visible directly from the road. The parking area and walking trail is located two hundred meters or so up the road (from the blue marker) on the right hand side next to a gate for the salt works.
-This location has a bird hide along the main path (keep to the left/straight), the sun sets behind it so the best time to visit the hide is from the afternoon onward. Views to the water are largely unobstructed on both of the trails.
-This area of wetlands is fantastic for waders and other water birds due to the varying depths and sizes of ponds, and the expanse of mud flats that gradually become exposed over summer.

Mud map of parking area (P), bird hide (H) and walking trails (green and yellow) at Magazine road North

-I'm unsure as to how far the walking trail extends beyond the hide as I have not yet continued past the hide.
-Looking out from the northeast corner of the yellow trail is an expanse of samphire flats, and is the best area to look for White-fronted Chats.

I hope this has been even the tiniest bit helpful to anybody who wants to visit these locations. I felt it was important to share as there have been many occasions when I've been seeking Information on birding sites and it isn't accessible, easy to find, or even written about at all! So if this helps even just one person, I will be happy.

Monday, February 4, 2013

A tale of two Kites

In reality, this is mostly just a tale about one very beautiful Square-tailed Kite, however there is also a brief cameo by a Whistling Kite. I was on my way to the Barossa, for some birding time at Altona CSR Landcare Reserve, one of my frequent locals haunts up until the beginning of this year. I was driving through the back roads of Para Wirra when I flushed the Whistling Kite from the roadside where it had been feeding on some roo roadkill.

The Kite took to the trees, avidly pursued by two Little Ravens and a Grey Currawong. Needless to say, I quickly pulled over and snapped a couple of images out the car window before the attentions of the currawong became too much for the Kite, and it took off.

Whistling Kite (Para Wirra Recreation Park)

It was while I was walking at Altona that I came across the star of the show. I happened to glance at the treeline and thought that a particular branch happened to look "a bit funny." A quick zoom and snap with the camera revealed the culprit. I took a couple of record shots, before deciding to try and move closer to the bird (the path was leading me right to it).

 Square-tailed Kite (Altona CSR Landcare Reserve)

I managed to find a gap in the trees through which to photograph the bird and watched as it ruffled, preened and pooped in its relaxed state.

 The extra-rare headless form!!

After a time, the Kite turned its back to me and I thought I might be able to use it to my advantage to gain some more ground on the bird, and a slightly less cluttered angle.

Much to my pleasant surprise, I walked closer and the Kite barely even blinked, it was very relaxed and settled in to preen again. In fact, the only time it did flinch was when the noise sounding "gun machines" from a nearby property started up. It flinched the first 3 times, then after that, paid it no attention either.

Getting those hard-to-reach places.

While I settled in to watch, the bird simply went about its business of preening. Every now and then it would look straight at me, just to remind me that it was perfectly aware of my presence, but really wasn't too fussed. There were several times when the bird would look in one place and bob its head up and down a few times. It was interesting to see, and I wondered whether it had seen something and was trying to get a better perspective on it.

After preening, it was time for some sunning. I felt really privileged to not only get to spend a whole 20 minutes with this bird, but that I got to see some interesting behaviour as well. I got worried when the wings came out, but it was only for a bit of Vitamin D!

Then came the yoga...

After a few more wing stretches, the Kite's presence became known to a local pair of Grey Fantails, who saw it as their duty to swoop and dive and chatter and tease. The Kite became more alert, but still didn't seem too phased.

At long last, the experience had to end, and it was either going to end with the Kite taking off, or me running out of space on my memory cards. As it turned out, 353 photos later, the Kite casually went on its way and circled over the center of the park for a time (at which point Chris Steeles: managed some great flight shots) before disappearing into the big blue.

A poor quality image, but posted for the feather moult pattern in wings and tail.