March 1st 2003
BIRDING ON THE ROCK - March
February has been the celebration of World Wetlands and their importance to the health of the planet. The recent welcome rains have returned many of our seasonal wetlands to their primordial swamp state - much to the relief of the local wildlife. The Horseshoe Bay Lagoons, the Cockle Bay ephemeral wetland, and the Bolger Bay Ti tree swamps have burst into life.
The fringing mangroves in Geoffrey, Horseshoe, Cockle, Bolger and Young Bays have enjoyed a 'fresh flush' and are teeming with birdlife as a result.
The saltpans at Bolger Bay have been home to a flock of about 30 Royal Spoonbills - who seem to use it as a high tide roost - and numerous Waders, Eastern Curlews, Whimbrels, Godwits and the odd Sandpiper. The Cockle Bay wetland is host to Little, Intermediate and Great Egrets as well as White Faced Herons who also use it as a high tide roost.
In the absence of any wetlands with water, the Plumed Whistling Ducks, Pacific Black Ducks and Australasian Grebes have been in residence on the Nelly Bay Sewerage Treatment Plant ponds in Kelly Street since Christmas. The thought of such lovely birds 'hanging out' in the human effluent treatment ponds is too much for some (my niece and her friends) but is considered a traditional upper class residence for many water birds. In Darwin a Black Tie Cocktail Party fundraiser is held at the local Sewerage Ponds each year. The diversity of birdlife is extraordinary - not at all enhanced by the diversity of cocktails drunk. Since the recent rains all but a few birds have relocated to the Horseshoe Bay Lagoons.
Our local celebration of World Wetland day was a guided walk around the Horshoe Bay Lagoon track on Sunday 8the of February. Charlie McColl expertly described the ecosystems, wildlife and resident birdlife of the area. The Bar Shouldered Dove is the signature bird of the Lagoon area as it is in residence through wet and dry and its distinctive call gives notice of its presence. The birdlist for the morning was impressive. Yellowbellied Sunbirds were in abundance, as were plovers, Torres Strait Pigeons, Sulphur Crested Cockatoos and Fig Birds. Both Leaden and Satin flycatchers were enjoying the Paperbark Ti Tree habitat and Brownbacked Honeyeaters have constructed a nest in the 1st, very small spindly Paperbarks on the edge of the Lagoon. Purple Swamphens wandered fearlessly and the Whistling Kite paid a short visit.
The highlight of the morning was the two Crows feeding a juvenile Channel Bill Cuckoo in the bushland opposite the Lagoon entrance. This was something of a coup for the slightly worse for wear members of our group - Robyn and Bernie - who had to retire early to Maggies for a restorative Cappuccino. Fortunately they managed to identify and pass on this impressive find.
The Horshoe Bay lagoons are now filled with water and the birdlife has returned in abundance. Take the binos and make it your easiest birdwatching stop off for the year.
Please join us for the last chance Wader spotting at Retreat Creek on Sunday 30.03.03. The migrat0ory Wading birds will be off back to the far reaches of the Northern hemisphere in March. We may see some in their beautiful breeding plumage before they depart. Look forward to your being there
NEXT OUTING: Retreat Creek Waders
Sunday 9.03.03 2.30 PM
Meet at the Bolger Bay Water Treatment Plant at 2.30PM
Drive to entrance. Park. Walk in to mouth of Creek to view Waders on Sandbar
Hat, Sunscreen, water and repellant essential.