I start all of my birding ‘expeditions’ with a sense of expectation, hoping for something new or unusual.
I’m often pleasantly surprised, but never let-down, even when a journey produces the expected sightings. Such was the case as I wheeled around Cairn Curran on Sunday evening. Others on the list included: Black-fronted Dotterel, Red-kneed Dotterel, Whistling Kite, Brown Falcon, Nankeen Kestrel, Darter, Grey Teal, Australian Shelduck, Wood Duck and White-fronted Chat.
Australian Pelican, Picnic Point, 9th February 2020
Purple Swamphen on the Loddon River @ Baringhup
Picnic Point, on the western shores of Cairn Curran, is always worth a visit – it’s a good spot for a variety of raptors. I was pleased in this sequence to capture a Whistling Kite utter it’s iconic call. If you aren’t familiar with the call of the Whistling Kite I’m sure you will have heard it in the soundtrack of many an Australian outback movie!
Brown Falcon, Picnic Point, 8th January 2020
Black-fronted and Red-kneed Dotterels are common inhabitants of the mudflat areas around Cairn Curran.
The former can be found along open, gravelly beaches as well as bare mudflats, whereas the latter enjoys similar habitats but is never found far from the cover of fringing vegetation. Red-kneed Dotterels are actually less common or even absent when the reservoir is full. A small flock of Black-tailed Native-hens has taken up residence under the old railway bridge that crosses Joyce’s Creek. These comical birds are alert and secretive – difficult to photograph at the best of times. A single Latham’s Snipe was also spotted (at a distance), further upstream along the creek – the only one I’ve seen so far this summer. These magical birds breed in Japan and east Asia, visiting southern Australia in small numbers from spring through to early autumn each year. They rarely venture from cover during the daylight hours.
Black-fronted Dotterel, Joyce’s Creek, 3rd January 2019
Mating Black-fronted Dotterels
Distant views of a lone Latham’s Snipe
This Little Eagle has featured a few times in recent weeks. Not so long ago it was a fluffy white eaglet, now it’s almost ready to leave the nest, transformed into a fully fledged rabbit hunter over a matter of weeks. The rich chocolate underparts are a distinctive feature of young Little Eagles. Also prominent are the feathered tarsi, a characteristic this species shares with the Wedge-tailed Eagle – the only two Australian raptors with fully feathered legs.
Juvenile Little Eagle, Joyce’s Creek, 2nd January 2019
Nearby I enjoyed watching Black-winged Stilts feeding in the shallows of Joyce’s Creek. There are around half a dozen present – their gentle ‘yapping’ calls have been a feature of most visits in recent months.
Black-winged Stilt @ Joyce’s Creek
A trio of Black-winged Stilts feeding in the shallows at Joyce’s Creek was yesterday’s highlight.
Black-winged Stilt, Joyce’s Creek, 28th December 2019
Trio of stilts
Landscapes come in different shapes and sizes … all are inhabited by birds of infinite variety.
Black-fronted Dotterel, Cairn Curran @ Joyce’s Creek, 8th December 2019
Wood Ducks heading towards the plains
The Great Egret is the epitome of elegance. A single bird has been feeding on the edge of the channel at Joyce’s Creek in recent days – looking poised and balanced in the air and on terra firma.
Great Egret, Cairn Curran, 5th December 2019
Australian White Ibis
Black Kite … inquisitive as usual