Cairn Curran Reservoir has receded significantly over the past month, it’s now at just over 84%. This is creating some nice habitats for birds, as areas of exposed mudflat develop and provide additional foraging opportunities.
Cairn Curran Reservoir, 14th March 2017
I’m yet to see any migratory waders, such as stints and sandpipers, but expect some observations over coming weeks as small flocks stop by on their northerly journey. Nonetheless, there are other sights to enjoy – A Darter was the highlight during the week. A few pairs bred in Joyce’s creek over summer and the birds are now dispersing to spend the cooler months fishing the shallow waters of the lake.
Darter at Cairn Curran
Darter and Little Pied Cormorant
Darter in flight
For the past fortnight a small flock of White-breasted Woodswallows has been gathered at Joyce’s Creek. This species, a breeding visitor to the Newstead district, is almost always found near water.
I’ve found them breeding in small, loose colonies at various places around the lake in recent years. After they’ve fledged the juveniles stay with their parents and ‘learn’ the craft of a woodswallow – aerial gymnastics in pursuit of flying prey. The rim of the lake makes a terrific training ground, with a multitude of flying insects – some of which are no match for a woodswallow. I witnessed adult woodswallows snatching dragonflies and wasps from the air as the youngsters either flew with them or begged for attention from their perches nearby.
White-breasted Woodswallows, Joyce’s Creek, 2nd March 2017
Juvenile White-breasted Woodswallow
Adult with a dragonfly caught on the wing
Adult and juvenile (with wasp)
Juvenile White-breasted Woodswallow with wasp
All species of woodswallows are renowned for their ‘huddling’
Picnic Point, 28th February 2017
This tranquil scene at Picnic Point was not as peaceful as it may appear from a distance. If you look really hard you’ll just be able to make out the Great Egret, perched in the dead eucalypt on the right hand side of the image. Moments after this shot was taken a flock of Galahs arrived and one strayed a little too close to the egret for its liking. What happened next is captured in the series of images below.
Great Egret and Galah, Picnic Point, 28th February 2017
… sans Galah
One species that has been conspicuously absent during a wet winter and spring has been the Great Egret. During our last wet period (2010-11) individuals could be seen reliably on larger wetlands and around the shores of Cairn Curran, but not so until recently.
It was no surprise though to finally observe one at Cairn Curran last week, a lone bird fishing in the shallows near the highway bridge at Joyce’s Creek. On Sunday evening I spent a glorious half-hour with one (possibly the same individual) at Picnic Point.
Great Egret, Picnic Point, 26th February 2017
Picnic Point, on the western edge of Cairn Curran never disappoints. It’s been a resting spot for Latham’s Snipe recently and I’ll be checking it regularly throughout the autumn.
Last night I had time for a brief visit and was amazed at the activity – dragonflies cruising the shallows, families of Grey Teal and both Whistling and Black Kites circling.
A pair of Masked Lapwings were very annoyed at my intrusion – a fluffy youngster disappeared into the long grass but the parents kept a noisy watch overhead. A young Australian Magpie-lark was snatching insects from the shoreline. This is a species that I’ve rarely photographed so I was pleased to capture some reasonable images.
Masked Lapwing, Picnic Point, 15th February 2017
Australian Magpie-lark (immature)
Australian Emperors … I think!
Some nice birds on the plains last evening … hopefully a cool change will allow a little more activity in the coming week … on the part of the photographer at least!
Swamp Harrier (juvenile), Newstead, 10th February 2017
Galahs @ Picnic Point
Red-rumped Parrots @ Picnic Point
Whistling Kite @ Picnic Point
One of my favourite visitors, the White-breasted Woodswallow, has bred successfully again this season around the margins of Cairn Curran.
I came across a small party last evening at Joyce’s Creek – a number of juveniles attracted my attention initially with their noisy begging calls, as the parents hawked for insects in the surrounding air.
White-breasted Woodswallows (juvenile at right), Cairn Curran @ Joyce’s Creek, 8th February 2017
Adult White-breasted Woodswallow