Category Archives: Cairn Curran

Happy New Year and 2018 reprised

Best wishes for 2019 to all readers of Natural Newstead. Thank you for the kind comments over the past year. Here is a selection of some of my favourite images – one for each month of 2018.

Southern Boobook, Wyndham Street Newstead, 23rd January 2018

Red-capped Robin (female), Rise and Shine, 18th February 2018

Great Egret @ Cairn Curran, 14th March 2018

Male Flame Robin, Mia Mia Track, 25th April 2018 … first of the season

Silvereye feeding on Ruby Saltbush in the home garden, 25th May 2018

Yellow-footed Antechinus, Rise and Shine, 23rd June 2018

Hooded Robins, Newstead Cemetery, 28th July 2018

Eastern Spinebill, Wyndham Street Newstead, 12th August 2019

Blue-winged Parrot, South German Track, 8th September 2018

Sacred Kingfishers, Mia Mia Track area, 20th October 2018

Nankeen Kestrel, Moolort Plains, 1st November 2018

Rainbow Bee-eater, Sandon State Forest, 31st December 2018

Sandpipers on the wing

It’s lots of fun photographing migratory waders in flight.

This flock of Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, with a single Curlew Sandpiper put on a great display last weekend. How they manage to wheel and turn, without colliding and in perfect harmony, is a mystery to me!

Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, Cairn Curran, 6th October 2018

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Curlew Sandpiper (top) accompanied by a ‘sharpie’

Frequent flyers

It’s that time of year when migrating waders arrive in small numbers to Cairn Curran (and surrounding natural wetlands in a wet year).

I’m always on the lookout for a surprise visitor. Sharp-tailed Sandpipers breed in northern Siberia and are regular visitors to our area, albeit in small numbers, during Spring and Summer. Curlew Sandpipers also breed in northern Siberia, but are much less common than ‘sharpies’ – in fact the species is listed as critically endangered. Both species make the 10,000 km trip twice yearly between the continents, an amazing feat for a 60 gram wader!

While life is not always easy in Australia their main threats are habitat loss at key staging points on the East Asian-Australasian Flyway where the impact of development and habitat loss are increasing.

At the weekend I was delighted to spend some time with a flock of ~ 25 Sharp-tailed Sandpipers at the lake … a lone Curlew Sandpiper keeping them company. The birds were particularly confiding, foraging to within a few metres as I watched in awe.

Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, Cairn Curran Reservoir, 6th October 2018

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… and a lone Curlew Sandpiper

The world’s fastest bird

The Peregrine Falcon is the world’s fastest bird. Stooping birds can reach speeds in excess of 300 km/hr, while in level flight they exude power and grace.

Peregrine Falcons have a global distribution, occurring on all continents except Antarctica. They almost exclusively feed on birds, caught on the wing. We have small number of pairs locally and every encounter with this incredible raptor is etched into my memory.

Peregrine Falcon, Newstead area, 28th September 2018

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Raptor portraits

Of all the birds, raptors are perhaps the most thrilling to observe from close range.

The Little Eagle, pictured below, allowed me to approach to within ten metres or so – I think the closest I’ve ever been to this magnificent bird. All of the shots are virtually full frame.

Black-shouldered Kite, Newstead, 8th September 2018

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Little Eagle @ Joyce’s Creek

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Foggy morning at Joyce’s Creek

Cairn Curran Reservoir (8am) … The fog lifted to reveal the glassy surface of the storage … Yellow-billed Spoonbills, Little Black Cormorants and Australasian Darters perched in the dead trees along Joyce’s Creek.

A flock of 100 plus Eurasian Coots were congregated near the highway bridge while for a couple of Pied Cormorants a day of fishing beckoned.

Eurasian Coots, Cairn Curran, 26th August 2018

Pied Cormorant

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At Joyce’s Creek

The ‘inlet’ at Joyce’s Creek is always worth a visit, especially when there are good inflows into Cairn Curran. After being on a falling trend for much of the winter, storage levels are gently rising at present from decent late winter rain. This is providing good foraging habitat for Black Swans, a variety of ducks and small waders, as well as the water birds pictured below. This spot will be well worth a visit over coming weeks.

Australian Pelican, Joyce’s Creek, 19th August 2018

Yellow-billed Spoonbills

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