Category Archives: Cairn Curran

A short stint at the lake

It hasn’t exactly been a bumper year for migratory waders at Cairn Curran. This Red-necked Stint is the only bird I’ve seen so far this season – happy in the company of a flock of Red-capped Plovers. Conditions are excellent for waders at present and will improve in coming months as the water recedes to reveal expanses of mudflats. It will be fascinating to see what turns up.

Red-necked Stint amongst Red-capped Plovers, Cairn Curran, 12th December 2017

Red-necked Stint (background) with Red-capped Plover

II

Female (at left) and male Red-capped Plovers

Male Red-capped Plover

A lonely wanderer

I was pleasantly surprised to see this bird earlier in the week at Cairn Curran. It’s a Pink-eared Duck, a species that is common in the district in wetter years where it can be seen in moderate sized flocks and often breeds on the Moolort wetlands. This one looked pretty lonely!

Pink-eared Duck, Cairn Curran, 29th November 2017

II

III

Australian Pelican

Red-capped Plover (male)

Reed-warbling …

I’ve been trying for years to get some decent images of Australian Reed-warblers, especially that iconic shot of one perched sideways on the stem of a reed. It remains an ongoing project.

This bird was spotted singing in a small patch of Common Reed on the east side of the Joyce’s Creek bridge. It was so focused on calling that it pretty much ignored me as I approached slowly and managed this sequence.

Also, interesting to note is the psyllid damage on the River Red-gum leaves in the background on a couple of the images. Many of the local eucalypts are suffering at the moment. This post on the FOBIF site is an excellent summary of some of the issues.

Australian Reed-warbler, Cairn Curran, 12th November 2017

IV

II

III

V

Red-caps at Cairn Curran

While I’ve yet to encounter any migratory waders at Cairn Curran this season the locals are a highlight of most visits. Pairs of Black-fronted Dotterels and Red-capped Plovers are scattered around the shoreline, especially in the flatter areas where the receding water is creating ideal feeding habitat. Not all the adults are in full breeding glory yet – the first male pictured below is slightly more resplendent than the second male.

Red-capped Plover (male), Cairn Curran, 10th November 2017

Another male

A trio of Red-capped Plovers

Now a quartet

Eyes only for the camera

TI sat for nearly an hour waiting for a ‘wing stretch’ … this is the best I managed.

Caspian encounter

Getting up close to wild birds requires a combination of skill, patience and luck.

I reckon patience is the key.

This pair of Caspian Terns, looking resplendent in full breeding plumage were fishing along the shores of Cairn Curran at Joyce’s Creek. After a while they came down to bathe which allowed me to quietly approach to within 20 metres or so for the following set of images. What a wonderful privilege to be able to spend some time up close with such magnificent birds. I also spotted a single ‘marsh tern’, most likely a Whiskered Tern, while watching their larger relatives.

Caspian Terns, Cairn Curran Reservoir, 7th November 2017

II

III

IV

V

I recognise the bird …

… but have no idea about the plant … help wanted!

The White-fronted Chats were from a small flock foraging along the shores of Cairn Curran near Picnic Point.

The succulent was growing profusely amongst the basalt rocks nearby.

Note: Now confidently identified as Creeping Monkey-flower Thyridia repens (formerly Mimulus repens) … many thanks for your responses!

White-fronted Chat (female), 29th October 2017

II

III

I’m keen to know what this prostrate succulent is called

Residents of the reeds

A tiny patch of habitat at Joyce’s Creek is a nice illustration of how small can be beautiful.

Largely consisting of Common Reed Phragmites australis, it sits on the eastern bank of the storage just as you turn off the highway. The patch is no more than 0.1 hectares and yet each spring it provides breeding habitat for Australian Reed-warblers and Superb Fairy-wrens. The warblers arrive in September, just as the Common Reed is sending up new shoots amongst the previous season’s dead thatch. At least half a dozen warblers spend the summer here raising families. The surprise was a fleeting glimpse of a Little Grassbird, not spotted here previously. This other denizen of the reeds is a district resident that moves around locally, especially when the wetlands are full. It spends much of the year along the Loddon River where you can often hear their distinctive calls from deep in the riparian habitat from which they rarely emerge for photographers!

Common Reed @ Joyce’s Creek, 20th October 2017

Little Grassbird – a fleeting view

Male Superb Fairy-wren

II