I've just returned from 6 weeks travelling and tutoring in outback SA and lower
NT. There were lots of birds and flowers and rain and mud all over the place
and may get to post about some of my experiences later. On the way home I even
had a few surprising experiences to break the stresses of driving all the way
back from Uluru alone in 6 days.
My second last overnight stop was at Murray Bridge. As I have a friend living
there I have made this a stop on a few occasions over the last few years in
different seasons and now make a visit to the Rocky Gully Wetlands on the road
to Mannum on the western side of the river a regular call. This wetland is
overlooked by the meatworks and just after crossing the railway line.
On Tuesday evening it was at its best I've ever seen. Water everywhere and
birds everywhere. I notched up a respectable list of 26 species within about
half an hour. Several species were obviously breeding, including Silver Gulls,
Black-winged Stilt and Grey Teal.
Walking around the track on the western side I noticed a wader of some kind
standing on the narrow, low footbridge that forms part of the track. Looking
through my scope my first instinct was snipe. I'm not very good with wader ID,
so hoping not to disturb the bird, I quietly returned to the car for my camera.
The bird was surprisingly still on the footbridge. After taking the first
couple of photos I tried to move closer and of course it moved - but only as
far as a nearby relatively bare bank of the wetland. I was able to take a
series of photos over about 10 minutes as I circumnavigated the north-west
corner of the wetland on the track. I got some reasonable photos of the bird
(and some wonderful ones of grass seedheads between the bird and myself).
On the way back to my motel room I desperately tried to remember the name of
the Murray Bridge contributor to Birding Aus - Trevor..., Trevor H..., Trevor
Ham.., Trevor Hampel! Access to my computer to check whether I still had his
name in my inbox was difficult, but the motel room did have a local phone book
and could find a T. Hampel living in Murray Bridge and gave the number a call
before I lost my bravery. A woman answered and said Trevor the birder did live
there and was able to speak to me - BINGO!
Trevor talked me out of thinking I'd seen a Snipe - maybe a Common Sandpiper
with a long beak, and hadn't been there lately but would look the next day. On
looking at the photo with birding friend Alan Crawford on the way home two days
later we felt it was definitely a Snipe - Painted Snipe - male. But looking at
my photos once more its not quite like any in the books - it didn't have a
white stripe over the crown.
I have no way of putting my photos on the web, but am willing to send them to
anyone interested for verification and/or interest.
If you are passing through or in the area please try to find it again - it
might be worth watching.
This site is well worth a visit if you are passing through. Easy access with
its own carpark.
PS. Thanks for taking my call Trevor!
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