Mighty Murray and Big Birds

To: birding-aus <>
Subject: Mighty Murray and Big Birds
From: jenny spry <>
Date: Sun, 24 Oct 2010 14:45:46 +1100
Hi all,

After a few weeks of failed attempts I finally got to Echuca this week to
have a look at the Mighty Murray River full of water. It really was a
special sight as it swirled past my feet within a metre or so of the top of
the bank. Rest assured that photos were taken in case this year turns out to
be a one off.

The birding along the river was not easy though because the grass is so long
that even Straw-necked Ibis disappear when they land. Honeyeaters were
almost non-existent, except in towns, because none of the trees are
flowering. The ducks and other waterbirds are all there but they are hiding
in the lush rushes or swimming way off amongst the flooded gum trees. It was
very frustrating but a frustration worth putting up with to see the country
looking so good.

Now, as we all know, every good birding trip has to have a “bird of the
trip” and this one turned up a very surprising one. As I drove north-west on
the NSW side of the Murray (35d 38m 21s  144d 21m 42s) I came around a
corner and there, standing in long grass and purple flowers, was a gathering
of Ostriches. Nearest to me were a pair with three chicks and a bit further
off were six or seven more adults. There may have been more but the ones
farthest off were 500 metres + away on the edge of trees, and the tall grass
and trees might have been hiding more. Escapees? Possibly. Turned loose on
purpose? Possibly. Tickable? Possibly; but for me, I don’t think so – unless
of course someone can spin me a believable yarn about how long they have
been there, running free as the wind across the vast Riverina plains

But these birds were definitely “free range”, very shy, and were breeding.
There were no fences to hold them in and no sign of ostrich quality fencing
or fenced birds anywhere nearby. Maybe one day this group will be countable
but it was great fun to come around the corner and have the mind go .. “just
a sec, those aren’t emus!!”


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