Winter Update

The wet season has drizzled to a close through June and we are now experiencing some dry weather with mostly sunny days and quite cold nights. River mist is often a feature of these cold, clear mornings as we experienced yesterday at the start of a tour with Murray the Daintree Boatman. In spite of the cold it was a wonderful morning excursion and we were able to enjoy lengthy observations of a Great-billed Heron both on the main river and in Barratt Creek. It was peaceful on the water in the early morning, watching the bird with only occasional quiet talk and the whir of camera motor-drives breaking the silence.

Murray heading in to pick up his passengers
Fabulous reflections in the still water as we waited for the Heron to move into better light

Back at Wild Wings & Swampy Things …… early June a little flock of Spotted Whistling ducks arrived and stayed for a few weeks. We watched their movements with interest as they shared a pond with Betty Barratt, the crocodile who frequently enjoys our hospitality. The larger and apparently more senior Spotted Whistling Duck, which we took to be the male, kept a very close look-out after one of the flock went missing.

Spotted Whistling Ducks in the background – living dangerously.

Betty continues her quiet life in our ponds while they hold sufficient water for her to feel comfortable. She is becoming a little more adventurous this year with more frequent movements between ‘Graham’ and ‘Rupert’ (all our ponds have names) leaving a muddy track on the bund wall separating the two ponds.

Many of the ‘bush birds’ have been a little quiet in the last week, possibly due to cold and sometimes windy weather. A few Magpie geese have been hanging around recently and several days ago, having noticed some trampled sedge, I was able to observe an adult goose with at least four, possibly five goslings. My dusk sighting didn’t enable a good view so Allen and I went out the next morning to see what was happening. We walked to Graham’s hide first; no visible goose activity but Betty was sunning herself amongst the waterlilies looking distinctly satisfied.

Is that a self-satisfied gleam in her eye?

We walked down to the ’07 ponds (never properly named!) from where we could hear geese. There were several lookout birds honking from surrounding trees and nervous parents on the water with only two goslings. As Allen saw both a Sea Eagle and a Brahminy Kite having a go at the goslings later in the morning he was loath to blame Betty but the next morning only one gosling remained.

One gosling closely guarded

This morning the geese were sounding very unsettled, Betty was swimming around below the trees in which they perched and there was no gosling to be seen. There was, however, a Black Bittern skulking around on a small island in between the sedge plants (Rhynchospora corymbosa). It’s fun to have the opportunity to observe a BB without being seen although I didn’t see any dramatic action. Their ability to hold a pose for minutes on end with no apparent movement is extraordinary.

Female Black Bittern in typical pose on Crake Island in Graham’s Pond

And so life on the ponds continues, a visiting friend today suggested that a renaming of the property to Wild Wings & Bitey Things might be appropriate as we await our official Crocodile warning sign! My mind immediately thought of the Faulty Towers television series and the fun we could have with an easily altered sign.

2 responses to “Winter Update

  1. Hi Barb.

    Thank you for the regular update on Wild Wings and Swampy Things! Always great reading and so much is constantly happening in your beautiful environment.

    I remember photographing Magpie Geese in treetops on your property when we visited in August, 2018. Photo taken 2nd august, 2018.

    We travelled to Murray Sunset Conservation Park early this year and I was overjoyed to photograph the Striated Grasswren and Red-lored Whistler. I underwent some surgery recently so have been taking it easy ..but getting back on track recently travelling to Corny Point, Southern Yorke Peninsula (where our shack is on the beachfront). We know most of the farmers in the area. One of the local farmers told us a story that many years ago his Grandfather (farmer) decided to fence off acres of Mallee shrubland to protect habitat. This was back when so much land was being cleared for farming and for someone to make that decision, in that era, (especially a farmer) was unique. It is a beautiful sight to see.

    The farmer I am speaking of took us on to this precious land recently and showed us a lone eucalpyt with a massive Wedgetail Eagle nest. As we observed it from quite a distance the magnificent Wedgetail Eagle flew overhead being chased by crows. I am sworn to secrecy as to the location which I fully respect. I am very grateful he has allowed us to walk on his land to photograph wildlife.

    My book “Birds of Corny Point”, (which I think we gave you the hardcover).. I was asked by the local Corny Point Progress Association if I would like to produce my book as a soft cover to make people aware of the wonderful wildlife in the area and to promote local business on Lower Southern Yorke Peninsula. They donated some money towards printing. So I “bit the bullet” and laid out the money to have it printed. I put the book together originally for my own benefit but when locals/friends saw it they asked me for copies….. so that is how it all came about. To my delight the book sold out in 3 months which covered all the printing costs plus a small profit.. But it was not about profit and I am happy that people are being made aware of the beauty of the area.

    Look forward to your future posts !

    Cheers, Kay Spry

  2. Good to hear from you Kay and thank you for your kind comments. That’s wonderful news about your book! We were hoping to get over to Corny Point later this year but realized that we were trying to go too far in a limited time. We will get back to SA one day and we’ll certainly try to catch up with you then.
    kind regards

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