When I did the post on the Stratford Highway Park I neglected to include a photo of the water body, so I’ll rectify that omission now.
During a few hours spent in Sale recently I checked out Lake Guyatt and part of the Sale Common. At the Common, a Darter drying its wings on the snag below the bird hide gave a photo opportunity, and at Guyatt a landing pelican gave me a sequence of shots.
On our way to do the Marlay Point bird surveys, Martin and I made the customary stop beside a low-lying paddock that after rain becomes a wetland that can hold large numbers of water birds, and it was so on this occasion. Swans, Black-winged Stilts, many hundreds of teal, but best of all probably four to five hundred Sharp-tailed Sandpipers. They were spread out along a long stretch of the far shoreline, then, as if at a signal, took off to join together in a big wheeling flock, surely the most spectacular way to view these long distance fliers. A few that remained on the near shore allowed a photo from outside the boundary fence.
Two highlights of the survey on the property adjacent to the lake were first, a flock about ten pelicans herding fish in front of them and then dipping their bills in unison; and second, a magnificent pair of adult White-bellied Sea Eagles displaying their consummate aerial abilities in the stiff breeze, sometimes soaring and hanging in the wind with only small adjustments of wings and tails to maintain equilibrium. I was travelling light at this stage with just the binoculars, so words alone have to tell the tale.
Click to enlarge
Over two years had gone by since I last visited the Stratford Highway Park, on that occasion the storage dam was reduced to a small pool, birds were very quiet, and I subsequently visited other locations that had more to offer. However, it was time for another look, and when I started the walk in it was to the swelling sound of the cicada orchestra with obbligatos from Rufous Whistler, Olive-backed Oriole, White-throated Treecreeper, Yellow-faced Honeyeater and Spotted and Striated Pardalote. When Martin, Gouldiae and I were surveying Seamist Park on a cool day recently, we remarked on the lack of insect activity on the heavily flowering Burgan. It was a different story on this hot day with the white flowers attracting hordes of small beetles, and three species of butterfly, Common Brown, Australian Admiral and Australian Painted Lady.
The Highway Park has a lot of nice cherry ballart trees, Exocarpos cupressiformis, and when driving past a few days ago I’d noticed a cockatoo in one enjoying a sweet treat.
Thanks to the heavy rain in June the dam is now at capacity, with many water plants regenerating after a long dry spell. Odonata too are laying the foundation for a resurgence in populations with at least five species of damsel and dragonfly ovipositing. I noticed Eastern Billabongfly, Wandering Ringtail, and Common Bluetail damsels, and Blue Skimmer and Blue-spotted Hawker dragons.
The Common Bluetail eluded the camera as did the mature male skimmer, the one I photographed is showing the first traces of the blue pruinescence that gives the species its name.
The hawker can be hard to photograph, spending most of its time on the wing, but on the walk out I caught one having a rest.
The park is looking good again, well worth the visit.
Click to enlarge.