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South Australia Bird WatchingAuthor: Carl from Pahrump (More Trip Reviews by Carl from Pahrump)
Date of Trip: February 2007
On Feb 27 we got to Port Lincoln NP (34.882S 135.867E) at 8am. This is one of the parks where you are supposed to pay $7 to get into - it's an honor system.
You would think by charging money to get in the roads would be good and they would have bathrooms, but you would be wrong. However, we pretty much had the place to ourselves. In 5 hours we passed 5 vehicles. The park is covered in native Mulga trees and small shrubs, and very dry. After a long and bumpy drive we stopped along the coast for a change of scenery. We could see a sailing regatta in the distance.
We saw a Red Wattlebird by the coast, then a small flock. Pretty soon waves of Red Wattlebirds were flying over. They kept on coming for 2 hours -- hundreds of them. We never saw them flock like this before.
There were heaps of small birds in the heath. We spotted a Western Yellow Robin. We saw Spotted Scrubwrens and Blue-backed Fairwrens all day. We also saw some Gray Currawongs. Back in Port Lincoln, I had a steak topped with mushroom ragout, red onion jam, and a sprinkling of baked sweet potato shavings. It came with baked potato wedges and salad. My wife had Snapper lightly coated with Dukkah topping sauteed green beans and cherry tomatoes served in a citrus dressing, and salad.
On Feb 28 we were off at dawn for Coffin Bay NP (34.661S 135.349E ) - 3Km from our apartment. We soon discovered it was foggy out.
Our first stop was to pay the entrance fee. They have paved roads here and bathrooms, so you think you are getting something for your $7. Most of the park is covered with Mulga; i.e., a dense growth of low shrubs. The birding was pretty ordinary. We could hear the ocean roaring 5Km away.
We drove out to the sand dunes. A short-steep walk up and down the dunes brought us to the beach. We had about 100 yards of visibility because of the fog. It was cool and breezy, so we spent the morning beach combing for shells and glass.
The sun burned thru the fog bank at 10am. We drove around to other beaches and lookouts. We saw waterfalls in the ocean as the tide ran between the main land and an offshore island. On one beach there was a large flock of Crested Terns and a small flock of Fairy Terns.
We ate lunch at the only restaurant in town. We ordered Lobster Theodore and salad. Beautiful!! Most of the Lobster caught here goes to Japan. Restaurants don't usually have it on the menu. We order it wherever we can.
At 5:30pm we went for a walk on the Oyster Trail (34.617S 135.478E ) along Coffin Bay. We saw lots of Gazanias that had been chopped off by weed eaters. The birding tonight was marvelous. In one stretch we saw a Chestnut-rumped Heathwren and a Southern Scrub-Robin. We heard a Mallee Whipbird. We also saw an Australian Ringneck Parrot with a red spot on the forehead, which means it is the species from SE WA.
On March 1 we were off at 7:20am heading west along the south coast. This area has many dry salt lakes -- they look like frozen lakes. One lake has some water, but no water birds, till a hundred Cape Barren Geese flew in.
We parallel the coast, but rarely saw the ocean. We took a side trip to Cummins Outlook (34.431S 135.373E) to see the jagged coast. It seems like the South Ocean is slowly dissolving the south side of Australia.
Later in the morning we stopped at Sheringa Beach (33.875S 135.164E). This area attracts surfers -- lots of them. The waves rolling across the blue ocean was beautiful. We found some shore birds here. On the way out we saw a pod of Porpoises swimming along the bay.
It got hot in the afternoon. We stopped at a beach, but the smell of seaweed was too strong to stay. We arrived in Streaky Bay at 3pm.
About 6pm we left to eat at Mocens in Streaky Bay by the Jetty. We started with Abalone and Cockle Chowder with Garlic Bread. My wife had King George Whiting strips with chips and salad. I had a rib eye with muscles and veggies. Beautiful!
By some quirk of geometry, the jetty here points north, even though it is on the south coast of Australia. I would swear the sunset in the east tonight.
On March 2 Jam tasting was at 7:30am. We had Ailys' home made Quandong Jam. Quandong is the native Peach Tree. It is illegal for anyone but Aborigines to harvest Quandong fruit, but somehow the fruit that falls on the local golf course ends up at Ailys' house. Quandong Jam looks like Strawberry Jam, but had a Raspberry flavor. Beautiful!
About 11am we detoured off the road to Lake MacDonnald (32.045S 132.997E). The lake has a very high salt content, and parts of it looks like it is frozen with chunks of ice floating around. All this on a day when the temp was 102F. We saw five species of shore birds at the lake including the Curlew Sandpiper.
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