Coorong National Park

Australian Pelicans (Dominic Couzens)

Australian Pelicans, Coorong National Park, South Australia (Dominic Couzens)

Coorong National Park is a place of big skies and big birds. The salty, shallow waterways play host to large numbers of pelicans, spoonbills, terns and all of Australia’s five species of cormorants. Our first appointment in South Australia was a boat cruise here which, it so happened, started in big rain. It soon cleared to reveal such delights as the Black-faced Cormorant, only found in southern Australia, plus a fine colony of Crested Terns (below), alongside which were a good variety of waders including Red-capped Plovers, Red-necked Stints, Sharp-tailed Sandpipers and

Crested Terns (Dominic Couzens)

Pacific Golden Plovers. We also saw a deliciously out of context Sanderling which confused everybody. The area holds the only outlet of the mighty Murray River, where it runs into the Southern Ocean. The salty habitat attracted an eclectic mix of birds, from Red-necked Avocets to White-bellied Sea Eagles. And much as it was exciting to examine the watery areas, a nearby dune system covered with salt-resistant vegetation held a rarity in the form of a Rufous Bristlebird, member of a somewhat obscure group of sweet-voiced and very skulking birds – it so happens that I have now seen all three of the world’ species.  There was also quite a reasonable population here of that Australian icon, the Emu. We saw males with chicks – in this species it’s the male that looks after the young.

New Zealand Fur Seals (Dominic Couzens)

New Zealand Fur Seals, Coorong National Park, October 2012 (Dominic Couzens)

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