Thursday, 9 July 2015

Macquarie Marshes

We were tempted to linger longer at Lake Cargelligo because when we parked near the town on the lake's shore for lunch the brilliant sky was mirrored in the still water and the pelicans, cormorants and, surprisingly, a single Black-winged Stilt, were parading backwards and forwards for our entertainment.

There is a campsite on the north side of the lake near the weir that we may stay at another time. Through the binoculars I could see hundreds of pelicans on that side of the lake. But we decided to head further north.

Lake Cargelligo
So we moved on to the Macquarie. I must make a note to tell someone in authority that the Macquarie River is flowing the wrong way - it should be flowing south instead of north. After all, its water runs out to sea near Goolwa in South Australia!

Fairy Martin nests high on a water tower at Warren.
We met the river at Warren (where I noticed that Fairy Martins had taken advantage of an overhang high on the water tower and built their bottle-shaped nests in a closely-packed community) then drove north for about 100 km to the Macquarie Marshes Nature Reserve and booked in at the famous Willie Retreat near the Macquarie River. We've only had time to explore a small section of the area along Gibson Road but I can see why birds are attracted to the area now that there is a management plan in place to ensure water in the marshes instead of being diverted to cotton farms. It's actually much more diverse than I had realised because as well as the marshes and flats there are sandy woodlands.

My bird list isn't very long because a) it's not the optimum time to visit, b) I'm a lazy birdwatcher and only started seriously looking this afternoon, c) I don't own a telescope and d) I got distracted by several interesting birds and time flew by.

The birds I spent most time with were the half-dozen delightful Jacky Winters in the woodland, the Mulga Parrots and the dozen Black-faced Woodswallows plying for insects along a section of fence beside the road.

Black-faced Woodswallow, Macquarie Marshes
It would be wonderful to spend some serious time here in spring. Not in summer though. Myra, owner of Willie Retreat, told me that in one long hot spell last summer, when the temperature was in the high forties or more, she nearly dehydrated herself by going out around her house paddock with a basket to collect the birds that had fallen out of trees and taking them home to restore them to health,

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