Monday, May 14, 2012

Follow that Bird through the Coorong

Last weekend I lead a tour group through the Coorong for Follow That Bird who were visiting from the Eastern states.

the Coorong is separated from the Southern Ocean by a peninsula of sand dunes. It is approximately hundred kilometres of salt water lagoons which are of international significance. Sadly this vital habitat is in serious danger due to the lack of water flow being released in river Murray from upstream. The lack of flow reaching the Murray Mouth and lower lakes is having a significant impact on the bird life, especially the migratory waders.

Our group explored various locations between Meningie and Salt Creek. Apart from the birding we also enjoyed a meal of Coorong Mullet and damper with Muntries jam at the Wilderness Lodge.

It was also a privilege to be able to spend more time with Uncle Tom, an Aboriginal Elder, learning about the Ngarrindjeri, an Aboriginal nation of 18 language groups who inhabit the Lower Murray & Coorong. They are the descendants of Ngurunderi, one of the main ancestors of the Dreaming, and their totem is the Australian Pelican. Therefore they take protecting the Pelican and their other totems very seriously, hence their passion to protect the Coorong.

Halite Lake at Salt Creek

The samphire vegetation is beautiful and we enjoyed exploring the various plants.

The birds of the Coorong never fail to deliver. Some highlights included nesting pelicans, thousands of Little Black Cormorants, Great Crested & hoary-headed Grebe, Grey Currawong, Peaceful Dove, White-fronted Chats, Barn Owl, White-browed Babbler, Southern Emu-wren, Beautiful Firetail, Purple-gaped Honeyeater,  Scarlet Robin, Brown Goshawk and Australian Hobby.

While birding at Salt Creek a flock of over 200 Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo flew overhead. A magnificent sight!

21 Hooded Plover were seen on a salt lake which was magnificent!

The Coorong is a very special place which really needs to be protected.  If you also care about it, please write to the Minister for Environment and voice your concerns about the lack of water being allocated to reach the Murray Mouth and Lower Lakes!