Gluepot Reserve has had most of the dams that were constructed to water the stock when Gluepot was a farming property filled in to restore it more or less back to it's natural waterless environment. Except that water is available at the bird hides where water troughs set high up off the ground provide water for the birds and not for kangaroos or goats and provide close-up views of the birds drinking and bathing... but you know all this anyway.
Gluepot Visitors Centre and service buildings. Gluepot is about an hour and a half north of Waikerie in South Australia's Riverland. After crossing the River Murray on the free ferry and wandering about a bit the road heads north along a well graded sandy track through mallee forest, some of which is recovering from bush fires a few years ago.
On a visit last week (September 2014) the most common birds drinking at all the hides were Yellow-plumed and Brown-headed Honeyeaters. Yellow-plumed Flibbertegibbets have ants-in-their-pants; never pausing for a second from looking about, hopping from branch to branch, flying, drinking, bathing, shuffling, scratching, twitching, wriggling and generally being kinesthetic enough to rattle your eyeballs just watching them. Brown-headed are much more chilled out.
At Gluepot and everywhere you'll see lots of these... a classic mallee tree. A riot of branches spreading out from an underground "trunk" into a umbrella shaped canopy. It is usually surrounded by a carpet of dead leaves and branches and if you are lucky a Chestnut Quail-thrush or two...
The Monday I arrived was hot... for a spring day... with a northerly wind that gradually grew strong enough to blow the feathers off a rooster. After signing in at the visitors centre and paying my camping fees I pitched my tent in the Babbler campsit and then headed further east to the Long Dam to watch the sun go down and some mutli-coloured goats forage about. A cat slunk off...
I got back to the camp in the dark where my tent was doing an impression of a rap-dancer or is it a rapt-dancer... gyrating about as the gusts of wind blasted through the tree tops .. anyway, by midnight and under the light of a full moon the wind had died away to nothing and so it was when the sun rose the next morning.
Yellow-plumed Honeyeater... a delightfully active honeyeater was a frequent visitor to the bird watering troughs at Gluepot. It has a low sloping forehead, streaked chest and underparts and it's bright yellow plumes stick out proud of it's back.
In the morning I set-off along the Whistler Walk through Casuarina forest, then Mallee and finally over a sandhill to reach the Whistler Bird Hide now called the John Martin Hide. Our two species of Honeyeaters were busy along with Spiny-cheeked, White-fronted (should be Black-fronted) Honeyeaters and Red Wattlebirds. A male Splendid Fairy-wren in its irridescent splendor was foraging along the path to the hide.
It's hard to believe how strikingingly irridescent a Splendid Fairy-wren actually is until you see the male in its splendor in the bush in the morning light. This one was outside the Whistler Hide.
After lunch I nodded off under a tree beside the Grasswren Hide followed by a few hours in the hide. You guessed it... cousins of my two honeyeater buddies were there too along with Spiny-cheeked Honeyeaters, Australian Raven, Weebill, Red-capped Robin, Chestnut-rumped Thornbill and Southern Whiteface.
The other honeyeater that was a common visitor to the bird water points were Brown-headed Honeyeaters like this one showing off his brown head, yellow eye ring and legs and a white collar. These are a much more chilled out species the the Yellow-plumed which are manic. Brown-heads have a much more upright forehead.
The track from the Grasswren Hide goes east past Picnic Dam to Froggy Hide which is hidden in a dense patch of casuarinas and... take a shot in the dark at what was jumping about with the fidgets. At each hide I checked out the sheets that previous observers had made and guess which two species were more or less the only ones drinking at the hides... anyway the winds had been increasing all day and while I was waiting in the Froggy Hide for something other than a honeyeater to arrive a great roaring and commotion began outside... fast approaching from the west was a band of dark clouds and gusts of winds were once again tearing the tree tops into a frenzy. At this stage I figured out that bird watching was over for the day so headed for the Babbler Camp and my wigwam.
Everything else scattered when this Australian Raven came in for a drink. Massive bill, protruding hackles and a deep throated call of this meancing bird. Here it is perched on the water trough.
My tent was doing an impression of the samba, electric boogaloo and break dancing all at the same time. I went to bed... midnight... calm, clear, bright moon... as Harry Potter said "All was well..." maybe I had been dreaming.
Anyway, the next morning I headed further east to Gluepot Dams where there is a large open area of grasses and shrubs and some standing water in the low lying areas. Maned Ducks and Grey Teals where resting beside the water. At the bird hide not even a honeyeater! The aroma on frying bacon drifted around while I cooked my breakfast, boiled the billy and sat down in the warm morning sun and watched the birds.
The Gluepot Dams is an open area with some low lying land that has standing water from time to time. These Maned Ducks were foraging beside the remaining water.
Some sort of a dragon lizard thing sunning on the post of a road sign. This could even be a Central Bearded Dragon but as there is over 6,000 species of them worldwide... who knows! Lizards have very good colour vision, powerful legs and long tails.
A list of the species seen and their locations as follows:
1. Brown-headed Honeyeater; Emu Hide, Whistler Walk and Hide, Grasswren Hide, Froggy Hide
2. Yellow-plumed Honeyeater; Emu Hide, Whistler Walk and Hide, Grasswren Hide, Froggy Hide
3. Australian Raven; Emu Hide, Long Dam, Whistler Walk and Hide, Grasswren Hide, Gluepot Dam
4. White-winged Triller; Long Dam
5. Spiney-cheeked Honeyeater; Long Dam, Whistler Walk and Hide, Grasswren Hide, Picnic Dam, Gluepot Dam
6. Willie Wagtail; Long Dam, Picnic Dam, Gluepot Dam
7. White-fronted Honeyeater; Long Dam, Whistler Walk and Hide, Picnic Dam
8. Chestnut-crowned Babbler; Long Dam
9. Southern Whiteface; Long Dam, Grasswren Hide
10. Chestnut-rumped Thornbill; Long Dam, Grasswren Hide
11. Red Wattlebird; Whistler Walk and Hide, Gluepot Dam
12. Splendid Fairy-wren; Whistler Walk and Hide, Picnic Dam
13. Emu; Whistler Walk and Hide, Gluepot Dam
14. Collared Sparrowhawk; Whistler Walk and Hide
15. Grey Shrike-thrush; Whistler Walk and Hide, Picnic Dam
16 Grey Butcherbird; Eastern boundary road
17. Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike; Eastern boundary road
18. Weebill; Grasswren Hide
19. Red-capped Robin; Grasswren Hide
20. Australian Ringneck; Picnic Dam, Gluepot Dam
21. Australian Magpie; Picnic Dam, Gluepot Dam
22. Yellow-throated Miner; Picnic Dam
23. Little Eagle; Picnic Dam
24. Grey Teal; Gluepot Dam
25. Maned Duck; Gluepot Dam
26. Masked Lapwing; Gluepot Dam
27. Blacked-fronted Dotterel; Gluepot Dam
28. Nankeen Kestrel; Gluepot Dam
29. Galah; Gluepot Dam
30. Red-kneed Dotterel; Gluepot Dam
31. Brown Treecreeper; Gluepot Dam
32. Mulga Parrot; Gluepot Dam