Monday, August 9, 2010

Twitching Mute Swan in Northam

Well, when you find yourself standing there in the middle of Northam at the Avon River with the camera drawn and little G. running around with binoculars it is very very hard not to admit that you are actually on a proper twitch. I am not talking about a muscles uncontrollable contraction and relaxation, but rather about the journey a keen birdwatchers initiate to see a specific (rare) bird - a twitch.

That specific bird in Northam is the Mute Swan. It is the only place in Australia were you can be sure to see this species breeding in a "wild" environment. Mute (or White) Swans were brought to WA in 1896 by the British, probably to ease some severe cases of homesickness .. A Russian settler and the Major of Northam decided that Northam, with the Avon river going through would be perfect for the swans and the swans agreed - somehow the Mute Swan never really established a proper foothold anywhere in Australia and the imported animals died without giving giving life to new offspring, except for Northam where today a thriving group of ca. 80 individuals patrol the waters.

Quite funny to see a road sign giving direction to where the bird you are after resides :-D No doubt that the swans are a very popular inhabitants and that they are well looked after - in a wild way ;-)

Having once again fulfilled our goals during the very first few minuets at the location, we easily had time for a stroll along the Avon River and a walk across the suspension bridge. It is a beautiful quiet area up there ca. 100km inland and my guess is that Northam sports some seriously hot summer days. We were there end of April more specifically on ANZAC day and lets just say that it was toasty! - Sorry for being terribly behind with this blog, but I am trying!

All good, I managed to catch a few flying object with the camera; some metallic ones in honor of ANZAC day and a more conventional feathered Yellow-billed Spoonbill. Half the day was gone and the next target should prove to be a lot harder - we were heading for Rufous Treecreeper habitat.


Aleisha and Simon Iremonger said...

Great posts Allan, you must be gaining on Iain pretty quickly!

Iain said...

Way ahead of me by now! Especially as I just signed up for a ridiculous twitch to Alice Springs to get the Princess Parrots only for the scumbag with the 4x4 to change his mind after I'd bought plane tickets. : (

AGL said...

I actually got birded out a bit after the frantic last months before going to Denmark. I only managed to get my lazy carcass out birding once after coming back to Australia - and I have to give jarrod credit for that. Guess it becomes harder to overcome the activation barrier when the chance of a new one becomes slimmer.
A sneaky escape to Alice sounds exciting Iain - find another 4x4 or team up with some birders from your mailing list - Alice must be birding central :-) Good to hear from you, you are back in Sydney now?

Cheers Allan

Jarrod said...

Why do you need a 4wd Iain, the magna will do that trip easily.

AGL said...

Hi Jarrod, you are touching a sensitive subject there: The Magna is sick! :-( It started with a bit of battery trouble, but has now developed into a major operation - I am getting a new starter motor + some extras. Last weekend I could not get anywhere because I did not know if I would be able to start the mighty again. However, it should be ready for new adventures before this coming weekend :-)

Cheers Allan