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5 spots to birdwatch at Adelaide’s bird sanctuary

Get twitching at Adelaide’s International Bird Sanctuary. Here’s five top birdwatching spots for you to try.

Adelaide’s International Bird Sanctuary has it all – migratory, resident, bush, shore and water birds. During South Australia’s warmer months it’s the prime time to visit to see them in the thousands.

But remember, be a responsible birdwatcher – the birds’ welfare must come first. So look after their habitat, keep your distance and respect other birdwatchers.

We’ve sussed out five top spots to birdwatch at Adelaide’s International Bird Sanctuary, here’s where:

1. Magazine Road Wetlands

A 25-minute drive from Adelaide on the northern side of the Salisbury Highway/Port River Expressway sits the Magazine Road Wetlands.

Here you can spot the wood sandpiper, red-necked stint, sharp-tailed sandpiper, red-capped plover, black-winged stilt and maybe even a rare long-toed stint, plus waterbirds such as ducks, spoonbills and ibises.

If you’re really lucky you might see the elusive Australian spotted crake or Australasian bittern.


2. Whites Road Wetland

This freshwater wetland can be accessed via Whites Road off Globe Derby Drive.

It’s part of the paved cycling/walking trail running from west of the freshwater wetlands, along the Dry Creek channel through to Port Wakefield Road.

This site is full of ducks and native fowl, as well as some resident shorebirds like the red-kneed dotterel and black-fronted dotterel. You might even spot an Australian painted snipe.

Australian painted snipe
Australian painted snipe

3. St Kilda foreshore

Visit the bird sanctuary's Southern Gateway at the St Kilda foreshore to see large numbers of banded and black-winged stilts, especially in the bay and saltponds lining the main road into St Kilda.

Large numbers of red-necked stints and red-capped plovers like to feed on the tidal mudflats as the tide recedes. St Kilda bay is also a great place to see black swans in the hundreds.

The St Kilda Mangrove Trail has interesting waterbirds such as the royal spoonbill, Australian white ibis and great cormorant roosting in or near the mangroves. The trail has a raised viewing platform that provides great views looking over Barker Inlet.

Note: access to the trail is kept locked. A key is available to the public from the Tucker and Tackle shop near the St Kilda boat ramp.


4. Port Gawler

Port Gawler offers the chance to see small numbers of shorebirds like the sharp-tailed sandpiper, common greenshank and black-winged stilt along the tidal channel and saltponds adjoining Port Gawler Road.

In the shrubs and mangroves along the road edge you’ll see fairy-wrens, white-browed scrubwrens  and red-kneed dotterel, as well as other bush birds in the mangrove forest and coastal shrub lands.


5. Thompson Beach

An hour from Adelaide’s CBD is the Thompson Beach coastline and tidal flats, which are well worth the drive. The site is known by locals as the best natural shorebird site within the bird sanctuary area.

With an incredible diversity of shorebirds, you are sure to see a ruddy turnstone, grey plover, red-necked stint, sharp-tailed sandpiper, curlew sandpiper, bar-tailed godwit, red knot, great knot and maybe even the critically endangered migratory eastern curlew.

Thompson Beach is also a great spot to see resident shorebirds like the red-capped plover or the Australian pied oystercatcher.

Hot tip: The early bird catches the worm. Shorebirds are best seen just after high tide in the morning.


Feel free to share your pics with us in the comments section below.

Main image: Red knot shorebirds (image courtesy of Chris Purnell)

This story was originally posted in November 2017


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