Glorious Gluepot

 Apostlebird at Gluepot

 

Gluepot Reserve is not only a bird-loving mallee paradise in an area devastated by overgrazing and over-clearing, it is also a testament to community spirit and determination.

Back in 1996, it was part of a sheep station and the owner had applied for approval to burn areas of the extensive mallee to increase fodder for his sheep.

When a hawk-eyed BirdLife Australia volunteer reported sighting Black-eared Miners (endangered) in the region, further surveys confirmed the presence of not only Black-eared Miners, but also Malleefowl and a robust populations of four other nationally threatened birds. A decision was consequently made by BirdLife Australia to buy the 54,390 ha (134,000 acres) property measuring 37 x 14 km, but where to get the money?

BirdLife Australia started it's campaign and and in just ten weeks, over 2,400 people and organisations raised the $360,000 needed to buy it! How fantastic is that? 

Today, Gluepot is Australia’s largest community managed and operated conservation reserve. It has been described by George Negus, one of Australia's highest regarded investigative journalists, as "one of the conservation miracles of the 21st century.”

It is home to 22 nationally threatened species of birds ( and 53 species of reptiles and 12 species of bats) and as if that was not enough to tickle a bird photographer's fancy, it also has 5 bird hides!  So yes, instead of traipsing through the hot, dense mallee country getting spiked by spinifex grass, you can sit back on a bench, coffee in hand and watch the birds come to you (or to be more precise, the bird bath).

I visited there in August 2018 and had the pleasure of being given a personal tour of the facilities by one of the volunteer rangers. I can't say enough good things about the management of this reserve... and I could go on forever talking about it (camping, walk trails, environmental education courses, research and monitoring... ) but as the main purpose of this article is bird photography, I will do no more than urge you to check out their website for more information: https://gluepot.org/introduction.

Where the Bl**dy Hell is it?

Good question. A long, long way away is the short answer. 

 

Australia Map with Gluepot marked

 Gluepot Reserve location map

 

When did I go and how did I get there?

As we travel with a dog, we were not able to camp in Gluepot Reserve so we stayed in the nearest town, Waikerie, which is about 50kms away. For two consecutive mornings in late August 2018 I got up an hour and a half before sunrise and drove to Gluepot so that I was there as close to sunrise as possible. 

To access the reserve you need to drive through private farmland, with cows, which is very exciting in the dark (in other words,  drive slowly and carefully and don't forget to close the gates!).

Here is a map provided by Gluepot showing the route to take from Waikerie (Note: allow around 20 minutes for the ferry crossing. It runs 24 hours/7 days).

 

Map to Gluepot from Waikerie

 

I spent the evenings photographing around Waikerie which has a lookout with high cliffs over the Murray River providing an excellent spot from which to try and photograph birds from above (see photo of Magpie-lark below). Waikerie also, for the record, has an excellent dog-friendly caravan park. 

Magpie Lark flying from above

Magpie-lark (Waikerie lookout, South Australia): Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, Canon F/4 600mm IS 1.4x teleconverter, F5.6, 1/1600, ISO800. 

What did I do there?

Once I arrived at the reserve, I drove directly to one of the five bird hides and spent around an hour or so before moving on to the next. At around 11am, when the light was too harsh, I headed back to Waikerie.

The trick with bird hides is to have patience, because you can start to get bored verrrrrrrrry quickly!  For instance, the Striped Honeyeater, below, did not arrive until I had been there at least an hour.  The Brown-headed Honeyeaters, on the other hand, arrived very quickly on the first day and then not at all on the second morning (although I was at a different bird hide).

The Photos

The advantage of bird hides, of course, is that when a bird does come in to drink,  you have an excellent chance of getting a cracking ID shot (ie clear, sharp and, often, deathly boring).  

 Striped Honeyeater

Striped Honeyeater (Gluepot Reserve, South Australia): Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, Canon F/4 600mm IS USM Lens II + 2x teleconverter, F8, 1/1250, ISO800. 


Mulga Parrot at Gluepot Reserve

Mulga Parrot (Gluepot Reserve, South Australia): Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, Canon F/4 600mm IS USM Lens II, F5, 1/800, ISO400. 

  Mulga parrot at Gluepot

Mulga Parrot (Gluepot Reserve, South Australia): Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, Canon F/4 600mm IS USM Lens II, F5, 1/1250, ISO400. 

   Jacky Winter at Gluepot

Jacky Winter (Gluepot Reserve, South Australia): Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, Canon F/4 600mm IS USM Lens II, F5, 1/2500, ISO500. 


Yellow-throated Miner

Yellow-throated Miner (possibly hybrid Black-eared Miner) (Gluepot Reserve, South Australia): Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, Canon F/4 600mm IS USM Lens II + 2x Teleconverter, F8, 1/2000, ISO1000. 

  Honeyeater

Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater (Gluepot Reserve, South Australia): Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, Canon F/4 600mm IS USM Lens II, F5.6, 1/2000, ISO400. 


Brown-headed Honeyeater

Brown-headed Honeyeater (Gluepot Reserve, South Australia): Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, Canon F/4 600mm IS USM Lens II, F5.6, 1/2000, ISO640. 


Yellow-plumed Honeyeater

Yellow-plumed Honeyeater (Gluepot Reserve, South Australia): Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, Canon F/4 600mm IS USM Lens II + 2x Teleconverter, F8, 1/1600, ISO640. 


White-eared Honeyeater

White-eared Honeyeater (Gluepot Reserve, South Australia): Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, Canon F/4 600mm IS USM Lens II + 1.4x Teleconverter, F5.6, 1/1250, ISO400. 


Female Mulga Parrot

Mulga Parrot (Female, Gluepot Reserve, South Australia): Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, Canon F/4 600mm IS USM Lens II, F5, 1/800, ISO400. 

 Yellow-plumed Honeyeater

Yellow-plumed Honeyeater (Gluepot Reserve, South Australia): Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, Canon F/4 600mm IS USM Lens II + 1.4x Teleconverter, F5.6, 1/2500, ISO640. 


Yellow-plumed Honeyeater

Yellow-plumed Honeyeater (Gluepot Reserve, South Australia): Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, Canon F/4 600mm IS USM Lens II + 2x Teleconverter, F8, 1/2000, ISO1000. 

 

Mallee Ringneck

Mallee Ringneck (Gluepot Reserve, South Australia): Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, Canon F/4 600mm IS USM Lens II, F5, 1/1250, ISO400. 

 

Mallee Ringneck

Mallee Ringneck (Gluepot Reserve, South Australia): Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, Canon F/4 600mm IS USM Lens II, F7.1, 1/800, ISO400. 


Apostlebird in tree

Apostlebird (Gluepot Reserve, South Australia): Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, Canon F/4 600mm IS USM Lens II, F4, 1/3200, ISO800. 


Red Wattlebird

Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater (Gluepot Reserve, South Australia): Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, Canon F/4 600mm IS USM Lens II, F4, 1/2500, ISO800. 


dragon at gluepot

Mallee Military Dragon (Gluepot Reserve, South Australia): Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, Canon F/2.8 100mm, F6.3, 1/1250, ISO320. 


Flowers at Gluepot

 

Did you find this article helpful? Is there anything else you'd like to know about bird photography? If so, please be sure to leave a comment.
I would really love to hear from you!
 

5 comments

  • Fantastic article and pics Georgina. I had never heard of this reserve or its origins.

    Keith James
  • Great post. Thanks Georgina – especially the camera etc settings. I hope to visit Gluepot in April.

    Deanne
  • Fascinating storey and excellent outcome.
    Lovely to read theses success stories.
    You have captured so beautifully the beautiful birds, wildlife.
    Appreciate your posting.
    Keep up the excellent work.

    Richard
  • Hi Georgina, Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful photography and settings. Excellent information on how to get there etc. On my bucket list, fingers crossed we will make it this year. Look forward to reading more of your stories, thanks again. :)

    Kim Duggan
  • Thank you for such an imformative email and sharing your settings experience I farelly enjoyed reading every words and photos .I must say i was looking forward to your email .So a big thank you.

    Anita

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