Scott Creek Wildlife and History

27 Oct

Dear Reader:

The old cottage has stood sentinel by the Scott Creek Road from the late 1830s. Despite some graffiti, scourge of a modern era, it bears witness to bygone days of hardship and toil. Today a pair of magpies is foraging amongst the overgrown garden and swallows are nesting in the stonework.

Old cottage with lilies in foreground

 The Scott Creek Conservation Park is just 30 kms from Adelaide: a lovely drive along winding hills roads surrounded by scrub and rural properties. It is a haven for a vast number of animals including grey kangaroos, koalas, numerous reptiles and around 150 bird species and that is without considering the insects and spiders. More than enough to delight any photographer. Add an old mine site to this biological diversity and you have the perfect place for a day’s outing exploring some classic South Aussie bushland with a little history thrown in.

Walking trail and bushland

The creek passes under an old bridge. It is overgrown with reeds and bushes with just a trickle of water visible from the banks. Superb blue wrens are darting around in the undergrowth, the males in bright mating plumage are displaying to the duller coloured females. I walk along a fallen tree that spans the creek to get a better vantage point. From my perch I spot an eastern water skink basking on a long dead branch. The little reptile is waiting to pounce on insects, spiders and even smaller lizards.

Eastern water skink

A gravel and dirt path leads up to an old copper and silver mining site. Interpretive signs make for interesting reading about our state’s early mining history and an old abandoned plough adds a certain agricultural touch to the walk.

Old machinery

Numerous parrot species are common throughout the park and a pair of rainbow lorikeets watches me as I walk beneath the massive red gum they are using as a perch. High above I notice the unmistakable slow wing beat of yellow tailed black cockatoos. And the characteristic chiming call of Adelaide rosellas accompanies me while I stroll around the mine site looking for lizards and insects that might use the ruins as a home.

Rainbow lorikeets

 Before climbing into the car for the drive home I take one last look into the higher branches of the trees surrounding the creek. I am rewarded by solitary koala watching me intently from a fork in the trunk. A nice farewell from this lovely patch of South Australian bushland.

Koala climbing

Cheers

Baz

Additional notes

This is an easy drive which is quite suitable for families and seniors.

 I have recently spent time in Africa and the link below will allow you to enjoy images and text describing some of my encounters with the wonderful wildlife of Botswana and Zambia. I will attach a new image and notes to accompany each post.

https://wildlifemomentssa.blogspot.com

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Hoseshoe Bay’s Coastal Wonders

1 Oct

Dear Reader:

The Soldiers Memorial Gardens overlooks Horseshoe Bay; one of the most picturesque locations on the Fleurieu Peninsula. Well kept lawns are surrounded by flower beds and fronted by massive Norfolk Island Pines that attract a wide variety of wildlife.

 

View of Bay from gardens

 

Today the grassed areas have just been mown and two beautiful, red-rumped parrots are feeding on some seed heads that have been scattered by the mower. Male birds are more colourful than the females with brighter plumage and a red splash of colour on the lower back. The gardener seems to have also stirred up some insects which are being vigorously hawked by a lively little wagtail.

 

Red rumped parrot

 

Wagtail

Near the gardens a track runs along the coast towards the jetty and then along the face of boulder strewn cliffs. Several wattle birds are gathering nectar from coastal blooms of agapanthus and I can see both terns and silver gulls patrolling the wave break in search of prey.

 

Wattle bird feeding

 

Local jetty and cliffs

 

There are rocky outcrops at both ends of Horseshoe Bay and small islands in the mouth. These are home to a myriad of sea creatures. Sweep, drummer and zebra fish are just a few of the fish species that abound here. The rugged, algae dominated rocks also provide habitats for a wealth of invertebrates including: crayfish, crabs, sea snails, sponges and starfish…to name but a few.

 

Sea snail (gastropod) probably a pheasant shell species

 

From a high point on the coastal path I have a good view of the bay and I take some time to sit and eat a snack from the Local Port Elliot bakery. Behind me I can hear the call of singing honeyeaters and in front the gentle rushing sound of the incoming tide and surf on the rocks….. a fine way to finish my visit to Horshoe Bay.

 

Singing honeyeater

 

Coastal walk and view of islands in bay

 

 Cheers

Baz

 

Additional notes

This is an easy walk which is quite suitable for families and seniors with public toilets, food outlets and parking nearby.

 

 I have recently spent time in Africa and the link below will allow you to enjoy images and text describing some of my encounters with the wonderful wildlife of Botswana and Zambia. I will attach a new image and notes to accompany each post.

https://wildlifemomentssa.blogspot.com

The Murray Mouth

7 Sep

Dear Reader:

There is a magnificent pelican flying low over the estuary with thick scrub and hills in the background. It circles a few times then lands, with surprising grace for such a large bird, amongst a small group of pelicans. They comb the edge of the water hunting for schools of baitfish. The birds then circle their prey driving them into a small ball before scooping the hapless victims up in their flexible net-like bills.

 

Pelican in flight

 

The mouth of Australia’s largest river, the Murray, can be reached or viewed in several different ways. Taking a 4WD along Goolwa Beach is perhaps the most adventurous but sometimes requires some skilful off road manoeuvres in the wet sand and the tides must be taken into consideration. From Hindmarsh Island or the upper reaches of the Coorong it is an eaier boat ride from numerous launch points.  I have used both of these methods to photograph the wildlife of this wonderful location but on this occasion I am lucky enough (because of the kindness of an old friend) to fly over the area giving me a fresh perspective on this unique wilderness location.

 

Aerial view of Murray Mouth

 

After leaving the plane at a nearby property we clamber into an old landcruiser and make our way along the beach towards the mouth. Parking the vehicle tight against the sandhills away from the incoming tide we trek across sand hills into the scrub that divides the ocean from the river. There are numerous small birds in the thickets and I manage to photograph a singing honeyeater perched on a slender twig as it loudly proclaims its territory.

 

Singing honeyeater

 

Back on the beach we drive close to the wave-break watching flocks of plovers scouring the wet sand for worms, molluscs and other tiny invertebrates. They take flight as we approach then quickly settle back into their feeding patterns dodging between the gentle waves as the tide changes.

 

Plover panic

 

I spend a pleasant half hour fishing the river where it empties into the sea and manage to put a few salmon trout into the cooler before driving back to the car park in Goolwa. The little cafe is worth a quick stop for a sausage roll and an ice cream and a chat to some surfers who are enjoying one of the other pleasures that Goolwa Beach and the Murray mouth are famous for.

 

Gnarly dude

Cheers

Baz

 Additional notes

 I have recently spent time in Africa and the link below will allow you to enjoy images and text describing some of my encounters with the wonderful wildlife of Botswana and Zambia. I will attach a new image and notes to accompany each post.

https://wildlifemomentssa.blogspot.com

Weeroonas Wildlife

12 Aug

Dear Reader:

The roadside view makes the pair of ibis look like some multi headed ying-yang version of a bird as one looks up while the other dips its beak into a puddle. They are part of a larger group that has been feeding in the samphire wetlands that border the road to the island.

 

 

Strictly speaking Weeroona island is more like a raised peninsula; cut off from the mainland by swampy ground that only floods in severe weather conditions coupled with high tides. Situated between Port Pirie and Port Germein (about two hours drive from Adelaide) the island is a weekend destination for many locals. There are a wide variety of dwellings from beachside shacks to luxury homes scattered around the island. Surrounded by stands of mangrove and with stretches of beach mudflat and cliffs the periphery of this tiny island is a Mecca for coastal wildlife.

 

 

As I reach the island I notice a small park with children’s play equipment, shelter and barbecues. Nearby there is a boat ramp and a walking trail that skirts the mangroves. A school of mullet are feeding in the shallows and I can hear the calls of mangrove warblers and herons in the tangles of trunks and leaves that crowd the water’s edge. The view from the park back across the mainland to the lower Flinders is spectacular with low clouds enveloping the crest of the hills.

 

 

 

Driving around the island only takes a few minutes but there are several minor roads and tracks leading down to the sea that are well worth exploring. Along one small trail I have an uninterrupted view of the skeletal remains of an old fishing boat and a mixed accumulation of pied and black cormorants on a small exposed beach.

Cormorants and gulls

 

It has been a brief but exhilarating drive around the little island and I will make sure to set more time aside on my next foray into the area. But Weroona leaves me with one final avian gift. Just as I am about to drive back to the main highway a pair of masked lapwings decide to walk along the path near the walkway. Today the light is good and I manage to get a nice detailed shot of one of these wary coastal birds purposefully strutting along the gravel track.

 Cheers

Baz

Additional notes

This is an easy walk/drive which is quite suitable for families and seniors with public toilets, barbecues, parking and other facilities nearby.

 

 I have recently spent time in Africa and the link below will allow you to enjoy images and text describing some of my encounters with the wonderful wildlife of Botswana and Zambia. I will attach a new image and notes to accompany each post.

https://wildlifemomentssa.blogspot.com

Weeroona’s Wildlife

10 Aug

Dear Reader:

The roadside view makes the pair of ibis look like some multi headed ying-yang version of a bird as one looks up while the other dips its beak into a puddle. They are part of a larger group that has been feeding in the samphire wetlands that border the road to the island.

 

Pair of ibis

 

Strictly speaking Weeroona island is more like a raised peninsula; cut off from the mainland by swampy ground that only floods in severe weather conditions coupled with high tides. Situated between Port Pirie and Port Germein (about two hours drive from Adelaide) the island is a weekend destination for many locals. There are a wide variety of dwellings from beachside shacks to luxury homes scattered around the island. Surrounded by stands of mangrove and with stretches of beach mudflat and cliffs the periphery of this tiny island is a Mecca for coastal wildlife.

 

Island life

 

As I reach the island I notice a small park with children’s play equipment, shelter and barbecues. Nearby there is a boat ramp and a walking trail that skirts the mangroves. A school of mullet are feeding in the shallows and I can hear the calls of mangrove warblers and herons in the tangles of trunks and leaves that crowd the water’s edge. The view from the park back across the mainland to the lower Flinders is spectacular with low clouds enveloping the crest of the hills.

 

Mangrove channel

 

Driving around the island only takes a few minutes but there are several minor roads and tracks leading down to the sea that are well worth exploring. Along one small trail I have an uninterrupted view of the skeletal remains of an old fishing boat and a mixed accumulation of pied and black cormorants on a small exposed beach.

 

What a wreck

 

It has been a brief but exhilarating drive around the little island and I will make sure to set more time aside on my next foray into the area. But Weroona leaves me with one final avian gift. Just as I am about to drive back to the main highway a pair of masked lapwings decide to walk along the path near the walkway. Today the light is good and I manage to get a nice detailed shot of one of these wary coastal birds purposefully strutting along the gravel track.

 

Masked lapwing

 

 

Cheers

Baz

Whyalla’s Coastal Fringe

25 Jun

Whyalla’s Coastal Fringe

Dear Reader:

The grey kangaroo is bounding along the small levy that cuts across a shallow clay pan near the edge of a tidal flat. It stops monetarily and twitches its mobile ears, looks around, then continues on its way into the scrub alongside the raised earthen mound. I get a few seconds to make a shot and the wary marsupial is gone.

Grey kangaroo

 I am exploring the coastal fringe of Whyalla South Australia’s third most populous city. The steel and regional centre is situated near the head of Spencer Gulf on the Eyre Peninsula about 450 kms from Adelaide. The area is a mixture of mangrove, tidal flats, sandy beach and some small industrial areas that enclose substantial freshwater pools. Several roads lead down towards the coast from the Lincoln Highway and some of the terrain requires 4WD.

Garden centipede

Egyptian beetle 

I take the vehicle across one of the mud flats and have to fight to keep from getting bogged. Slipping the SUV into low range and slowly sliding across the surface I wrestle with the steering until the wheels grip sand on the edge of the levy. Relieved, I get out and survey the quagmire of clay-like debris stuck to the wheel arches. But my close call has led me to a cosy little depression amongst the scrub and I decide to move a few fallen branches and search for invertebrates. After a few minutes I unearth a rather large garden centipede and a few Egyptian or ‘cellar beetles’ as well as some different ant species. After a little macro photography I carefully replace their homes.

Australian pelicans 

Another dirt road takes me past the rifle club and some large freshwater ponds that have attracted a small group of pelicans. The birds appear to be simply congregating and socialising between short forays into the water to feed. Along the edge of the water there are several different species of small waders including dotterels and plovers but they are wary and take flight when I approach.

Crested pigeons 

The scrub alongside the mangrove patches is also home to a variety of birds including singing honeyeaters and fantails. One scrubby eucalypt that has managed to endure decades of salty onshore winds provides shelter for a trio of crested pigeons a species that I often see found foraging in the coastal bush.

View from Hummock Hill 

I head back onto the highway drive back into the city and up to a local lookout. Hummock Hill is a fitting place to end my exploration of Whyalla’s coastal fringe. The site of the first settlement in 1901 it provides panoramic views of the city, coast and surrounding bushland. Hummock Hill also served as a gun emplacement during the Second World War and has lately been developed as an historic site; lovely place to simply take in the rugged beauty that this area has to offer.

Cheers

Baz 

 I have recently spent time in Africa and the link below will allow you to enjoy images and text describing some of my encounters with the wonderful wildlife of Botswana and Zambia. I will attach a new image and notes to accompany each post.

https://wildlifemomentssa.blogspot.com

Dry Creek by the Junction

31 May

Dry Creek by the Junction

Dear Reader:

Yes, an ant is an ant, but in Australia some ants are just that little bit more! Inch ants or bulldog ants live up to their name and reputation. Solitary hunters that still live in communal nests they have a fearsome bite and relentless disposition. This one is hunting late on a cool autumn afternoon scouring a eucalypt trunk for prey. I watch carefully as it systematically probes under the bark for any hapless invertebrate that is sheltering or hibernating. Seeing a bulldog ant at this time of year seems strange, perhaps a late burst of warm weather woke the colony up. The vagaries of nature are always fascinating.

 

Bulldog ant hunting

 

I am exploring the section of Dry Creek which flows between the intersection of Grand Junction Road and Nelson Road through to Walkley’s Road. It can be accessed behind ‘The Junction’ shopping centre. The creek twist and turns along this part of its length and is bordered by walking and bike trails. There are some deep pools, a ford and a small footbridge which all facilitate wildlife viewing and photography. Throw in a nice bakery at the shopping area and you have the makings of a perfect walk.

 

Dry Creek

 

The little footbridge which spans the river is an ideal place to watch for wildlife. It is high on the banks and provides a good vantage point for peering into the treetops. Today it is the surface of the water that catches my attention. The tell-tale V shaped ripples of a water rat swimming across the creek are an unexpected bonus on my walk. I have rarely seen the elusive little rodents in Dry Creek and to know that they are present is quite a treat. Water rats or rakalis are a native species with a broad head, webbed feet and a white tip to the tail. They feed on aquatic insects, yabbies, molluscs, frogs and small fish.

 

Australian water rat swimming

 

 

 

Further along the path there is a break in the bushes and trees that envelop the sides of the creek and I can get good access to the water’s edge.  A little pied cormorant is sitting on a log directing its gaze into a long pool before continuing to hunt amongst the reeds along the water’s edge. On my walk back I see the same bird with its wings outstretched drying them between forays into the creek to hunt. Cormorants do not have waterproofing oils to protect their plumage like some waterbirds and therefore must continually dry out their feathers.   

 

 

little pied cormorant

 

Near one of the fords there are some massive river red gums shading the creek bed and I can hear the raucous screech of lorikeets in the highest branches. A quick look through the telephoto lens helps me to identify them as musk lorikeets. These social little birds seem to have found something to feed on in the canopy. There are no blossoms on the trees so I can only assume that it is some form of insect life.

 

Musk lorikeet

 

My walk has been most rewarding as I have encountered a wide range of animals from aquatic mammals and predatory insects through to brightly coloured parrots in the treetops. Only the bakery to go and I can mark today down as more than a little successful.

 

Cheers

Baz

 

Additional notes

This is an easy walk which is quite suitable for families and seniors with food outlets, parking and other facilities nearby.

 

 I have recently spent time in Africa and the link below will allow you to enjoy images and text describing some of my encounters with the wonderful wildlife of Botswana and Zambia. I will attach a new image and notes to accompany each post.

https://wildlifemomentssa.blogspot.com

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