Flinders Ranges’ Brachina Gorge

1 Feb

Dear Reader:

There is a pair of kangaroos resting out on the low grassy plain. As we approach they sit up and watch us warily. I slow the 4WD down and pull up on the side of the track carefully lowering the window. The animals are a good hundred and fifty metres away which stretches my Panasonic FZ60 to its limits. I slide a bean bag under the camera and take a few shots. With the benefit of the telephoto I can tell that they are both Red Kangaroos; a grey shaded female and the rusty coloured male.

 

Red Kangaroos

 

I am driving into Brachina Gorge which slices through the Flinders Ranges between the Flinders and Outback highways just north of Wilpena Pound; a good day’s drive from Adelaide. Today I am focussing on wildlife but this incredible gorge is also a geological wonder with layers of rocks and fossils dating back hundreds of millions of years. A well defined trail explains their formation and significance and tours are available through this remarkable area (Google Brachina Gorge Tours).

 

Ancient rock strata

 

Once we reach the Gorge proper it is time to get out and do a little exploring on foot. My first encounter is a Shingleback or Sleepy Lizard that is well entrenched in a pile of rocks. A cache of snails and bits of plant matter suggest that this has been home for a while though in general they are transient reptiles until it is time to hibernate.

Sleepy or Shingleback Lizard

 

If there is one iconic species in the Flinders it is the beautiful Yellow Footed Rock Wallaby and a little further along the gorge near a pool of water and a rock fall seems like a good place to sit quietly and wait. I am rewarded for patience about twenty minutes later when two of the delicate little creatures hop down the slope towards the water.

 

Yellow Footed Rock Wallaby grazing

 

As well as amazing geological features and great wildlife the gorge has an abundance of interesting plants and in near the watercourse amongst some shale-like rocks I find a spreading clump of Sturt Desert Pea; the state’s floral emblem.

 

Sturt desert Pea

 

So far Brachina has yielded wallabies, roos and flowering plants as well as innumerable other wildlife that I have not even mentioned from cockatoos to spiders and even some undesirable feral goats. But, it is a rather beautiful Mulga Parrot feeding on a small ground covering plant that really marks the end of my trip through Brachina Gorge.

 

Bourke’s Parrot feeding

 

When I reach the Outback Highway Wildlife slips from my mind and I turn north towards Parachilna and the famous Prairie Hotel and a rather special lunch that I will leave you the reader to discover when you come up to our wonderful Flinders Ranges.

Cheers

Baz

Wiliamstown to Springton a Wildlife Drive

1 Jan

Dear Reader:

The paddock beyond the fence-line is characterised by open grassland still bearing a tinge of green from recent rains. There are gum trees punctuating the open expanse of pasture and a large mob of kangaroos are spread across this classic Australian landscape. Some are resting while others graze; a few have joeys in pouches or at heel.

 

Grazing roos

 

I am driving between Williamstown and Springton and despite most of the land being fenced off  each time I stop by the roadside there are many faunal and floral delights to discover. In addition, lunch at the end of the drive in the Springton Pub or morning tea at the start of my drive at the Williamstown Bakery, are wonderful refueling stopovers.

 

Echidna on the move

 

Echidna rolled and momentarily turned before righting itself

As I drive on I can see a variety of parrots in the roadside trees; rosellas, lorikeets and galahs are the dominant species. But in one very large eucalypt a group of Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoos have settled. Unfortunately they take to the air as I leave the vehicle. However, as luck would have it, I hear some rustling in the grass alongside the road and an Echidna appears trundling along in its everlasting search for termites. The fascinating animal rolls itself up and burrows down as I kneel to take a shot using the macro capability of my Nikon P900 to zoom in on its features.

 

Flax Lily species

 

After making several more quick stops to photograph birds in the scrub, pasture and trees along the road I find a lay-by with quite a lot of vegetation. Amongst the bushes and grass I notice a small collection of lovely Purple Flax plants, just one of the many flowering natives that can be seen through this area.

 

Painted Lady

 

Cuckoo Shrike species feeding

 

My final stop before the return drive back through Gawler is in a patch of scrub near a farm gate where there is quite a lot of undergrowth. The area is dominated by a single massive gum that appears to attract numerous birds. Scouring the leaf litter and broken branches reveals a lovely Painted Lady Butterfly while a Cuckoo Shrike sits in a barren branch above. A wonderful way to finish my little expedition.

Cheers 

Baz

Additional notes

This is an easy drive which is quite suitable for families and seniors with facilities at both towns.  

 See more South Australian stories and pictures in Weekend Notes

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By the Barrage

17 Dec

By the Barrage

Dear Reader:

A stately Australian Pelican glides across the water between the barrage and the reed beds.  This stretch of water is home to a wide variety water birds, fish and insects and even the occasional water rat.

 

Barrage and Pelican

 

Goolwa’s barrages are an intricate set of barriers between the freshwater expanses of Lake Alexandrina and the ocean. They are used to control the saline ocean water that once extended far up river under certain conditions. Locks in the barrage allows boats to pass through them giving fishers and other ‘boaties’ access to the Coorong; a long shallow waterway that runs parallel to the open ocean.

 

View from the track

Returning after collecting cockles

A paved road accesses the area with numerous interpretive signs explaining the history and purpose of this barrage which about five minutes from the Goolwa wharves taking Admiral Terrace which leads into Riverside Drive and then Barrage Road. Where vehicle access stops there is a small car park and a sign-posted track that leads over the sand-hills to Goolwa Beach; well known for its surf fishing and proliferation of cockles that are gathered for both food and bait.  

 

Pied Oystercatchers

 

I take the sand hill track over to the beach. There are several species of birds on the beach including; Plovers, Silver Gulls and the occasional Pacific Gulls and Common Terns patrolling the shallow waters looking for food. But it is a pair of Pied Oystercatchers that catch my eye as they delicately balance on one in the wet sand near the waterline.

 

Singing Honeyeater

Dune beetle

 

On my walk back across the dunes I focus on the numerous species of bushes, grasses and spreading ground covers that hold the dune ecosystem together. The wildlife is sparse in these harsh conditions but I do manage to find a large ‘weevil-like’ beetle foraging in some grasses and there are quite a few Singing Honeyeaters calling from the tops of bushes. There are also numerous tracks and droppings from kangaroos, rabbits and reptiles. I suspect that there is more action in the nocturnal hours.

 

Little Raven

Trudging through the dunes has been quite tiring; it is approaching lunch time and the wonderful bakeries of Goolwa beckon; or perhaps a pub lunch at the hotel.  As I climb into the car and head back along the lake one last animal  draws my attention. A raven is sitting on some weathered branches fluffing up its feathers and the light seems just right. Normally the all black birds are hard to photograph and the colours and reflections off their feathers seem incorrect. Down with the window, engine off to reduce vibration, rest the camera on the door frame and gently press the button. Voila… and now for lunch!!

 Cheers

Baz

 Additional notes

This is an easy drive which is quite suitable for families and seniors with parking and other facilities nearby. The walk across the sand hill track is quite strenuous though relatively short

 

See more South Australian stories and pictures in Weekend Notes

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Barrow Beach’s Dragons

26 Nov

It is a mild afternoon; a nice time for a drive down to one of my favourite outdoor destinations. Not well known or easily accessed, Barrow’s Beach is a half hour drive from Port Pirie and about fifteen minutes from Port Germein. A Google Earth hunt will best describe how to access the area, but beware; depending on weather and your desire for adventure, 4WD is recommended.

 

Typical terrain

 

We are scouting the beach for fishing spots and enjoying some wildlife photography at the same time. As we come off the track onto the beach I notice a group of Rose Breasted Cockatoos (Galahs) fossicking in the seaweed that has been washed up during stormy weather and high tides. Worth a shot as this is not their usual environment.

 

Beachside cockies

 

Further along the beach where the sand is quite tricky to negotiate a mixed flock of Pied Cormorants and Common Terns are resting on a sand bar. As we approach they take flight creating a lovely image as they pass low across the shallow water with the muted outline of the Flinders Ranges as a backdrop.

 

Formation flying

 

It seems that our drive is turning out to be more about wildlife than fishing. And our next few encounters highlight that idea. My fishing partner and driver Geoff traverses the beach and heads a back along a pot holed track overgrown with  wiry bushes and stunted trees . We stop several times to explore likely areas where reptiles, shore birds and even the odd kangaroo might be hiding.

 

Stay away

 

Kangaroos and shore birds do not seem to be on the menu in this area but we do flush out three separate species of lizards; a Shingleback, Bearded Dragon and a little Painted Dragon. Wonderful to see so many kinds of lizards in such a short period of time.

 

Glimpse of a dragon

 

Bearded dragon

Our trip is not ended and there is still much to see among the mangroves and little channels that flow through them but I shall leave that part of my adventure for another post in the future.

Cheers

Baz

Additional notes

This is a challenging drive with no facilities available. However once at the location walking is easy enough.

See more South Australian stories and pictures in Weekend Notes

https://www.weekendnotes.com/profile/651267/

 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 try to attach a new image and notes each month.

https://wildlifemomentssa.blogspot.com

Barossa’s Whispering Wall

1 Nov

. Barossa’s Whispering Wall

 Dear Reader:

At the end of the long curved concrete wall there is a little patch of broken reeds and other water plants that form a kind of mat on the surface; an ideal place for a variety of aquatic animals. Public access to this area is prohibited so I have to scan the mish-mash of vegetation with my long lens. To my surprise, there are both male and female Blue Wrens feeding on the numerous insects living around the plant material.

 

Male Blue Wren

 

Female Blue Wren

 

I am at the Whispering Wall which is the main dam containing the Barossa Valley reservoir. Built in 1903 it was considered quite an engineering feat at the time. The wall of the dam is named for its acoustic properties and you can stand at one end and be heard at the other even when speaking quietly. Most of the property around the dam is fenced-off but by simply waking around the grassed areas and across the dam it is possible to encounter quite a wide range of wildlife.

 

Curve of the dam wall

 

 

 

“I’m whispering.”

 

“Yep, I heard you.”

 

In another patch of reeds I catch sight of freshwater turtle peering through the broken stems and there are numerous small fish or tadpoles in the more open patches of water. Walking back across the dam I see a small group of Eurasian Coots feeding. And in the distance a lone Greater Crested Grebe is making its way across the reservoir; a bird that I have never seen in the wild. I take a long shot with the camera but the result is hardly award-winning.

 

Freshwater turtle probably a Macquarie Sort Neck

Eurasian Coot

Long distance shot of a Great Crested Grebe

 

Back at the car park I take a stroll around the grassy lawns which are dominated by massive red gums. Both Galahs and Sulphur Crested Cockatoos are perched high in the branches while smaller Lorikeet species are feeding on blossoms and gum nuts. Along the edge of this area several cormorants are resting in the trees; silhouetted by the dazzling blue of the sky.

 

 

My walk has been short but rewarding and a stop at the Williamstown Bakery on the way back will almost certainly make this a memorable day out.  

 Cheers

Baz

Additional notes

This is an easy walk and drive which is quite suitable for families and seniors with public toilets, picnic area and parking on site. It is dog friendly

See more South Australian stories on Weekend Notes

https://www.weekendnotes.com/profile/651267/

 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

Sandra’s Back Garden

24 Oct

Sandra’s Back Garden

 Dear Reader:

Sometimes it is both a challenge and simply fun to take out a camera and explore the wildlife of a familiar patch of land…..and gardens are one of the best places to do this. A surprising amount of wildlife resides in our own gardens.  A close look might reveal anything from fascinating insects that live in our flower beds to nocturnal geckos sheltering in a shed.

Marbled Gecko…a nocturnal inhabitant

 

Probably a Katydid, a relative of crickets and locusts

 

Sandra lives in the hills face suburb of Tea Tree Gully and a variety of birds and other animals regularly visit her garden. Some, like possums and foxes, are nocturnal and only leave traces of their comings and goings. Others, like magpies and butterflies are around in the daylight hours making the far easier targets for a photographer.

 

Tabbi breakfast

 

Each morning after breakfast Sandra throws the remains of her Weetbix onto the back lawn. This daily offering is greatly appreciated by two of the local cats as well as a small group of Noisy Miners.

 

Young Noisy Miner

 

Later in the day an apple and an orange are ritually sacrificed on two nails driven into an old tree stump; Blackbirds, New Holland Honeyeaters and the occasional Rainbow Lorikeet enjoy these treats.

 

Blackbird takes a look around……..

                                                                 

 

 

 

 

….gets the apple

That about covers the back garden’s feeding program. None of the food is in sufficient quantities to interrupt the animals’ natural feeding cycles or harmful to their diet. However, it does make sitting under the back veranda with a cup of tea rather an interesting experience.

In another post I will explore the equally charming world of the front garden.

 Cheers

Baz

 See more South Australian stories and pictures in Weekend Notes

https://www.weekendnotes.com/profile/651267/

 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 try to attach a new image and notes each month.

Wilpena Wildlife

4 Oct

Wilpena Wildlife

Dear Reader:

There is a sleepy lizard, or shingleback, staring back at me from the rocky ledge where it is sheltering. These harmless lizards eat a wide variety of foods from vegetation and berries to insects and snails. They are one of the most common reptiles in the Flinders Ranges; an ancient mountain range, about a five hour drive from Adelaide.

 

Sleepy lizard

 

I am staying at Wilpena Pound in the heart of the ranges. The hills that encircle this outback resort and campground are just a two minute walk away from my chalet and contain a plethora of wildlife, geological and botanical treasures.

 

Typical scenery

 

The lizard is just one of the animals that I encounter as I walk from my chalet towards the park’s entrance. The sun is dropping low in the sky and in the soft light I can see a group of emus feeding on a grassy plain that extends from the distant hills.

 

Arvo emus

 

As the emus move off I startle a female grey kangaroo with a joey at heel. The two marsupials look at me for a split second before bounding away into the scrub; grey blurs against a subtle canvass of brown and green.

 

Roos in flight

 

My day ends with a meal in the Wilpena Pound Restaurant watching a couple of roos feeding on the lawns and listening to the call of kookaburras.

 

Come and see the Flinders; you will not be disappointed!

 

Cheers

Baz

 

Additional notes

There are easy walks and drives which are quite suitable for families and seniors with public toilets, barbecues, parking and other facilities nearby. Dogs are not permitted in the National Park.

 

See more South Australian of my stories and photographs in Weekend Notes

https://www.weekendnotes.com/profile/651267/

 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 try to attach a new image and notes to accompany each post.

https://wildlifemomentssa.blogspot.com

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