Spotted Doves or Pics from my final days in isolation

18 May

Spotted Doves

Dear Reader:

There are many ways to experience the natural and urban environments that we South Australians are lucky enough to have at our disposal. One technique that I have employed, in these days of isolation, is to focus on one animal for a period of time and try to explore some of its behaviours. For obvious reasons, it is best to choose a species that is common to your area. By watching it closely you might discover some interesting traits that you have never noticed before and probably come up with some questions regarding these behaviours.

 

Lovely markings

 

Each morning I scatter out seeds for the Spotted Doves that frequent the trees surrounding my garden. Over the years I have watched them nest, raise their chicks, avoid predators and engage in a variety of mating and chasing behaviours across my back lawn.

 

Live and Let Live

 

On the subject of predators; the back yard is the domain of my very old Abyssinian cat who, in years gone by, made sure that few birds settled on the lawn during his watch. Although curtailed by a harness and length of nylon cord he was still able to generate enough speed and leaping power to scare any bird that transgressed into his territory. Today, not so fast, and the doves know it and feed close to him. The occasional sortie in their direction is met with a flap of wings to gain some height then a quick return to the ground and feeding.

 

My Turf

 

Off you go

Just one more piece of seed

Sometimes, when feeding one dove will dominate the area charging at the others and seeing them off. However, the victims of this avian bullying quickly return and the perpetrator seems to expend more energy and get less seed than they do. I suspect the perps are males, enough said.   

 

Necessary maintenance

 

Another interesting Dove behaviour is resting in a sunny patch with one wing extended and feathers spread. Apparently, this helps the fine preening oil spread over the plumage and drives out parasites.

 

One of each kind

 

Spotted Doves are attractive birds that belong to the Columbidae family which includes pigeons. They are an introduced species. Several other kinds of birds belonging to this group are also quite common in the Adelaide area. They include: Feral pigeons or Rock Doves, Barbary or Turtle Doves and Crested Pigeons. These birds all have melodious calls and add to the diverse birdsong of our city.

 

 

Explore and enjoy your own environment and stay well and safe in these unusual times.

 

Cheers

Baz

 Please pass on this blog title and or contact information (URL) to any person or organisation with an interest in taking walks and enjoying wildlife in SA.

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 field notes 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

Coronablog 3 Watching the bird baths or how to pass the time in Corona Virus Isolation…Day 10

23 Apr

Coronablog 3 Bird Baths

 

Dear Reader:

I am not a huge fan of feral Pigeons or Rock Doves as they are more correctly named. However, as I am writing this piece there is a pair sitting quietly together in the bird bath just a few meters from my desk. They make rather a nice picture despite having to shoot through the windows which upon reflection could do with a clean. My excuse for the somewhat soft nature of the image.

 

Pigeon pair

 

We all have certain manufactured features in our homes and gardens that attract animals. It might be a vent in the wall that is home to a spider, a shed where geckos thrive or a wood pile that is home to ‘who knows what’. My focus today are the three bird-baths that sit amongst the shrubs in both my front and back gardens.

 

In I go

 

Shaking my feathery butt

It is late afternoon and the terracotta bird bath in the back garden is cloaked in shadow making photographs difficult. Even though the Nikon P900 that I use adapts well to the situation I must brace myself and make every effort to keep the camera still. A Blackbird lands on the lip of the bowl and steps gingerly in before taking a quick dip. A few moments later a New Holland Honeyeater follows suit.

 

I’ll just sit in the seed

 

As mentioned, there is also a birdbath in the front garden and that appears to attract a different set of customers. Both Spotted Doves and House Sparrows like to feed on the seeds I leave in a bowl that sits in the centre of the dish. And, I have spotted several White-plumed Honeyeaters drinking which is a treat as they rarely come into the yards.

 

In these long days of isolation, it is a pleasant distraction to sit quietly on the porch reading the paper with a cuppa and a camera watching the local bird life feeding, bathing, drinking and squabbling at my bird baths .

 

Cheers

Baz

Please pass on this blog title and or contact information (URL) to any person or organisation with an interest in taking walks and enjoying wildlife in SA.

 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 field notes 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

Coronablog 2, Mellow Yellow or how to pass the time in Corona Virus Isolation… Day 7

20 Apr

Mellow Yellow

 

Dear Reader:

As mentioned in my previous post (Coronablog 1) I am in isolation and exploring the wonders of my own garden rather than exploring South Australia’s rural and wild destinations.

 

Garden on the day

 

Yellow flowers

 

I am wandering around the garden observing the variety of creatures that live in, on and around yellow flowers. Yellow being the predominate colour of blossoms this time of year; early autumn. It is a little overcast which is not the best for creating vivid images but the absence of shadow does have the advantage of not frightening the timid creatures that live amongst the blossoms.

 

Gerbera and beetle

 

My first sighting is a tiny black beetle that is crawling across the petals of a bright yellow Gerbera. It resembles a lawn beetle, but in all honesty, there are so many beetle species, it is hard to identify.

 

Tiny Flower Spider

Munching the blossoms

Lynx Spider

The African Daisy bush has always been home to a variety of invertebrates from spiders and flies to caterpillars, and today is no exception. There is a ‘late-in-the season’ Woolly Bear Caterpillar munching on a flower bud, a tiny Flower Spider perched on a petal and a larger Lynx Spider poised on another bud ready to pounce on any unsuspecting prey.

 

Hoverfly

 

While I have been working on the African Daisy I can see some hoverflies buzzing around the more common white and yellow or English Daisy bush. These remarkable little insects are garden friendly as their larvae eat aphids. The black and yellow colouring mimics wasps and is a useful form of defence. Their ability to hover in one place then zip sideways is interesting to watch.

As you can see; by simply picking a theme and using some observation skills you can pass some pleasant hours exploring an aspect of your garden.

 Enjoy the solitude

Stay safe

 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 field notes 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

Coronablog 1 Purple Haze or how to pass the time in Corona Virus Isolation… Day 3

17 Apr

Purple Haze

Dear Reader:

I am confined, isolated, restricted and not certainly going anywhere. I flew in from interstate a couple of days ago so its 14 days house and garden captivity. However, as the purpose of my blog has always been to encourage people to explore whatever natural areas are at their disposal it is time for me to challenge myself and discover what is happening in my own backyard. And today it is exploring the purple flowers that are blossoming in this late autumn season……hence the title. Apologies for anyone expecting some guitar lessons a la Hendrix.

 

Coffee by the Lantana

 

Perhaps the most prolific insect attracter I have in the garden is a miniature, purple Lantana that forms a border with the footpath. Sitting on a sleeper, that is part of the low retaining wall that encloses the lawn, I can watch the comings and going of a selection of creatures visiting the plant.

 

A White with Cream under-wing

 

Tiny ants crawl along the stems and there are small flies feeding on the blossoms. An interesting selection but something bigger would be easier to shoot. After around ten minutes a lovely Cabbage White lands on a flower to feed.

 

Lynx Spider

 

As is so often the case; focussing on one animal increases one’s general perception and I notice that on a leaf adjacent to the butterfly there is a small Lynx Spider, a tiny predator that hunts other small invertebrates.

 

White-Banded Dart

 

It has been a wonderful way to ‘while away’ a few hours and with lunch in mind I reluctantly stand up to make my way indoors. But, Like the late-night adverts, ‘wait there is more’. A pair of lovely little Darter Butterflies settle on the bush for a few seconds and the flexibility of my Nikon P900 saves the moment as I focus and shoot in one smooth movement without having to change any settings.

Cheers on day 4 of isolation

Baz

PS New Blog coming soon for Days 5/6

 

 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 field notes 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

Robe, a South Eastern Wonder

11 Apr

Dear Reader:

It is early evening and I am walking along the beach looking for traces of animals washed up on the high tide. An old 4WD is slowly making its way towards the far end of the bay; probably some fishers preparing for an evening’s angling. 

 

Four wheel sunset

I am exploring some of the terrain in the state’s south east around Robe. I have been here on several occasions; as a marine science student examining the difference between marine life in this cooler thermocline and later as a snorkeler catching crayfish. The region is significantly different to Adelaide’s coastal environment. Not only is the water cooler and deeper close to the shore but also the limestone nature of the coast makes for quite different seascapes. 

 

Sea Sweep love the rough oxygenated water

The charming coastal township of Robe is a lovely destination. The centre of the cray-fishing industry in South Australia; it is built around a sheltered marina. The town is a mixture of heritage buildings converted into small businesses such as cafes, craft shops and accommodation and some later modern residences and shops. There is an excellent caravan and camping area and the town is close to wineries, coastal conservation areas and farmland. All of which make it an ideal tourist destination. 

 

Sheltered marina

Nearby Nora Creina Bay is a perfect example of the rugged limestone coast which the region is named after. The rocks are sharp and pitted with hardy coastal plants clinging to any area which is sheltered or can trap water. Below the surface of the bay lies a myriad of small caves and crevices that support an abundance of marine life. There are holiday shacks in the area and a sheltered bay where cray boats often anchor.

 

Limestone coastal environment

 

Even the drive down to Robe was a wonderful experience as I was able to enjoy the wonders of the Coorong National Park which flanks the highway for around 100 kms. There are numerous trails that wind into the area which is characterised by shallow lagoons, steep sand hills and low scrub. These iconic environments host a wide variety of wildlife and I was lucky enough to see numerous birds of prey and several different reptile species as well as a diverse selection of wading bird species that migrate here to feed during the harsh northern hemisphere winters. 

 

Brown falcon

 

Bearded Dragon

The sun has almost disappeared and the beach is empty and to be perfectly honest it is getting just a little chilly. It is definitely time to head back into town and try some of that fresh caught cray washed down with a local wine. 

 

Local Rock Lobster locally called Crayfish

Cheers and stay safe in these unpredictable days

Baz

Equipment

The land images were taken with a Canon Eos system

The underwater shot was taken with a Canon Powershot G7 and U/W housing

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 field notes 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

Naracoorte’s Creekside Walk

18 Mar

Dear Reader:

It is a rather overcast day, predicted to warm up in the afternoon when the light will be better for taking photographs. However, I am making the best of the conditions as I walk beside the little creek bed that runs alongside the caravan and camping park. There are parrots high in the canopy but they are too difficult to see clearly. I am just about to give up when a woman calls too me from the other side of the creek where some lovely properties sit amongst well-tended lawns. “If you are interested, there are some Tawny Frogmouths in the tree on this side”. Needless to say, I am interested.

 

Tawny Frogmouths

 

Naracoorte is around a four hour’s drive south east of Adelaide and the caravan park has powered sites, camping areas and chalets. For families; there is a swimming lake (yes! a lake), putting course, small railway and plenty of running around space. The area around Naracoorte also has an abundance of wildlife parks as well as the world heritage Naracoorte Caves where you can delve into the mysteries of the megafauna (large animals) that still roamed this region a mere 15000 years ago.

 

Nearby Naracoorte Caves

 

As I cross a small bridge back to the pathway, I notice some parrots on the lawns. It is unusual to see two species of birds foraging side by side. In this instance there are both Galahs (Rose Breasted Cockatoos) and Red Rumped Parrots feeding together. They seem engrossed and I can get reasonably close before taking a shot.

 

Galahs and Red-Rumped Parrots

 

The creek bed close to the park is quite dry and a variety of grasses and bushes are growing in it. I can hear the twittering of wrens and occasionally I catch a glimpse of the iridescent blue plumage of male Superb Blue Wrens. However, it is the brightly coloured Red-browed Finches that are easier to photograph as they emerge from the thickets to feed on seeding grasses.

 

TRed-Browed Finch

 

As I make my way towards the town along the Creekside trail the nature of the waterway changes. Several large pools lead into a long channel traversed by a footbridge. Numerous aquatic birds including: Ducks, Moorhens and Swamphens are swimming and feeding in the water and amongst the reed beds.

 

Purple Swamphen

I crouch to get a low angle on a Purple Swamphen when a Kookaburra bursts out of the gum tree above me. I watch its flight path carefully and note that it is in another gum on the far side of the bank near the bridge. A tricky shot in the low light and shrouded by leaves. Once again my camera comes through and considering the difficult conditions I am able to get quite a reasonable image due to the versatility of my Nikon P900 and a little post- image Photoshop.

 

Kookaburra after some Photoshop magic

 

My stroll along the Creekside pathway is at an end and I can certainly endorse this walk to anyone visiting Naracoorte and interested in wildlife. The caravan park owner also recommended the Naracoorte Hotel for an excellent meal at a reasonable price; definitely my next stop, as it is only a couple of hundred metres from the footbridge crossing.

 

Creek and path near the footbridge

 

Cheers

Baz

Additional notes

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

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 field notes 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

Backyard Safari With My New Tamron Lens

5 Mar

Dear Reader:

There is little doubt that the South Australia has some fascinating and inspiring countryside from the rugged coastline of the south east to the wild expanses of outback in the north. However, it is often what is right under our noses that can prove most interesting. With that in mind I decided to try out my new Tamron 18-400 lens in the back yard.

 

Wattle Bird enjoys the trellis

 

Backyard

 

 

Spotted Doves are quite common in our suburb and each morning I spread out a handfuls of seed to encourage them. It is wonderful to watch their antics especially around mating time with the males bobbing and cooing to get the females’ attention. Over the years they have built their simple twig nests in our gum tree and raised several broods of young.

 

Spotted Doves

 

The Tamron lens is reputed to have quite good macro capabilities and with that in mind I spent some time fossicking for insects in the foliage and flowers of Daisy and Correa bushes. There were crickets, ladybugs and hoverflies in some numbers and I settled on an image of a hoverfly that had landed on a blossom to feed.

 

Hoverfly

 

Even though cats are generally a menace to wildlife I have a soft spot for them if controlled in urban areas. I have two and the Abyssinian is well past being a menace to anything as he is 16 years old an it is quite amusing to see the proverbial ‘cat amongst the pigeons/doves’.

 

Too old to worry about

 

Each day I leave an apple and two orange halves spiked to my trellis which attract a wide variety of birds from noisy Rainbow Lorikeets to delicate New Holland Honeyeaters. It is a pleasant enough task to sit quietly in the garden and photograph them feeding and squabbling over my offerings.

 

Apples for Lorikeet lunch

 

Even the humble lawn has its role once I have spread a little seed about for the Doves, Pigeons and occasional Mudlarks. And, after the sprinklers come on in the summer or there is good rain, the local Blackbirds forage for worms.

 

Just a glimpse

 

There a very few mammals in our suburb bar cats and dogs. We are too far from the hills for Koalas and possums are rare. But one late afternoon as I was sitting reading the paper (camera as always on the table) I watched a little Fruit Rat bound across the path. Not the most welcome of guests but for me it is always a treat to see something new in the garden.

 

Cheers

Baz

 

See more South Australian stories and pictures in Weekend Notes

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

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