Archive | August, 2014

Yellow Flowers on a Winter’s Day

8 Aug

Dear Reader:

Adelaide is generally blessed by an amicable climate but it does have its grey days. Usually the winter showers are interspersed with long fine periods when the sun shines through the clouds and brightens up a chilly morning. Today was not one of those days.

1 Euryops or Little Sunray

Euryops or Little Sunray (click to enlarge)

I had been staying at some lovely little units on the edge of the foothills and planning to take some shots in the gardens to promote the virtues of a South Australian winter’s day but the weather refused to cooperate. It was overcast with a little drizzle and no sign that the curtain of clouds would lift. Undaunted, I headed into the manicured grounds looking for something to lift my spirits and lend a little colour to the day. Fortunately, the perfect candidate was growing right in front of my unit in the form of a robust Euryops bush; a non native, daisy species that blooms right through the winter months.

Hoverfly landing and feeeding on blossom (click to enlarge)

Hoverfly landing and feeding on blossom (click to enlarge)

Despite the cold weather, the bush appeared to be supporting a small but diverse population of insects some of which I would normally associate with the spring and summer months. A couple of hoverflies were sitting in the centre of the flowers probing them with their stout little proboscises. These hornet coloured little insects usually flit between flowers pausing for a brief instant to feed. The cool weather seemed to have slowed the insects down a little and made them for more amenable to having their portraits snapped.

Flower spider hunting amongst petals (click to enlarge)

Flower spider hunting amongst petals (click to enlarge)

 Euryops blossoms provide are the whole world for a common flower spider. I watched through my lens as one wait immobile on a petal for several minutes then moved to another one to maintain its frozen stance, primed for a sudden jump should either prey or predator come too close. During the day I caught glimpses of several different species of flower spiders and they are certainly an interesting group of common garden animals worth exploring further.

Fly feeding on blossom (click to enlarge)

Fly feeding on blossom (click to enlarge)

 The winter months see a decrease in virtually all arthropods especially spiders and insects. The common bush flies that can be a nuisance in summer and early autumn are a welcome absence in the winter. However, several of the more solitary species of flies seem to persist through this chilly season. Their iridescent green bodies and bright red eyes provide a striking contrast to the bright yellow flowers as they probe their dense centres searching for nectar in the delicate folds.

 Breakfast for two (click to enlarge)

Breakfast for two (click to enlarge)

 Perhaps the most prolific insects that I saw on this grey, chilly morning were the common woolly bear caterpillars that appeared to be munching both the leaves and flowers of my Euryops bush. These furry little creatures grow into black and white tiger moths and seem to be immune to the cold weather that decimates other insect populations. Indeed, I seem to remember that they can survive temperatures below freezing because of the glycerol, a form of anti-freeze, they produce.


Then the rain came down and sent me scampering inside for a glass of mulled wine and time to review the images I had captured while thinking about the next sunny day.


Until next time


Fur, Feathers and Football

2 Aug

Dear Reader:

Winter in Adelaide brings its own special pleasures. The hills lose their brownish tinge, the sea is wilder, different flowers are in bloom and the wildlife changes as some species head to warmer climes and others replace them. But to many Adelaideans, winter also heralds the footy (AFL) season and a rather spectacular upgrade to the already picturesque Adelaide oval has added a new dimension to the watching this uniquely Australian sport. The venue has also brought up to 50 000 spectators to the banks of the Torrens Lake on a weekly pilgrimage to support their teams.


Footy fans on the new bridge to the stadium

Today the crowd is flowing over the lake on the glass and steel bridge with their silver, black and teal scarves whipping in the breeze while I am under it with the teal wing flashes of a black duck locked into my viewfinder. Just a few moments earlier I had also been on the receiving end of a severe telling off from a pied cormorant that took exception to my presence near its favourite fishing spot on the river bank.


Black duck


Get away from my patch

I had cycled into town just prior to the match to take some pictures of the new stadium to promote it as one of the many attractions the city boasts. As I walked along the river bank I was distracted by the abundance of winter wildlife and the various animals’ indifference to the huge influx of people above them. And the thought occurred to me; if a few fans arrived early or stayed later they could take in some of the natural wonders that the city has to offer as well as enjoying the sport.


Australian water rat heading back into the lake.

Leaving the cormorant to its protestations, the duck to its scratching and the crowd to their game, I decide to work my way along the eastern bank of the lake towards the weir. No more than two meters in front of me I can see the tell tale V shape ripples of an Australian native water rat hunting close to the dock that fronts the rowing club. The little mammal hops up on the wooden edge every few minutes to eat a freshwater mussel, yabbie or frog that it has caught. An extraordinary encounter with a very shy Australian native mammal.


Australian pelican foraging along the bank


Black swan in nest made from twigs, reeds and debris

Closer to the weir the reeds are quite dense providing a perfect habitat for Australian pelicans and black swans. The pelicans forage along the banks for fish and invertebrates while the swans have constructed a nest alongside some protective netting that is being used to re establish native aquatic plants.

My winter walk along the Torrens has been more than a little rewarding and I am looking forward to a cup of coffee at the little café by the weir where I will check on the footy scores while I can still hear the  intermittent roars of the crowd in the background.

Until next time



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