Archive | September, 2014

A Bite at Grange

19 Sep

Dear Reader:

A lone silver gull is flying parallel to the shore just above the Norfolk pines that grow along the Grange beach front. Suddenly it veers off course, dipping towards one of the trees and letting out a loud, raucous shriek. This unusual behaviour encourages me to stop and take a closer look through the telephoto lens. And there, perched serenely on the topmost branch is a beautiful nankeen kestrel surveying its stretch of prime coastal real estate.

Nankeen kestrel looking for prey

Nankeen kestrel looking for prey (click all images to enlarge)

 

Nankeen kestrels are small falcons that are widely distributed across the country. They usually live in rural or outback regions where they hover over fields and open bushland preying on small mammals, reptiles and occasionally taking birds in the air; which explains the gull’s nervous disposition. Seeing one in an urban area is a really quite unusual. For the next half an hour I follow the raptor as it patrols the shoreline and dunes moving from tree tops to fence posts to survey its territory.

The Marines, beachside heritage homes

The Marines, beachside heritage homes

 

Grange Beach is just 15 minutes from the centre of Adelaide. An old wooden jetty, classic golden sands and heritage buildings make it an ideal place to go for a walk and grab a bite to eat summer or winter! A walking &cycling trail passes through the area winding between the seafront properties and coastal revegetation zones providing a unique blend natural and urban habitats that encourages a wide variety of wildlife.

Spotted dove

Spotted dove

Singing honeyeater in coastal scrub

Singing honeyeater in coastal scrub

The unfortunately named pigface

The unfortunately named pigface

 

After watching the kestrels I follow the track south. The delicate shrubs and grasses that stabilise the dunes are home to many different bird species from common house sparrows to spotted doves and singing honeyeaters. Although it is a coolish day and the insect life is in short supply a few bees and butterflies are congregating around some early blooming pigface, a common succulent in the dunes.

Grange jetty at low tide showing worm casing encrustaceans

Grange jetty at low tide showing worm casing encrustaceans

 

For a little variety I walk back along the beach. The tide is out exposing concrete-like encrustations of tube worms cemented to the jetty piles. A track leads from the beach to the old kiosk which is now a fashionable restaurant. My day ends with a glass of white, salt and pepper squid with sautéed scallops in the shell accompanied by a generous serve of crusty bread.

Grange Kiosk

Grange Kiosk

 

Until our next adventure

Baz          

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I Wonder What the Neighbours are Doing?

11 Sep

Dear Reader:

It is a cool, early spring afternoon. I can hear annoyingly cheerful birds singing in the white cedars that line my street but I am bored stupid. Home from work with a cold but certainly not sick enough to stay in bed. What to do? Going for a walk along the beach or up in the hills would be foolish and daytime television is just one step above poking my eyes with a sharp stick. Decision made! I shall stroll up to the main road, pick up a magazine and have a cup of coffee with an inordinately unhealthy pastry at one the cosy little cafés that are dotted along Prospect Road.

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A mudlark finds grubs in the gutter (click all images to enlarge)

 

 

I am halfway through the door when I stop and think that it might be worth taking the camera along, though the chance of seeing something unexpected on a quiet suburban street at midday; is not very likely. It turns out that I am quite mistaken and my two hundred metre walk to the main drag is filled with interesting moments.

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Rainbow lorikeet feeding on a late flowering gum

 

First encounter; a pair of rainbow lorikeets are alternately feeding on a late flowering gum and taking turns to performs some trade-like renovations on a hollow branch in a nearby cedar. One of the parrots uses its powerful, curved beak to scour the edge of the entrance while the other pops in out and removing old bits of nest lining. They seem quite oblivious to my presence and allow me to get quite close.

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Rainbow lorikeets house hunting

 

I leave the rainbows to their reno-project and move further up the street. A Murray magpie is sorting its way through the leaf litter and other detritus deposited in the gutters by recent rains. Every so often it stops, cocks its head to one side and gulps down a worm or bug. Ironically, there is a classic white backed magpie sitting on the power line above watching its little namesake. Despite their titles, the two species are unrelated and it is only their colouring that encouraged early settlers to name the birds after the black and white European magpies. Although it is a large imposing bird this particular magpie has a serious handicap which is revealed when I take a look at its magnified image on the viewfinder. The powerful beak has been badly damaged making both feeding and defence a ‘tough ask’.

A busted beak makes life on the streets tough

A busted beak makes life on the streets tough

 

Even the cafe has its wildlife component as a squadron of New Holland honeyeaters perched in a courtyard tree argue over territory with the ever present miner birds and several sparrows and pigeons patrol beneath the tables in search of crumbs. But the standouts are still the rainbows and their nesting antics, which simply confirmed an unwritten rule that every wildlife photographer knows; take your camera, something will almost always surprise you.

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Juvenile miner bird watching out for new Holland honeyeaters

 

Until our next chat

Baz

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