Archive | June, 2015

Wilpena…. Three Kangaroos and an Emu

26 Jun

Dear Reader:

The hillside behind the cabin is quite steep and the trail leading to its summit zig-zags between rocky outcrops and stands of native pine. Every so often there are depressions and small caves where the rust coloured soil is littered with roo droppings. From the first ridge, the view back across ‘the pound’ is spectacular with the curved formation of peaks that shape this unique environment clearly evident against the deep blue of an outback sky.

 

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A lone euro with the ranges in the background

Euro nremains below a particularly steep rockface

Euro remains below a particularly steep rockface

 

A little further up the scree slope the sound of scattering rocks provides a tell-tale hint of movement. I freeze, lift the camera and wait; nothing but the thumping sound of a large animal bounding further up the hillside. Only a kangaroo makes that sound and only a hill kangaroo, sometimes called a wallaroo or euro, would be living in this steep terrain.

Classic euro habitat

Classic euro habitat

 

 

There are three species of kangaroos, as well as their smaller wallaby relatives, living in the Flinders Ranges near Wilpena Pound ; a crater shaped geological formation in South Australia’s northern outback region about five hour’s drive from Adelaide. Each species tends to favour slightly different habitats in this arid, semi desert environment though there is inevitably some overlap in their territories.

This euro has a rustier tinge to its fur

This euro has a rustier tinge to its fur

 

Euros are generally solitary and they prefer rocky outcrops. Their fur is thicker than the other two species and can have a slightl reddish tinge. They are quite stocky, robust kangaroos measuring up to 195 cms from head to tip of the tail with both males and females similar in appearance. Red kangaroos prefer the open plains and males can measure 2.4 metres and always have a rusty coat and distinct facial markings. Female red kangaroos have grey fur with a hint of blue shading and are considerably smaller. The third species, the western grey kangaroo, is less common in the ranges; they look more like a lighter built euro with smoother fur. Western greys are gregarious and prefer woodlands. They are the most common species in the southern part of the state.

Western grey kangaroos

Western grey kangaroos

 

From the top of the hillside I work my way back down a steep gully to the lower slopes where a couple of euros are feeding on the grass and small shrubs growing close to the roadside. They let me approach to within fifty metres before twitching their ears nervously and bounding off into a stand of native pines at the base of a steep hillside.

A young euro moments before bounding up into the escarpment after its mother

A young euro moments before bounding up into the escarpment after its mother

Female adult euro bounding up into escarpment

Female adult euro bounding up into escarpment

 

The roadside provides a perfect view of both the rugged escarpments that dominate the terrain and the open grassland that characterizes the entrance to the pound. In the distance I can see the outline of several red kangaroos grazing on the grass near an old restored woolshed that serves as a gallery and function centre. They appear to be quite relaxed and as I approach I notice that it is actually a pair of animals; a large male standing close to a resting female.

Red kangaroo male and female

Red kangaroo male and female

Red kangaroo male and female

Art display in the old woolshed

 

I have been quite lucky on my walk, having seen two of the three local kangaroo species and as if to point out that the landscape is inhabited by more than just marsupials a couple of emus run across the walking trail as I am turning for home.

A pair of emus running alongside a walking trail at Wilpena

A pair of emus running alongside a walking trail at Wilpena

 

Satisfied with my morning’s work I head back to the chalets for a shower and lunch at one of the two dining areas. Chalets, dining areas, a well equipped general store and even a small swimming pool for the summer heat; not really roughing it but on the other hand there is abundant wildlife just a stone’s throw away. SA at its very best.

Accommodation Wilpena

Accommodation Wilpena

 

Cheers

Baz

 

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Tea Tree Gully-An Afternoon in San’s Garden

12 Jun

Dear Reader:

Sometimes, it is not about four wheel drives, walks in the bush or diving on a reef. Sometimes, South Australia’s wildlife wonders are the common animals and plants that live  right under our noses in the backyard. Last weekend I grabbed a pie and a doughnut from the local shop, pulled out the recliner and watched the antics of the local critters in my friend’s garden. I hope you enjoy the pictures and a few minor, explanatory observations.

Spotted dove snoozing on the garage roof

Spotted dove snoozing on the garage roof

To initiate proceedings, a spotted dove landed on the garage roof, much to the consternation of a local cat, who sat and stared at it for a few minutes, decided it was too much work then nonchalantly strolled off to find easier prey.

New holland honeyeater feeding on orange honeysuckle

New holland honeyeater feeding on orange honeysuckle

Oleander seeds pods

Oleander seeds pods

New holland honeyeater catching insect in mid flight

New holland honeyeater catching insect in mid flight

While the dove dozed the high energy brigade arrived in the form of a squadron of new holland honeyeaters who proceeded to feed on various blossoms, hawk for insects and in one bizarre instance; pull apart the seed pods of an oleander. Fair enough if it was nesting season but a little hard to fathom at the beginning of winter!!

Hover fly grabbing a suck to eat

Hover fly grabbing a suck to eat

Bee on lavender

Bee on lavender

The winter months are not too conducive to insect life but a few ‘die hards’ do persist and the lavender and daisies played host to quite a number of bees and hover flies respectively.

Noisy miner surveys the garden with a bandit glare

Noisy miner surveys the garden with a bandit glare

Whatever the season my little bandit friends are always around with their masked faces and grey plumage. A small flock of noisy miners did the afternoon rounds, harassing the other birds and making their presence felt; arguing as much with each other as the other species.

Singing the team song in the old gum tree

Singing the team song in the old gum tree

Strutting his stuff on the back lawn

Strutting his stuff on the back lawn

Just as I was settling for a little snooze when the warbling (carolling) call of white backed magpies brought me to my feet. I walked around to the front garden to see a trio of the large black and white birds high in the crown of a roadside eucalypt loudly proclaiming their territory. Then, the largest and obviously most confident bird flew down into the garden only a few metres away to search for grubs.

Quinnus muchsuddliusforaging in the fairy garden

Quinnus cuddlius foraging in the fairy garden

Back to recliner, pictures taken, lunch finished; book or snooze again beckoning…when the most active of all the garden’s wildlife toddled in and a restful, lazy afternoon dissipated like an early morning mist evaporating when the sunshine arrives.

Enjoy your own gardens

Baz

Brougham Park on a Winter’s Afternoon

7 Jun

Dear Reader:

It is late in the afternoon and a bit on the chilly side. Grey skies and showers have alternated all day with patches of blue and occasional bursts of sunshine through the clouds. My car is parked in O’Connell Street where I am meeting friends in an hour for a bite to eat then a movie at the art deco Piccadilly Theatre. Typically, and despite the weather, I have arrived a tad early with camera in hand, hoping that I might encounter a little urban wildlife.

O'Connell street has a woderful collectionof cafes and restaurants

O’Connell street has a woderful collectionof cafes and restaurants

 

At the end of O’Connell St the road curves down into the city through a little patch of parkland. Asphalt paths cross this little green oasis which is dotted with tall eucalypts, pines and several large Moreton Bay Figs. I can hear parrots calling in the tree tops and eventually I spot a rainbow lorikeet shuffling along a branch high in the crown of one of them. With a flourish of feathers, a second bird appears and the parrots start to preen and gently peck at each other. They seem to be a mating pair settling in for the night. Nearby a lone eastern rosella appears to be looking on with a touch of sad envy…anthropomorphic, I know.

Just dropped in to say Hi

Just dropped in to say Hi

A lone eastern rosella sillhouetted against the late afternoon sky

A lone eastern rosella sillhouetted against the late afternoon sky

 

I sit and watch the birds for a few minutes while scanning the rest of the tree with my telephoto lens when I notice the furry coat of a possum wedged in a hollow. I toss a couple of pebbles against the branch. The brown patch moves and a tail appears for a second as the owner moves further into the tree; definitely a possum, probably a brush tail as they are far more common than their ring tail cousins.

Daytime view of a brushtail possum

Daytime view of a brushtail possum

Parkland possums forage at night

Parkland possums forage at night

 

On the eastern side of the park the imposing facade of the Brougham Place Uniting Church is framed by the massive leaves of an old fig tree. There are birds flitting though the foliage but in the afternoon shadows it is impossible to identify, let alone photograph them.

Brougham Place Uniting Church across park

Brougham Place Uniting Church across park

 

Before heading back up to my parked car I walk further down Brougham Place alongside a red brick wall that cordons off one of the area’s classic old mansions. A tangle of olive tree branches straddle the top of the wall and deep in their shadows a pair of crested pigeons are finding a sheltered place to roost.

Classic homes and businesses surround the park

Classic homes and businesses surround the park

Crested pigeons in olive tree

Crested pigeons in olive tree

Even on a cloudy winter’s afternoon, Adelaide has yet again delivered a memorable wildlife experience; a fascinating and ever-changing urban ecosystem available to anyone who takes a few moments out of their busy day to stop and look.

 

Thanks for reading my work

Cheers

Baz

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