Archive | August, 2015

Norwood’s Parade of Animals

29 Aug

Norwood’s Parade of Animals

 Dear Reader:

It has been rather a grey week but today the sun is showing its face at regular intervals and there is a blackbird singing in a tree above me. A good day for a walk around Norwood admiring the architecture before grabbing a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants and hotels that make the area a premier dining destination. But this old, established suburb with its towering trees and well-tended gardens also provides meals and homes for a wide variety of urban wildlife.

Juvenile male blackbird

1 One of the classic hotels in the Norwood area

One of the classic hotels in the Norwood area

 

Blackbird aside; the first indigenous species that grabs my attention is living between the petals of a bright yellow daisy bush. The diminutive flower spider hunts amongst the blooms for small insects. This one has ambushed a fly and is proceeding to wrap it in a web for a late afternoon snack.

2 Flower spider with lunch

Flower spider with lunch

 

A little further down the street I can hear the call of lorikeets as a pair of the colourful little parrots forage in the trees for seed and blossom. I follow them closely as they fly from the tree tops to a smooth barked gum tree right on the edge of Osmond Terrace, a busy boulevard that cuts through Norwood. Here, with traffic whizzing past, they are investigating a hole in the trunk as a potential nesting site.

2 Lorikeet feeding

Rainbow lorikeet feeding

2 Rainbow lorikeet scouting for real estate

Rainbow lorikeet scouting for real estate

2 Taking a closer look

Taking a closer look

2 Hey honey come take a look

Hey honey come take a look

 

Osmond Terrace is also home to a group of Australian magpies. I can see a raggedy nest high in one of the liquid amber trees that line the thoroughfare and when I focus the long lens on it, the head of a large chick is just visible. After ten minutes an adult bird arrives with a grub in its beak. A few minutes later I catch site of another bird digging for invertebrates in the lawn of a local school while a third sits, watching from the concrete facade of Vine House, one of the suburb’s historic buildings.

Adult magpie arriving at nest

Magpie feeding

Magpie feeding

keeping an eye on proceedings

Keeping an eye on proceedings

 

My final stop is Finn MacCool’s Irish Pub for lunch where a group of pigeons is also enjoying an alfresco bite to eat in slightly less salubrious circumstances. I started with an introduced species…might as well end on the same note.

P1130169

Common pigeons feeding on crumbs in the street

 

Until our next adventure

Cheers

Baz  

Check out Geotravelling a new site that I have attached that celebrates the natural, cultural and urban diversity of our planet through my travel photographs.

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Adelaide’s Frome Road Bikeway

16 Aug

Adelaide’s Frome Road Bikeway 

Dear reader:

One of my favourite bike rides starts in north Adelaide at the junction of Barton and LeFevre Terraces. From the roundabout, a dedicated bike lane follows Le Fevre Terrace which is flanked by open parklands on one side and lovely colonial homes on the other. For the marginally more adventurous, there are several paths through the park that run almost parallel to the road. Noisy miners, honeyeaters, magpies and lorikeets are common here and in the evening you might see brush-tailed possums in the trees.

miner bird5

Noisy miners are a species of honeyeater

1

Nice little house with a good view of the parklands

 

The bike lane curves down towards the city through more parklands and playing fields. Huge Moreton Bay Fig Trees dominate the parklands providing a vantage point for both rose breasted and sulphur crested cockatoos that often fly down to the grass in search of food.

2a

Galahs having a bite to eat

 

Just over the Frome Road Bridge, Adelaide Zoo’s classic entrance marks the end of the parklands. Tucked between the zoo and the Botanic Gardens there is a stand of huge pine trees. Look up and it’s hard not to notice a large colony of fruit bats (flying foxes) that call these trees home.

2b

Entrance to the zoo

2c

Fruit bats in the trees

 

After the zoo there is a well marked bike lane that runs up Frome Road past the medical school and hospital. The lush lawns around these buildings are a favourite haunt of Sacred Ibises that probe the soft ground with their long curved beaks in search of worms and grubs.

12

View of the Torrens from the Frome Road Bridge

 

3

Sacred ibises feeding

 

As Frome Road crosses North Terrace you enter a purely urban environment with a wide bikeway that cuts all the way across the city towards the southern parklands. This charming region of the city has many unique little houses and flats decorated with native plantings providing a rich urban ecosystem that supports common bird species such as sparrows, blackbirds and magpies.

10

Magpies carolling in an urban environment

11

Stopping for a coffee along the way

 

The bikeway finally emerges at the Himeji Japanese Gardens. These gardens are dedicated to Adelaide’s sister city on the Japanese island of Honshu. In keeping with the rest of Adelaide’s green belt parklands the signage also relates to the aboriginal heritage of the area. Rosellas and lorikeets are common inhabitants in the ancient eucalypts that characterise this southern edge of the city.

5

Japanese garden

6

White cheeked eastern roesella

 

 

From the Japanese Gardens there are bike paths that meander through all of the southern parks but their wildlife and charms will be the subject of a further post in the warmer months to come.

 

Cheers

Baz

Chinaman’s Creek on a cloudy day

3 Aug

Chinaman’s Creek on a cloudy day

Dear Reader:

It is a cool, overcast afternoon; not ideal for wildlife watching or photography. Nevertheless, I have organised a weekend trip north to Port Augusta to investigate the Arid Zone Botanic Gardens during the winter months. As an added bonus, I hope to explore a shallow mangrove creek some 20kms south of the town that a friend has suggested as an interesting wildlife stop off en route.

1 wedge tail 2

Wedge – tailed eagles are Australia’s largest raptors with a wingspan over 2 metres

1 wedge tail 1. Australia's largest raptor with a wingspan over 2 meters

Wedge-tailed eagle about to fly

1 wedgy takes flight

In flight

 

 

As I approach the Chinaman’s creek junction I notice a pair of wedge-tailed eagles in the skeletal branches of a mallee tree. The birds seem quite relaxed as they survey the low scrub that stretches towards the coast. I let the car roll to a stop and gingerly climb out careful not to let the door bang shut. There is good cover between the birds and myself and I fire off a couple of shots before one bird senses the movement and takes to the air.

2 Galahs iin bush near wheat fields

Galahs in bush near wheat fields

2 Cockatoo near the park's entrance

Cockatoo near the park’s entrance

 

The stretch of unsealed road that stretches towards the coast is flanked on both sides by scrubby farmland that supports sheep and some wheat fields. Small groups of rose breasted cockatoos are perching in the branches alongside the road. They occasionally take flight into the fields to dig out tubers and possibly ravage a few of the crops; lovely birds to watch but not always popular with farmers.

4 Dirt trackinto the coservation park about 5 kms from the highway

Dirt track into the conservation park about 5 Kms from the highway

4 Visitors to the park

Visitors to the park

 

Where the cleared land gives way to forest and denser scrub, a fence and sign announces the Winninowie conservation Park which incorporates Chinaman’s Creek. Despite the remoteness of the area we meet a couple of 4X4s complete with camping trailers and stop to chat with the drivers for a few moments. They have been camping by the creek for a few days and had some success fishing the mangrove flats on the receding tide for whiting and mullet.

6 Chinaman's creek jetty at low tide

Chinaman’s creek jetty at low tide

9 Momentary glimpse of a sacred kingfisher

Momentary glimpse of a sacred kingfisher

 

A few minutes later we pull into the camping area. There is a scattering of permanent shacks and a small jetty that is completely exposed at low tide. I change from shoes to gum boots, from experience I know that this mud sticks like glue, and start to walk along the edge of the little creek. I can hear singing honeyeaters in the mangroves and catch flashes of colour from other unidentifiable species that flit amongst the thick foliage. But the birds are some distance away and the overcast conditions make photography all but impossible.

6 Chinaman's creek jetty at low tide

Chinaman’s creek jetty at low tide

 

 

I notice thousands of small burrows honeycombing the edge of the intertidal zone. Each is home to a small shore or mangrove crab. In the creek I can see roving schools of silver baitfish eagerly eyed by a pair of herons that are stalking the fringe of the mangroves.

4 As a pair of emus head towards the trees a grey kangaroo pops its head up

As a pair of emus head towards the trees a grey kangaroo pops its head up

 

Our time at the creek is limited. The clouds are thickening and a few fat raindrops have bounced off my camera lens. As we leave the park has a few more wildlife surprises that make me grit my teeth over the poor lighting conditions. A gorgeous sacred kingfisher perches on a long-dead coastal acacia bush and a group of grazing emus wanders across the saltbush dominated plain. Later, when examining this image in detail I discover that there is another participant in the scene; a grey kangaroo that was feeding close to them.

5 The creek at low tide with mangrove forest and Flinders Ranges in the background

The creek at low tide with mangrove forest and Flinders Ranges in the background

 

It has been an interesting first look at this coastal environment with its varied habitats and I look forward to further visits in the warmer, lighter months ahead.

 

Until next time

Cheers

Baz

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