Archive | September, 2016

A North Adelaide Garden Safari

30 Sep

A north Adelaide garden safari 

Dear Reader

There is a tiny spider on the daisy petal. It waits patiently for prey to approach. In an instant the little arachnid pounces and ensnares an unfortunate fly that has wandered too close. The spider drags its victim onto a nearby leaf, binds it in silk and proceeds to enjoy its lunch.

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Flower spider on daisy blossom

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Gotcha

 

I am wandering around the streets of North Adelaide exploring the local gardens and their early spring blooms. However, my real focus is the multitude of little invertebrates such as beetles, spiders, caterpillars that revel in the warmer weather and emerging flowers. To that end I have set my camera on macro and ramped up my observation skills to detect these well camouflaged and often minuscule creatures.

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Bee feeding on cat mint

 

A little further down the road a feline loving resident has planted some cat mint. Today it is not the local ‘mogs’ that are enjoying the plant but honey bees. Half a dozen are hovering around the purple flowers periodically settling to extract the nectar and unwittingly collect pollen to distribute.

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Woolly bear caterpillar

 

In one particular cottage garden the front fence is dominated by a huge yellow euryops bush, a kind of yellow daisy. It seems to be a favourite food for a myriad of mini beasts. A woolly bear caterpillar has munched its way through both leaves and flowers as it prepares to enter the next phase of its life as a chrysalis before eventually morphing into a tiger moth.

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There are many different species of ladybirds

 

Before heading into O’Connell Street and a well earned cup of coffee at one of a dozen restaurants I want to find one last iconic insect species. My chance comes when I notice a tiny spec of red and black on a deep purple native hibiscus flower. It is a ladybug, a familiar insect to both adults and children alike. Despite its benign appearance ladybugs are fierce predators demolishing a plethora of insects that are considered to be garden pests. 

Enjoy our spring gardens and their wildlife

Cheers

Baz  

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A Walk through Victoria Park

14 Sep

A Walk through Victoria Park

 Dear Reader;

The little musk lorikeet has been hovering around the small opening in the trunk of a red gum for a few minutes. Suddenly another lorikeet appears and disappears down into the tree. They are obviously nesting here. I walk closer to the tree and listen. From deep inside I can hear the plaintive calls of the young chicks demanding food.

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Musk lorikeet

 I am walking around the old Victoria Park Racecourse which is now a recreation area bounded by gracious old houses, a creek, walking trails and stands of massive old gums as well as a variety of native shrubs and bushes. It is a wonderful space for people to enjoy a bike ride, walk or run, exercise their dog off lead or even fly model planes.

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Historic old racecourse stand

 

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Avenue of gums on the western perimeter

 From the car park at the south western edge of the park I take the path towards Greenhill Road which winds through a copse of massive old gums and thick tangles of bushes. There are white cheeked rosellas high in the branches and one pair seem to be staying close to a hollowed out limb some 10 metres above the ground. I’ll come back at another time and see if they have chosen it for a nesting site.

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Huntsman spider in bark crevice

 To get a better idea of the bird life I decide to spend a little time sitting quietly on a fallen log deep amongst the trees and bushes. Unfortunately or fortunately depending on how you look at it, the aforementioned log is also home to a large huntsman spider that scuttles for cover as my ‘butt’ approaches.

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White cheeked rosella

While the spider and I share our seating arrangements, a wide range of birds including- miners, mudlarks, crows, magpies and galahs-are active in the scrub around me. Wonderful for a photographer to capture some images; not so good for a spider who features on many of their menus.

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Police greys

Bidding adieu to ‘Boris’, I continue along the pathway. To my delight, my final encounter is not with native wildlife but a pair of police greys being ridden through the parklands.

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Spiny wattle variety with feeding fly

 Spend some time in our parklands during the spring. It really is the best time to enjoy the wildlife.

 

Cheers

Baz

Zoo Portraits

2 Sep

Zoo Portraits

Dear Reader;

The pool is not huge, no place for the third largest land animal on Earth to hide. But in truth, it is hard to see the animal with only its tiny eyes ears and nostrils breaking the surface of the water. Suddenly the massive head emerges and the hippo’s immense jaws open, revealing broken tusk-like teeth. The teeth are used for duelling and protection rather than feeding on the soft grasses it prefers. I had to re-visit the hippo enclosure several times to make this image.

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Open wide

It is a cold windy day with showers forecast. Not the kind of weather that makes for good nature photography in the field. So, I have decided to spend the morning at the Adelaide Zoo and set myself a photographic task; to capture half a dozen portrait images of mammals. I apologize for temporarily abandoning my usual theme of South Australian wildlife but an occasional foray into the world of exotic species is a nice change.

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Juggler

 Asian small-clawed otters are social animals that live in the rivers, marshes and estuaries of South East Asia. They are the smallest of all otter species and their name refers to the tiny claws that extend beyond their partially webbed feet. These intelligent little predators are extremely agile in the water twisting and turning in sinuous, fluid movements as they hunt for prey that includes crustaceans, molluscs and fish. The zoo group is a family and the mother ‘Boo’ can often be seen juggling small pebbles, just one example of their playful disposition and an ideal image to capture.

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A little timid

 White-cheeked gibbons are small, tree living apes that inhabit the rain forests of Vietnam, Laos and southern China. Habitat loss has made them critically endangered. Breeding these beautiful primates in captivity is one way to ensure that their species does not completely disappear from our planet. Male white-cheeked gibbons are black with splashes of white on their faces. Babies of both sexes are always golden/white then change to black with the females regaining the light colouring when they reach maturity at around five years. The image of the infant peering around its mother’s body seems to exemplify the vulnerability of these endangered animals.

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Contemplating life

Gibbons might be apes but mandrills are monkeys. Monkeys have longer faces, tails in most cases, and often move on all fours with their more dog shaped bodies. Mandrills are one of the largest and most colourful monkey species. They live in the rainforests and wooded savannahs of Africa and like their baboon cousins have enormous canine teeth capable of challenging predators. They will deter leopards in defence of their groups called hordes which can number in the hundreds. Like all primates (apes, monkeys, lemurs and a few others) they are an intelligent, social species and the rather wistful look on this female’s face reflects this. 

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Life’s tough

It would seem inappropriate not to include one South Australian species in my collection of mammalian portraits but neither kangaroos, wombats, Tasmanian Devils, possums or even the usually photogenic koalas were particularly cooperative. When I had all but given up hope I came across a snoozing Australian sea lion with apparently not a care in the world. A photo opportunity not to be missed.

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Piercings

  My final image of the world’s largest rodent, the capybara, an inhabitant of the Amazonian rainforests, highlights the ways that zoos approach their captive stock. To monitor animal health, breeding status, age and many other characteristics it is necessary to track them individually. Where animals are numerous, hard to handle or distinguish and for many other reasons visible tags are one useful tool.

 Come visit our Z00

Cheers

Baz  

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