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Meadows to Cox Scrub along Bull Creek Road

15 May

White-cheeked Rosella

Dear Reader:

There is a layby just a 400 meters along Bull Creek Road which starts just outside Meadows on the road to Ashbourne. It is a unique viewing point as the road also passes through a cutting which exposes the root systems of a large eucalypt. The layby overlooks a steep hillside providing a direct line of sight into the canopies of the surrounding trees. I can hear Rosellas and ravens calling and a quick sweep with the telephoto lens reveals a White-cheeked Rosella perched on a branch. While I concentrate on the bird a Little Raven lands by the roadside to scavenge on the carcass of a road-kill possum.

Cutting with exposed roots

Little Raven

I continue along the road for a further 400 meters to another layby which has quite a different outlook. A small section of bush is fenced off and surrounded by grazing land. High in the sky, I notice the circling motion of a large raptor. Once again, the amazing 83x magnification of my Nikon P900 comes to the fore and I recognise the bird as a Wedge-tailed Eagle, Australia’s largest bird of prey.

Wedge-tailed Eagle

My next deviation from the main road is a right hand turn into Ushers Road, a dirt track 3.7 Kms further on from the last layby. The road follows a creek surrounded by open farmland. There are Fairy Wrens and sparrows flitting across it. I catch a glimpse of a hare racing across the paddocks and some Galahs are feeding in the distance. As my main objective is Bull Creek Road’s wildlife I travel just a short distance before returning to the main road.

Creek bed and open pasture

Superb Fairy Wren

Around 7 kms from Ushers Road, is the little hamlet of Ashbourne which features a lovely old church and the iconic Greenman Inn. The building dates from 1865 when it was a general store and post office. Today, the Greenman is a contemporary establishment with country charm and a pub style menu sourced from local produce. It is both family and pet friendly. However, plan your drive carefully as the Greenman is closed on a Mondays and Tuesdays.

Greenman at Ashbourne

Little Corellas

Ashbourne is characterised by some massive eucalypts and pine trees sitting alongside the inn and church. As I wander around the area I can hear the raucous calls of Little Corellas and Galahs and it doesn’t take too long to find and photograph both species of parrot.

Pair of Common Brown butterflies

Bridge over Finniss River

Two kilometres beyond Ashbourne, the Finniss River is crossed by an historic Bridge which was constructed in 1865. There is a little water in the river and I climb down the bank careful not to lacerate myself on blackberry bushes. A White-faced Heron takes flight and several Little Ravens retreat high into high the canopy of the River Gums growing alongside the Finniss. As I make my way back up to the car I notice several brownish butterflies and with a little patience and some luck I manage to photograph a pair.

Turn around destination at Cox Scrub

The final destination for this part of my drive lies another 3.5 kilometres past the bridge. Cox Scrub Conservation Park is an area I have written about previously (see link below). There is a car parking area surrounded by trees and I notice a variety of tiny birds flitting around. I use the telephoto to track them and recognise Striated Pardalotes, Silvereyes and Weebills but they are too small and fast to capture with a camera. Perhaps another day when I have more time.

Grey Fantail

Through the scrub I can see a small clearing with some fallen tree trunks nearby. I sit for a while and watch the birds and eventually a Grey Fantail comes close enough to photograph. A nice way to end this part of my Bull Creek Drive and the car park is as safe place to swing round and head back to the city.          

Cheers

Baz

Additional notes

Cox Scrub CP post

This is an easy drive which is quite suitable for families and seniors with amenities at Ashbourne and Meadows.

Please pass on this blog title and or contact information (URL) to any person or organisation with an interest in taking walks and enjoying wildlife in SA.

Click on this link and see more South Australian stories and pictures in my Weekend Notes articleshttps://www.weekendnotes.com/profile/651267/

Birdwood’s Cromer Conservation Park…….Part 2

11 Mar

Classic Cromer scrub

Dear Reader:

This is my second visit to the Cromer CP. Unlike my first wander around this unique patch of South Aussie scrub the immediate weather is not treating me in a kindly fashion with low clouds and mist forecast for the morning then clearing as the day progresses. Not great for detailed photography but it might add a different atmosphere to my images.

Roos in the fields

Close up shot from car

As I drive along the road from Birdwood I am forced to a stop to avoid a small group of Western Grey Kangaroos bounding in front of the car. They settle in a field and start to graze only looking up as I power down the window for a shot.

Thornbill species?

Treecreeper sp or Sitella sp

I enter the park from an unmarked gate on the far corner of the park about 1 km from the main entrance. A barely visible track runs into scrub which is dominated by two distinct types of eucalypts. The taller trees have smooth bark while the other’s is rougher and darker. There are small noisy birds flitting about in the canopy and despite the poor light I get a couple of shots at distance thanks to the extreme range of my Nikon P900. A bit of Photoshopping later suggests one is a variety of thornbill and the other a sitella or treecreeper species (any ID feedback would be welcome).

Cockies Galahs) in the mist

The track disappears after a few hundred metres and just where it peters out there is a small mound surrounded by old, rusted fencing. I take a closer look and discover, what appears to be,  a well or perhaps mine digging. There are several smaller unfenced depressions in the area and in one I catch a glimpse of a Blue Tongue Lizard just before it quickly disappears into the undergrowth. The sudden movement startles a pair of Galahs perched high above me. Despite the poor light I manage to capture a rather atmospheric image of the parrots.

Unknown skink species possibly a slider

To my delight the sun is starting to burn off the low cloud and blue skies allow for faster shutter speeds and more depth of field. I decide to turn my attention to the smaller animals inhabiting the park. Under a fallen log, I discover a plethora of life; roaches, a centipede plus a lovely striped skink, possibly a slider species. It has tiny legs and a long slender body for living in the leaf litter and under rocks and fallen branches. Further examination of the shot reveals a small spider by its tail.

Bakery delights at Birdwood

It is time to leave the park on this, my second visit, but I shall return in spring to witness the emergence of delicate wildflowers, birds building nests and roos breeding. Now it is time to obey the urges of my stomach clock and enjoy the calorific delights of the local bakery. So much to choose from but my walk in Cromer Conservation Park might justify my indulgence.     

Cheers

Baz

Additional notes

This is an easy walk which is quite suitable for families and seniors but care must be taken because of the pristine nature of the scrub and the possibility of snakes in the warmer months.

Please pass on this blog title and or contact information (URL) to any person or organisation with an interest in taking walks and enjoying wildlife in SA.

Click on this link and see more South Australian stories and pictures in my Weekend Notes articles

https://www.weekendnotes.com/profile/651267/

Birdwood’s Cromer Conservation Park… Part 1

26 Feb

Cromer Conservation Park… Part 1

Dear Reader:

Red and Pink Gums as well as Long Leafed Box trees tower above me. They echo with birdsong which ranges from the twittering of finches and pardalotes to the raucous calls of lorikeets. My Nikon P 900 has a phenomenal telephoto and I use it to scan the treetops in the hope of identifying the birds and capturing an image or two.

Eventually I spot a Red Wattlebird and a Musk Lorikeet close enough to photograph. The silhouette of the wattlebird calling is a particularly pleasing image. While I continue to search the foliage for a makeable shot I watch a pair of Adelaide Rosellas flit between trees and high above me a kestrel is circling.

My destination today is the Cromer Conservation Park about 5 Kms from Birdwood. This small, fenced off section of bush is all that remains of the original scrub that once blanketed this part of the ranges. As such, it is an important repository of endemic plant and animal species. Indeed, over 100 bird species have been recorded in the park and I am sure plant and invertebrate tallies would also be high.

As I walk slowly along the main pathway near the boundary fence I notice another faint track winding into the scrub. I step cautiously and stop to listen every few paces. There is a rustle in the bush a dozen metres ahead and a Western Grey Kangaroo suddenly appears. We both freeze. I slide the Nikon up the rapid release strapping to eye level and take a wide angle shot for context then a close-up. The second click of the camera alerts the roo which swivels its ears, looks in my direction, then bounds away.

The sun is well up, the day is warming and with a rise in temperature the sounds of the scrub also change. Cicadas start to buzz and Fairy Wrens twitter in and around the grass trees which seem to be the centre of their territories. My morning walk is almost over therefore I decide to focus on the smaller plants and animals surrounding me. Although it is late summer there are still a few plants in bloom. The delicate, little Flax Lilies growing along this trail catch my attention. However, my final image for today is of a tiny speckled spider living under the bark of a long dead gum tree…….to be continued

Cox Scrub Conservation Park’s Wildlife…..Part 2 From Ridge and Bull Creek Roads

7 Feb

 

Track near Ridge Road entrance to Cox Scrub

Dear Reader:

After my initial foray into Cox Scrub from Coles crossing, today, I am entering the park from Ridge and Bull Creek roads. The Ridge Road entrance leads me to a long straight track which separates nearby farmland from the park. The scrub here is thick and quite difficult to penetrate. I can hear the chirping of wrens and other small birds but they are hard to spot and constantly moving.

 

Classic Cox Scrub vegetation

I employ a sit and wait strategy. The trick is to find a comfortable place with a good view of the surrounding area and not too many bushes and trees in line of sight. A tough ask as the sun must be in the right direction; silhouettes and side lit animals do not make great pictures.

 

Heliotrope Moth on melaleuca blossom

Having chosen a spot alongside a flowering Melaleuca tree I make sure my Nikon P900 is on a moderate telephoto setting. I might only get a split   second to make a shot with no time to zoom in closer. I am trying for bird images however I also stay tuned to the close undergrowth and bushes listening for a tell-tale rustle of leaves or the hum of an insect. For the first ten minutes the only animals I encounter are invertebrates; a moth on the Melaleuca flowers and a dragonfly resting on the sandy soil. Eventually a scubwren lands in a nearby tree and a pair of Crested pigeons start foraging on in the understory. Sighting that make my wait worthwhile.

 

Scrubwren species

There are clouds moving in from the south west and I decide to drive to my next destination before I lose the light or it begins to rain. Several walking trails start at the Bull Creek entrance. The tracks are wide and easy to walk but the scrub is still quite dense with less large trees than the last track. A kilometre along the trail I find a clearing where there seems to be quite a lot of bird activity. It’s time for stop, sit and wait, again.

 

Golden Whistler

This time I am rewarded within a few minutes. A beautiful Golden Whistler perches in stubby eucalypt about twenty metres away. Its characteristic call (loud sharp whistles ending in a whip-crack note) echoes through the bush. The bird is quite active and I set the camera to shutter priority firing at 1/2000 th of a second. The clearing seems to attract a number of different bird species and I watch a pair of Grey Fantails hawking for insects before returning to a perch on a fallen branch. There are also kangaroo droppings and several termite nests have been ravaged by Echidnas.

 

Grey Fantail

Though I would like to stay for a few more minutes, the first drops of rain start to spatter on my jacket. I tuck my camera into its waterproof case and head back to the car. It is time for lunch, and the Mount Compass Bakery beckons. A chicken and vegetable pie with a custard tart to follow. A fitting end to my morning’s work.

Cheers

Baz

Additional notes

This is an easy walk/drive which is quite suitable for families and seniors.

Please pass on this blog title and or contact information (URL) to any person or organisation with an interest in taking walks and enjoying wildlife in SA.

Click on this link and see more South Australian stories and pictures in my Weekend Notes articles

https://www.weekendnotes.com/profile/651267/

Cox Scrub Conservation Park’s Wildlife…..Part 1. Entering from Coles Crossing

23 Jan

Old dairy building

Dear Reader:

It is a glorious day for a drive and some wildlife photography. The bitumen road winds past lush farmland and every so often I come across an old building that reminds me of the rich heritage this region of South Australia boasts. I keep a watchful eye out for kangaroos which are often seen grazing near stock and have been known to hop across the road even in the daylight hours. Rosellas and cockatoos fly between the eucalyptus trees fringing the road. I stop to capture an unusual image of two Galahs feeding on an embankment behind a barbed wire fence.

 

Galahs on embankment

I am exploring the Cox Scrub Conservation Park which is around an hour’s drive south of Adelaide’s CBD near Mt Compass and Ashbourne. It is one of the largest parks on the Fleurieu Peninsula. The park has numerous walking trails cutting through stands of Stringy Barks and a dense understory of Banksias and many other native shrubs. There are several entrances to the park and today I am starting at Cole’s Crossing where the Finniss River cuts through the north western perimeter of the conservation park.

 

Coles Crossing

He Coles Crossing track ends at a ford which is too deep to cross in the SUV but a great place to stop and eat lunch. There are small fish in the river and quite a lot of macroinvertebrates (tiny aquatic invertebrates like water boatmen and pond skaters) in the shallow water by the reeds. Several butterfly species are settling amongst exposed sand and pebbles to drink and I can see a Kookaburra perched on a dead tree branch about a hundred metres downstream.

 

Painted Lady

I follow a fence-line which skirts the river. There are numerous small birds twittering in the reeds and high in the canopy of the massive River Gums which tower over the water. I use the extreme telephoto on my Nikon P900 as a bird spotting tool then manage to get a half decent shot of a small honeyeater-like bird which I later identify as a Brown-headed Honeyeater (note to readers…please correct me if I am wrong with this ID).

 

Brown-headed Honeyeater

It has been interesting just pottering around the crossing but I want to enter the park from a different direction and see if there is any variation in the terrain and wildlife. However, that will be my next blog ‘Cox Scrub CP from Ridge and Bull Creek Roads’

Cheers

Baz

Additional notes

This is an easy walk and drive which is quite suitable for families.

Please pass on this blog title and or contact information (URL) to any person or organisation with an interest in taking walks and enjoying wildlife in SA.

Click on this link and see more South Australian stories and pictures in my Weekend Notes articles

https://www.weekendnotes.com/profile/651267/

Rainbow Parrots……..1

2 Aug

As well as continuing to write posts describing South Australia’s best natural and urban destinations and their associated wildlife; I will be posting some shorter pieces focussing entirely on one species or idea.

Dear Reader:

I am sitting on the front porch watching the street’s wildlife. There are a few New Holland Honeyeaters hawking for insects and a small group of Crested Pigeons congregating on the newly mown nature strip. Always a good time to look for food. But it is the brightly coloured Rainbow Lorikeets in the Hackberry Tree opposite that really catch my attention as they balance on the thin branches to feed on the small, dark berries. 

Hackberries for dinner

These energetic little parrots do not feed quietly; they squawk and chatter to each other as they bounce, balance and flutter amongst the foliage in search of the ripest fruit. And, while these birds feed on the Hackberries another group are tucking into the last blooms of my flowering gums in the backyard.

Blossoms for desset

Rainbow Lorikeets (Trichoglossus haematodus) are smallish parrots with around 30 cms in length wih a wingspan around 40 cms. Their main foods are blossoms, nectar, seeds, fruit and sometimes insects. They have brush like tongues for collecting pollen and sharp beaks capable of biting into fruit and crushing seeds. Rainbow Lorikeets are often considered a nuisance by people who have fruit trees in their yards.

Cheers

Baz

Please pass on this blog title and or contact information (URL) to any person or organisation with an interest in taking walks and enjoying wildlife in SA.

Click on this link and see more South Australian stories and pictures in my Weekend Notes articles

https://www.weekendnotes.com/profile/651267/

Charleston Conservation Park……Coming Back from a Burn

1 May

Dear Reader:

Despite the blackened and scarred bush there are glimmers of hope in the landscape. Grass trees can survive the worst of the worst bushfires and some Banksias and other native species need fire to regenerate successfully. And, where there are plants the animals follow. Sitting atop the burnt spire of a grass tree (Xanthoria sp) I notice a female Superb Fairy Wren and my companion David points out a Male in full breeding plumage. Wildlife amongst the devastation.

Superb Fairy Wren male….photo by David Morris
Superb Fairy Wren female

I am exploring the Charleston Conservation Park, on Bell Springs Road in the Adelaide Hills about 7 Kms north of Lobethal and near the little town of Charleston. This small park of 54 hectares and bounded by open farmland on all sides, was devastated by recent bushfires but it is starting to show signs of re-vegetation. It is both sad and fascinating to walk around the park and look at the new life that is emerging amongst the burnt trees and undergrowth. However, the open, burnt bushland makes it easy to see animals though they are scarce, wary and hard to photograph. If you visit take a camera with a good telephoto.

Track along the park perimeter

We follow the track which runs around the edge of the park. It is separated from the surrounding farmland by a fence with a few surviving trees and bushes along the perimeter. In the distance I spot a mob of kangaroos feeding alongside cattle. These animals would have inhabited the park before the bushfires and will again as the understory and scrub develops, providing them with food and shelter.

Mob on the fenceline

A few hundred meters along the primary track that circumnavigates the park we take a smaller trail leading to a rocky outcrop. David stops abruptly and points, “Snake and it’s a big one, just a few metres in front of me.“ I can just make out the shape as it slides into a gap between the rocks; a sizeable Red Bellied Black Snake. Time to be a little more cautious in our movements. Later, we encounter another large Red-bellied Black on the gravel path. This snake is remarkably relaxed and we are to get some decent close-up images.

Snake ahead….enlarge and look at centre below and left of large rock
Red-bellied Black Snake

Further along the main track I notice numerous Monarch Butterflies landing on plants growing near the fence line. I focus on one of the insects while David point out a pair of Yellow-faced Honeyeaters feeding in a native pine.

Yellow -faced Honeyeater……photo David Morris
Monarch or Wanderer buterfly

Quite unexpectedly we hear the strident sound of Laughing Koookaburras. A pair has landed in a badly burnt eucalypt. They look surreal against the devastated background. Getting close enough to photograph them in this open environment is difficult; finally I settle for a long distance shot stretching my Nikon P900 to its limits.    

Laughing Kookaburras

Nodding Vanilla Lily

There are many signs of life emerging in the blackened landscape including: mosses, lily flowers, and patches of, what appear to be, acacia plants. Only time will tell how much the new environment will reflect the past as many non-native species will quickly colonise the vacant spaces; most notably grasses and windblown weeds. However, with some help from park rangers and volunteers this small area of remnant bushland may be able to regain much of its former beauty.   

Cheers

Baz

Additional notes

This is an easy walk and drive which is quite suitable for families and seniors. It is not dog friendly due to its status as a a conservation park.

Please pass on this blog title and or contact information (URL) to any person or organisation with an interest in taking walks and enjoying wildlife in SA.

Click on this link and see more South Australian stories and pictures in my Weekend Notes articles

https://www.weekendnotes.com/profile/651267/

Secretive South Aussies

1 Mar

Dear Reader:

The diminutive birds look like mottled balls of feathers darting through the undergrowth. It is time to just sit and wait until one settles long enough to let me focus and fire. A keeper arrives and spreads some mealworms across the floor of the enclosure. Temerity is temporarily discarded and the Stubble Quail come out of hiding to feed. The Birds still move quickly as they peck at the mealworms and I must switch the camera to shutter priority which I have permanently set at 1/2000 of a second on my P900.

 

Stubble Quail feeding

Virtually all the photographs for my posts and the books I write are taken ‘in the field’ at the location I am exploring. However, sometimes there are animals that I see, hear or find traces of, but cannot photograph. For some of these species, wildlife parks, museums and zoos are an invaluable resource. Today, I am collecting images from Cleland Wildlife Park in the Adelaide Hills near Crafers and Mount Lofty; about a twenty minute drive from Adelaide’s CBD.

 

Inland Taipan

Near the exit and shop there is a building that houses nocturnal animals and a range of reptiles. Having gained permission to use limited flash photography, it can stress and annoy certain animals, I decide to target venomous snakes. When shooting through glass enclosures it is necessary to angle the flash to prevent the light from bouncing straight back into the lens. Luckily several of the snakes are active in their enclosures.

 

Eastern Brown Snake forked tongue protruding

In several decades of photographing wildlife I have seen very few venomous snakes and those I have encountered have been shy and almost impossible to photograph in any detail. Limiting my attempts because of the flash stress factor, I manage to get a couple of reasonable images of an Inland Taipan and an Eastern Brown Snake with its forked tongue protruding. The forked tongue that all snakes and monitor lizards possess, allows the reptiles to pick up tiny particles emitted by prey and determine direction and distance using a special feature known as the Jacobsen’s organ. The process is much the same as our two ears being set apart determining the direction of a sound based on the intensity and volume being different for each ear. By the way; snakes do not have ears but can feel vibrations through the ground.

 

Princess Parrot

South Australia has many beautiful bird species and it is often difficult to get near some of them in the wild. In addition, some species like Princess Parrots are quite rare or live in extremely remote areas. With this in mind, I stroll through one of the ‘walk-through’ aviaries in search of birds I have not previously encountered or photographed.

 

Ringtail Possum

Most South Australians know and recognise the common Brushtail Possums that frequent urban backyards and sometimes, to the dismay of residents, their roofs. It is the slightly smaller and endearing Ringtail Possum that is less often seen. To this end, I have arranged with an education officer to photograph the ringtail they use in lessons about our native marsupials. She carries the little marsupial out in a hessian sack and places it on a tree branch. I wait for the most natural pose and capture a couple of images.

With possum and possum image safely ‘in the bag’ it is time for lunch and a little retail therapy at the café and souvenir shop. The food is good and I am pleased to say that I find a copy of my last book ‘Discovering Adelaide’s Wildlife’, on the shelf. I never tire of Cleland and will return again in the cooler weather to add to my  ‘hard to get’ wildlife, photographic collection.  

Cheers

Baz

Additional notes

These images were taken using a Nikon Coolpix P900 camera

This is an easy excursion which is quite suitable for families and seniors with public toilets, parking, restaurant and other facilities on site.

Please pass on this blog title and or contact information (URL) to any person or organisation with an interest in taking walks and enjoying wildlife in SA.

Click on this link and see more South Australian stories and pictures in my Weekend Notes articles

https://www.weekendnotes.com/profile/651267/

Hannaford Hump Drive

2 Dec

Dear Reader:

I leave the bitumen and continue along a well graded, unsealed road. A landscape of rural pasture and scrub borders the dirt road overhung by tall eucalypts. I stop on the verge and scan the trees with my long lens. While I search for wildlife visually, I hear the faint thumping call of a Common Bronzewing. It takes a few minutes to locate the bird but I eventually find it perched on a branch just in camera range.

 

Common Bronzewing

I am taking a late afternoon drive along the quirkily named Hannaford Hump Road which branches off One Tree Hill Road north east of the roundabout junction with Golden Grove Road in the suburb of Greenwith. Hannaford Hump then becomes Airstrip Road which leads to the sealed Mt Gawler Road. Both Hannaford Hump and Airstrip Roads are surrounded by large areas of accessible scrub and rural countryside dotted with small properties and farms.

 

Roadside bush

A little further along Hannaford Hump Road I park the car and walk along one of several fire tracks that lead into the Mount Crawford Forest Reserve. The well maintained track is skirted by dense scrub dominated by low growing gums, acacias and a variety of native bushes, grasses and ground covers….a botanist’s dream.

 

Fire track entrance

Flax-Leafed Logania

I walk a kilometre along the track stopping frequently to listen for bird calls. In this bushland setting it is best to let the wildlife come to you as animals are wary of anything that appears to be stalking them. I catch sight of numerous wrens, finches and other small birds darting between bushes but photographing them is nigh on impossible. Eventually a pair of Adelaide Rosellas perch on a dead branch at extreme camera range and I take the shot steadying the camera against a tree trunk. The vibration reduction in my Nikon P900 works well and I get a passable result considering the distance and fading light. 

 

Adelaide Rosellas

Further along the road I stop at another fire track. This one is flanked by even denser bush and some taller shrubs and gums as well as a smattering of grass trees. I find a narrow opening in the scrub and walk in about twenty metres then sit quietly. Small birds are flitting between branches but they are hard to line up. Eventually one settles close enough to get a clear shot. Later I determine it to be a thornbill species; probably a Red Striated Thornbill.

 

Striated Red Thornbill…probably

Evening is closing in and the light is making photography more challenging so I turn for home and watch the other, more rural side of the road as I drive. Unexpectedly, I notice some kangaroos feeding in the long grass. When I stop to take a shot I catch sight of a crow perched on a branch; perfectly silhouetted against the wheat coloured background.

 

Australian Raven

Western Grey Kangaroos in grassland

Small group (mob) of Western Grey Kangaroos feeding at dusk

It has been a really wonderful drive along this unusually named road so close to the suburbs yet rarely explored by the nearby residents. In fact there are many trails, tracks and roads throughout this part of the foothills that are worth exploring when you have a few hours to spare.

Cheers

Baz

Additional notes

This is an easy drive and simple walks, which are quite suitable for families and seniors.

Please pass on this blog title and or contact information (URL) to any person or organisation with an interest in taking walks and enjoying wildlife in SA.

See more South Australian stories and pictures in Weekend Notes

https://www.weekendnotes.com/profile/651267/

Kangaroo

7 Oct

Kangaroo 

Dear Reader:

This post differs from my usual offerings which tell stories with images about a specific area in South Australia and the wildlife I encountered. This time I am focussing on one group of animals and providing some information about each image and what it tells us about our most iconic group of animals….the Kangaroos.

A mob of Western Grey Kangaroos in Belair National Park

 

Red Kangaroo joey being fed on special formula at Adelaide Zoo

The name kangaroo comes from the *Guugu Yimithirr word for Grey Kangaroo and was first reported by Cook in 1770. Kangaroos are confined to Australasia. There are six different species of kangaroo; Antilopine Kangaroo, Black Wallaroo, Eastern Grey Kangaroo, Western Grey Kangaroo, Red Kangaroo and the Common Wallaroo or Euro. The latter three are abundant in South Australia.

Young Grey Kangaroo males boxing

Adult male Red Kangaroo portrait……Cleland Wildlife Park

 

Red Kangaroos are the largest of all the ‘Macropods’; a term that refers to all kangaroos and wallabies and means big footed. A large male can stands taller than a man and weigh up to 85 Kg. Females are smaller, blue, grey in colour and do not have such distinct facial markings. The above image was taken at the Cleland Conservation Park which specialises in indigenous wildlife.

Adult female Red Kangaroo and joey at heel in flight

 

Western Grey Kangaroos moving off slowly

One of the most interesting features of kangaroos is their bounding or hopping gait. As a kangaroo hops the tendons in its legs compress and elongate like springs storing and releasing energy more efficiently than the muscle movements that most mammals use. These remarkable marsupials also use their tails to balance at speed or as a third limb to help them move slowly.

Adult female Western Grey Kangaroo with joey in pouch

 

Reproduction in kangaroos is also remarkable. Like all marsupials, the young, called joeys, are born in an extremely immature state. They move from the birth canal to suckle in the pouch where they develop in the same way other mammals would develop inside their mother. Female kangaroos can be pregnant, have a tiny joey suckling while another one is ‘at heel’ clambering into the pouch to feed when necessary.

Feeding an adult male Red Kangaroo at Cleland Wildlife Park

 

 In the wild, kangaroos are wary animals. Their ears are multi-directional and they have a good sense of smell and sight. In addition, their speed, up to 60 kph, and jumping ability allows them to successfully evade most threats. However, in captivity they are relatively docile creatures which makes them ideal animals in wildlife parks. For a photographer this means it is relatively easy to get good portrait shots and photograph some of their more subtle characteristics such as: split grooming claws, facial patterns, dentition and even mating behaviours.

Western Grey Kangaroos in coastal environment

 

Euro…Flinders Ranges

Kangaroos are found throughout the South Australian landscape. The more robust Euros like the hill country of the Flinders Ranges where their thick fur protects them from falls and extremes in temperature. Red kangaroos prefer the more arid zones and extract moisture from plants and can survive over multiple dry seasons without drinking. Grey Kangaroos are ubiquitous and seem to inhabit the widest range of habitats from coastal heath to dense scrub.

Adult male Red Kangaroo near Whyalla, Eyre Peninsula

 

Over the millions of years and isolated from the rest of the world by continental drift Australia’s macropods have evolved perfectly to suit our harsh and rather unforgiving environment. Therefore, the next time you catch sight of a ‘roo’ take some time to ponder what a wonderful and unique animal it really is.

 

Cheers

Baz

 Additional notes

The majority of these images were captured using Canon EOS equipment and lenses.

*Guugu Yimithirr is the language of the indigenous people encountered by Cook while his ship was grounded and being repaired on the banks of the now Endeavour River after running aground on the Barrier Reef

 Please pass on this blog title and or contact information (URL) to any person or organisation with an interest in taking walks and enjoying wildlife in SA.

 See more South Australian stories and pictures in Weekend Notes

https://www.weekendnotes.com/profile/651267/

 

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