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Spotted Doves or Pics from my final days in isolation

18 May

Spotted Doves

Dear Reader:

There are many ways to experience the natural and urban environments that we South Australians are lucky enough to have at our disposal. One technique that I have employed, in these days of isolation, is to focus on one animal for a period of time and try to explore some of its behaviours. For obvious reasons, it is best to choose a species that is common to your area. By watching it closely you might discover some interesting traits that you have never noticed before and probably come up with some questions regarding these behaviours.

 

Lovely markings

 

Each morning I scatter out seeds for the Spotted Doves that frequent the trees surrounding my garden. Over the years I have watched them nest, raise their chicks, avoid predators and engage in a variety of mating and chasing behaviours across my back lawn.

 

Live and Let Live

 

On the subject of predators; the back yard is the domain of my very old Abyssinian cat who, in years gone by, made sure that few birds settled on the lawn during his watch. Although curtailed by a harness and length of nylon cord he was still able to generate enough speed and leaping power to scare any bird that transgressed into his territory. Today, not so fast, and the doves know it and feed close to him. The occasional sortie in their direction is met with a flap of wings to gain some height then a quick return to the ground and feeding.

 

My Turf

 

Off you go

Just one more piece of seed

Sometimes, when feeding one dove will dominate the area charging at the others and seeing them off. However, the victims of this avian bullying quickly return and the perpetrator seems to expend more energy and get less seed than they do. I suspect the perps are males, enough said.   

 

Necessary maintenance

 

Another interesting Dove behaviour is resting in a sunny patch with one wing extended and feathers spread. Apparently, this helps the fine preening oil spread over the plumage and drives out parasites.

 

One of each kind

 

Spotted Doves are attractive birds that belong to the Columbidae family which includes pigeons. They are an introduced species. Several other kinds of birds belonging to this group are also quite common in the Adelaide area. They include: Feral pigeons or Rock Doves, Barbary or Turtle Doves and Crested Pigeons. These birds all have melodious calls and add to the diverse birdsong of our city.

 

 

Explore and enjoy your own environment and stay well and safe in these unusual times.

 

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.

See more South Australian stories and pictures in Weekend Notes

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

 I have recently spent time in Africa and the link below will allow you to enjoy images and field notes describing some of my encounters with the wonderful wildlife of Botswana and Zambia. I will try to attach a new image and notes each month.

https://wildlifemomentssa.blogspot.com

Coronablog 3 Watching the bird baths or how to pass the time in Corona Virus Isolation…Day 10

23 Apr

Coronablog 3 Bird Baths

 

Dear Reader:

I am not a huge fan of feral Pigeons or Rock Doves as they are more correctly named. However, as I am writing this piece there is a pair sitting quietly together in the bird bath just a few meters from my desk. They make rather a nice picture despite having to shoot through the windows which upon reflection could do with a clean. My excuse for the somewhat soft nature of the image.

 

Pigeon pair

 

We all have certain manufactured features in our homes and gardens that attract animals. It might be a vent in the wall that is home to a spider, a shed where geckos thrive or a wood pile that is home to ‘who knows what’. My focus today are the three bird-baths that sit amongst the shrubs in both my front and back gardens.

 

In I go

 

Shaking my feathery butt

It is late afternoon and the terracotta bird bath in the back garden is cloaked in shadow making photographs difficult. Even though the Nikon P900 that I use adapts well to the situation I must brace myself and make every effort to keep the camera still. A Blackbird lands on the lip of the bowl and steps gingerly in before taking a quick dip. A few moments later a New Holland Honeyeater follows suit.

 

I’ll just sit in the seed

 

As mentioned, there is also a birdbath in the front garden and that appears to attract a different set of customers. Both Spotted Doves and House Sparrows like to feed on the seeds I leave in a bowl that sits in the centre of the dish. And, I have spotted several White-plumed Honeyeaters drinking which is a treat as they rarely come into the yards.

 

In these long days of isolation, it is a pleasant distraction to sit quietly on the porch reading the paper with a cuppa and a camera watching the local bird life feeding, bathing, drinking and squabbling at my bird baths .

 

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.

 See more South Australian stories and pictures in Weekend Notes

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

 I have recently spent time in Africa and the link below will allow you to enjoy images and field notes describing some of my encounters with the wonderful wildlife of Botswana and Zambia. I will try to attach a new image and notes each month.

https://wildlifemomentssa.blogspot.com

Coronablog 2, Mellow Yellow or how to pass the time in Corona Virus Isolation… Day 7

20 Apr

Mellow Yellow

 

Dear Reader:

As mentioned in my previous post (Coronablog 1) I am in isolation and exploring the wonders of my own garden rather than exploring South Australia’s rural and wild destinations.

 

Garden on the day

 

Yellow flowers

 

I am wandering around the garden observing the variety of creatures that live in, on and around yellow flowers. Yellow being the predominate colour of blossoms this time of year; early autumn. It is a little overcast which is not the best for creating vivid images but the absence of shadow does have the advantage of not frightening the timid creatures that live amongst the blossoms.

 

Gerbera and beetle

 

My first sighting is a tiny black beetle that is crawling across the petals of a bright yellow Gerbera. It resembles a lawn beetle, but in all honesty, there are so many beetle species, it is hard to identify.

 

Tiny Flower Spider

Munching the blossoms

Lynx Spider

The African Daisy bush has always been home to a variety of invertebrates from spiders and flies to caterpillars, and today is no exception. There is a ‘late-in-the season’ Woolly Bear Caterpillar munching on a flower bud, a tiny Flower Spider perched on a petal and a larger Lynx Spider poised on another bud ready to pounce on any unsuspecting prey.

 

Hoverfly

 

While I have been working on the African Daisy I can see some hoverflies buzzing around the more common white and yellow or English Daisy bush. These remarkable little insects are garden friendly as their larvae eat aphids. The black and yellow colouring mimics wasps and is a useful form of defence. Their ability to hover in one place then zip sideways is interesting to watch.

As you can see; by simply picking a theme and using some observation skills you can pass some pleasant hours exploring an aspect of your garden.

 Enjoy the solitude

Stay safe

 Cheers

Baz

 

See more South Australian stories and pictures in Weekend Notes

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

 I have recently spent time in Africa and the link below will allow you to enjoy images and field notes describing some of my encounters with the wonderful wildlife of Botswana and Zambia. I will try to attach a new image and notes each month.

https://wildlifemomentssa.blogspot.com

Coronablog 1 Purple Haze or how to pass the time in Corona Virus Isolation… Day 3

17 Apr

Purple Haze

Dear Reader:

I am confined, isolated, restricted and not certainly going anywhere. I flew in from interstate a couple of days ago so its 14 days house and garden captivity. However, as the purpose of my blog has always been to encourage people to explore whatever natural areas are at their disposal it is time for me to challenge myself and discover what is happening in my own backyard. And today it is exploring the purple flowers that are blossoming in this late autumn season……hence the title. Apologies for anyone expecting some guitar lessons a la Hendrix.

 

Coffee by the Lantana

 

Perhaps the most prolific insect attracter I have in the garden is a miniature, purple Lantana that forms a border with the footpath. Sitting on a sleeper, that is part of the low retaining wall that encloses the lawn, I can watch the comings and going of a selection of creatures visiting the plant.

 

A White with Cream under-wing

 

Tiny ants crawl along the stems and there are small flies feeding on the blossoms. An interesting selection but something bigger would be easier to shoot. After around ten minutes a lovely Cabbage White lands on a flower to feed.

 

Lynx Spider

 

As is so often the case; focussing on one animal increases one’s general perception and I notice that on a leaf adjacent to the butterfly there is a small Lynx Spider, a tiny predator that hunts other small invertebrates.

 

White-Banded Dart

 

It has been a wonderful way to ‘while away’ a few hours and with lunch in mind I reluctantly stand up to make my way indoors. But, Like the late-night adverts, ‘wait there is more’. A pair of lovely little Darter Butterflies settle on the bush for a few seconds and the flexibility of my Nikon P900 saves the moment as I focus and shoot in one smooth movement without having to change any settings.

Cheers on day 4 of isolation

Baz

PS New Blog coming soon for Days 5/6

 

 See more South Australian stories and pictures in Weekend Notes

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

 I have recently spent time in Africa and the link below will allow you to enjoy images and field notes describing some of my encounters with the wonderful wildlife of Botswana and Zambia. I will try to attach a new image and notes each month.

https://wildlifemomentssa.blogspot.com

Sandra’s Back Garden

24 Oct

Sandra’s Back Garden

 Dear Reader:

Sometimes it is both a challenge and simply fun to take out a camera and explore the wildlife of a familiar patch of land…..and gardens are one of the best places to do this. A surprising amount of wildlife resides in our own gardens.  A close look might reveal anything from fascinating insects that live in our flower beds to nocturnal geckos sheltering in a shed.

Marbled Gecko…a nocturnal inhabitant

 

Probably a Katydid, a relative of crickets and locusts

 

Sandra lives in the hills face suburb of Tea Tree Gully and a variety of birds and other animals regularly visit her garden. Some, like possums and foxes, are nocturnal and only leave traces of their comings and goings. Others, like magpies and butterflies are around in the daylight hours making the far easier targets for a photographer.

 

Tabbi breakfast

 

Each morning after breakfast Sandra throws the remains of her Weetbix onto the back lawn. This daily offering is greatly appreciated by two of the local cats as well as a small group of Noisy Miners.

 

Young Noisy Miner

 

Later in the day an apple and an orange are ritually sacrificed on two nails driven into an old tree stump; Blackbirds, New Holland Honeyeaters and the occasional Rainbow Lorikeet enjoy these treats.

 

Blackbird takes a look around……..

                                                                 

 

 

 

 

….gets the apple

That about covers the back garden’s feeding program. None of the food is in sufficient quantities to interrupt the animals’ natural feeding cycles or harmful to their diet. However, it does make sitting under the back veranda with a cup of tea rather an interesting experience.

In another post I will explore the equally charming world of the front garden.

 Cheers

Baz

 See more South Australian stories and pictures in Weekend Notes

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

 I have recently spent time in Africa and the link below will allow you to enjoy images and text describing some of my encounters with the wonderful wildlife of Botswana and Zambia. I will try to attach a new image and notes each month.

Botanic Bats

28 Sep

Botanic Bats

Dear Reader:

I am walking along a small trail goes from the front of the Zoo on Frome Road, over a small bridge then around to the main entrance. Known as the ‘First Creek Botanic Garden’ walk it is planted out with a range of native shrubs which in turn attract both birds and insects. But today it is the Fruit Bats or Flying Foxes roosting in the nearby pines that I have come to observe and photograph.

 

Good EEEEvening

 

 During the day these Grey Headed Flying-Foxes roost among the pine trees that overhang the creek. At night they leave to forage far and wide on blossoms and fruits from a variety of sources including farmers’ orchards.

 

Getting comfy

 

Fruit bats are not endemic to our region but have migrated from the eastern seaboard where they are far more numerous. Despite being a nuisance to some fruit growers they are fascinating animals and well worth spending some time observing as they manoeuvre for position in the trees.

 

Eremophila species in garden

 

Come take a look and enjoy.

Cheers

Baz

 

Additional notes

This is an easy walk/drive which is quite suitable for families and seniors with public toilets, a cafe, parking and other facilities nearby. It is dog friendly.

 

See more South Australian stories on Weekend Notes

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

 I have recently spent time in Africa and the link below will allow you to enjoy images and text describing some of my encounters with the wonderful wildlife of Botswana and Zambia. I will attach a new image and notes to accompany each post.

https://wildlifemomentssa.blogspot.com

Dry Creek by the Junction

31 May

Dry Creek by the Junction

Dear Reader:

Yes, an ant is an ant, but in Australia some ants are just that little bit more! Inch ants or bulldog ants live up to their name and reputation. Solitary hunters that still live in communal nests they have a fearsome bite and relentless disposition. This one is hunting late on a cool autumn afternoon scouring a eucalypt trunk for prey. I watch carefully as it systematically probes under the bark for any hapless invertebrate that is sheltering or hibernating. Seeing a bulldog ant at this time of year seems strange, perhaps a late burst of warm weather woke the colony up. The vagaries of nature are always fascinating.

 

Bulldog ant hunting

 

I am exploring the section of Dry Creek which flows between the intersection of Grand Junction Road and Nelson Road through to Walkley’s Road. It can be accessed behind ‘The Junction’ shopping centre. The creek twist and turns along this part of its length and is bordered by walking and bike trails. There are some deep pools, a ford and a small footbridge which all facilitate wildlife viewing and photography. Throw in a nice bakery at the shopping area and you have the makings of a perfect walk.

 

Dry Creek

 

The little footbridge which spans the river is an ideal place to watch for wildlife. It is high on the banks and provides a good vantage point for peering into the treetops. Today it is the surface of the water that catches my attention. The tell-tale V shaped ripples of a water rat swimming across the creek are an unexpected bonus on my walk. I have rarely seen the elusive little rodents in Dry Creek and to know that they are present is quite a treat. Water rats or rakalis are a native species with a broad head, webbed feet and a white tip to the tail. They feed on aquatic insects, yabbies, molluscs, frogs and small fish.

 

Australian water rat swimming

 

 

 

Further along the path there is a break in the bushes and trees that envelop the sides of the creek and I can get good access to the water’s edge.  A little pied cormorant is sitting on a log directing its gaze into a long pool before continuing to hunt amongst the reeds along the water’s edge. On my walk back I see the same bird with its wings outstretched drying them between forays into the creek to hunt. Cormorants do not have waterproofing oils to protect their plumage like some waterbirds and therefore must continually dry out their feathers.   

 

 

little pied cormorant

 

Near one of the fords there are some massive river red gums shading the creek bed and I can hear the raucous screech of lorikeets in the highest branches. A quick look through the telephoto lens helps me to identify them as musk lorikeets. These social little birds seem to have found something to feed on in the canopy. There are no blossoms on the trees so I can only assume that it is some form of insect life.

 

Musk lorikeet

 

My walk has been most rewarding as I have encountered a wide range of animals from aquatic mammals and predatory insects through to brightly coloured parrots in the treetops. Only the bakery to go and I can mark today down as more than a little successful.

 

Cheers

Baz

 

Additional notes

This is an easy walk which is quite suitable for families and seniors with food outlets, parking and other facilities nearby.

 

 I have recently spent time in Africa and the link below will allow you to enjoy images and text describing some of my encounters with the wonderful wildlife of Botswana and Zambia. I will attach a new image and notes to accompany each post.

https://wildlifemomentssa.blogspot.com

Apex Park….. A noisy walk on an autumn evening

3 Apr

Apex Park….. A noisy walk on an autumn evening

 Dear Reader:

I can hear the bird chirping deep in the reeds that surround the waterway. Pointing the long lens towards the sound I scan the thick tangle of bulrushes; nothing! Then I catch the slightest movement deeper in, closer to the water. Success, I squeeze the shutter release and smile inwardly. Reed warblers are hard to see at the best of times and this is only the second image I have captured. Reviewing it on the screen I notice that the bird has its beak open. ‘Yes’, my reed warbler is warbling.

 

Reed warbler

 

I am walking around a lovely little wetland called Apex Park, just off Sir Donald Bradman Drive near the airport. Having grabbed a bite to eat at the Ikea store, along with a few items for my studio, I have parked in alongside the little pond and am taking a slow walk around the tracks and boardwalks that surround it.

 

General view

 

Viewing platform

My next stop is a viewing platform close to a long dead tree that seems to be providing a good vantage point for a cormorant and several resting swallows. As I steady the camera a young willie wagtail lands on a skeletal branch and starts to sing. It seems to be a day for birdsong; nice theme for a series of images.

 

Willie wagtail

 

Geese

And the world of bird acoustics does not seem to be letting up. A pair of geese cruise across the water honking as they paddle and the musk lorikeets high in a eucalypt by the water’s edge are making ‘one hell of a racket’.

 

Galahs

 

When I get back to my starting point I sit alongside the pond and enjoy a moments silence, and it is a moment for right on cue a pair of galahs start to squabble over a nesting hole. 

Cheers

Baz

Additional information

This is quite a short walk with no steep gradients. There are toilets, a playground, benches and shelter in the vicinity.

Patowolonga’s Cormorants

1 Dec

Dear Reader:

It is a glorious spring day, not a breath of wind to ruffle the placid expanse of water that stretches out in front of me. By the breakwater there is a gathering of little black cormorants paddling alongside the rocky barrier. Every few minutes, one of the birds dives and swims out into the deeper water to hunt. Cormorants use both wings and feet to navigate underwater. Their aquatic speed and agility combined with specially adapted eyes and serrated beaks make them formidable fishers.

1-red

Black cormorant

2-red

Black cormorant diving

 

I am walking around the Patawolonga from Glenelg towards the first road and foot-bridge. This man-made lake extends between Glenelg and West beach for around 1.5 kilometres and serves as a flood mitigation system. The area also incorporates a berths for larger boats and lock that lead on to Holdfast Shores Marina an upmarket, shopping, restaurant and residential complex.

3-red

View from the bridge

 

When I reach the bridge there is a spectacular view back down the lake towards Glenelg that takes in the old replica ship The Buffalo which brought some of South Australia’s first colonists and governor ashore. The extensive grassed areas that run alongside ‘The Pat’ are shaded by eucalypts and Norfolk pines which attract a wide range of common urban birds. Today there are numerous crested pigeons foraging in the grass as well as wagtails and swallows demonstrating their sophisticated aerial acrobatics as they hunt for insects nearer the water.

4-red

Crested pigeon

 

From the western end of the bridge I walk back towards Glenelg along the edge of the marina. There are several fishermen casting for bream and I stop and chat with them. Apparently a small pod of dolphins has been in the area over the last few days. Not great for fishing but wonderful for those who simply enjoy the wildlife. The rocks along this part of the Patawolonga have a healthy cover of small molluscs and occasionally I catch sight of small schools of baitfish in the shallows.

5-red

periwinkles at low water

 

The path stops near a dive shop and I have to walk around the lake past neatly kept houses. When I reach the lock I can see dozens of swallows hawking insects. A few have settled on the glass and steel partitions that enclose some of the nearby units to rest for few minutes before resuming their hunting sorties.

6-red

resting swallow

 

The lock is not being used by any of the local boaties and I am able to walk across to finish my circuit of the lake, watched intently by yet another cormorant. This time it is a pied cormorant, perched high on a railing. The bird is drying its wings before it too dives back into the water for lunch while I head for nearby Jetty Road with similar intent.

7-red

Pied cormorant drying wings on lock

 

 

Cheers

Baz

 

Additional notes

This is an easy walk which is quite suitable for families and seniors with public toilets, barbecues, parking and other facilities nearby.

Blackwood’s Wittunga Botanic Park

12 Nov

 

Blackwood’s Wittunga Botanic Park 

Dear Reader:

There is a rainbow lorikeet around fifty metres away from me. The excitable little bird has inverted its body to dip its feathery tongue into a tube shaped eremophila blossom.  Several other species of birds including new Holland honeyeaters and wattle birds are feeding in the same garden beds where there is a smorgasbord of flowers to choose from. Clever planting also attract a variety of butterflies which feed on the nectar and help to pollinate plants by transferring pollen.

 

1a2

Rainbow lorikeet feeding

 

I am walking around the Wittunga Botanical Gardens near Blackwood in Adelaide’s foothills, just a twenty minute drive from the CBD. The busy little township is nestled into bushland where koalas and myriad bird species are common visitors. There are several hotels, bakeries and restaurants in the area and the Belair National Park and Golf course make this an ideal day trip for city residents.

 

1c

Old church and soldiers’ memorial in Blackwood

 

Leaving the flower beds behind I venture down to the lake that is the central feature of the park. It is surrounded by massive gum trees and there are crows, honeyeaters and a kookaburra perched in some of the branches that overhang the water. But it is a tiny head that emerges from the lake that draws my attention as I watch a Macquarie short-necked turtle swim towards the shore. The side-plate sized reptile clambers up on to a fallen branch and positions itself to catch some warming sunlight.

 

3a

Central lake and gardens

 

1d-red-2-macqurie-short-necked-turtle

Macquarie freshwater turtle

 

2a

Pacific black ducks

At the end of a long cool, wet summer the lake is full of new life. I spot purple swamp hens tending their fluffy black chicks near the reed beds. Several species of frogs are calling; probably spotted marsh frogs and common froglets or perhaps a potty bonk. Two Pacific black ducks are preening their feathers near the water’s edge and Eurasian coots appear to be amorously pursuing each other further from the bank.

 

4a

Ra venfeeding, they are often mistakenly called crows

 

Various pathways meander around the lake and I choose one that cuts through a stand of massive red gums. A lone raven is strutting around the perimeter of one tree pecking at the bark which is cracked and sloughing off the trunk. The bark of most eucalypts is an important environment for many smaller animals. Insects and spiders find shelter and breed there while larger predators such as birds and lizards find it a fertile hunting ground.

 

5a

Koala portrait shot

 

Having enjoyed a pleasant walk around the lake while indulging my passion for both wildlife and plants in general I walk back to the car park by way of a small stand of gums that run along the northern edge of the gardens. They are the kind of trees that might be attractive to koalas and I know that these endearing marsupials are common in the Blackwood area. Sure enough, there is one wedged between two branches in what I can only describe as the perfect koala portrait pose; a nice way to finish my walk.

 

1b-red-lesser-wanderer

Lesser-wanderer butterfly

 

Enjoy our city and suburban parks in spring as they really are some of the best in the world.

Cheers

Baz

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