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Carrickalinga’s Underwater and Coastal Wildlife

7 Sep

Dear Reader:

The drive into Carrickalinga along Forktree Road from Myponga is quite spectacular with sweeping views of the ocean, reservoir and surrounding farmland. On entering the township, it is a short drive north along Gold Coast Drive to the rocky headland which can be easily accessed from the parking zone by a zig-zag series of wooden steps.

 

Driving in to Carrickalinga

Steps at the headland

This area is a sanctuary which means there should be quite a lot of marine life to encounter. I change into my snorkelling gear before walking down to the beach and survey a couple of entry points then photograph one of the many rockpools. The water is cold this time of year and even with a wet suit it takes a few minutes to adjust.

 

Old Wives under a ledge

Red Bait Crab

Visibility is good and I work my way along the shoreline which has numerous ledges and a healthy covering of algae as well as some encrusting invertebrates like sponges and sea squirts. A large Red Bait Crab peers at me from its position amongst some brown algae and there are numerous fish species in the seaweed and under the ledges. Within a few minutes I have seen over a dozen types including: leatherjacket species, Old Wives and Moonlighters.

 

Track along the hillside

Half an hour in the water is enough today. After a quick towelling down and a change of clothes (and camera) I decide to follow the narrow trail cut into the hillside and explore some more of this picturesque coastline.

 

Locust species possibly Plague Locust

Nankeen Kestrel Hovering

The wildlife above the water is not abundant as coastal vegetation does not provide a lot of food for animals. I manage to spot the occasional Singing Honeyeater and I can see a Nankeen Kestrel hovering near the top of the hillside. Quite a few grasshopper-like animals are taking flight from the undergrowth. A close up shot, and an ID book later at home, suggests they are probably Australian Plague Locusts.

 

Rockpools

The morning is almost over and as I walk back I look down on the beach and rockpools and the turquoise colour of the sea. Along the path, I notice some Crested Pigeons on an old fenceline, a murder of Crows in the distance and a lone Willie Wagtail fossicking close to the ground; probably after a locust snack. Which reminds me, it is time to head for the Normanville Bakery for a spot of lunch before I take a closer look at the township of Carrickalinga later in the afternoon.

Cheers

Baz

In a further post (Carrickalinga 2) will cover a walk around the township and along the beach.

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

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Port Elliot to Goolwa…A Wildlife Drive

20 Jul

Scrub and dunes between Coorong National Park and Goolwa Beach

Dear Reader:

A lone Silver Gull is perched on the parking sign next to the Flying Fish Café on Port Elliot’s picturesque Horseshoe Bay. Two hours should be more than enough for a fish and chips lunch while watching a few brave souls taking a dip in the chilly winter waters.

Parking restrictions…seagulls only

Across the bay, a fisherman is unfolding a chair and setting his lines for a leisurely afternoon’s angling. Perhaps he will catch a squid or some Flathead as we enjoy the same species on a plate and without the effort.

Horsehoe Bay’s old Jetty

I am taking a drive along the southernmost part of the SA’s lovely Fleurieu Peninsular between the towns of Port Elliot and Goolwa. This area is well known for fishing, surfing and whale watching in the winter months when Southern Right Whale migrate through these waters from the Southern Ocean.

Goolwa Beach and photographer

My next stop is Goolwa Beach, a long sandy stretch of several kilometres ending at the mouth of the Murray River. If the tides are right, I will be able to take my SUV onto the beach between sand hills and surf; a really rewarding experience. I am in luck and able to drive some distance towards the mouth. There are a few tiny waders dodging the surf while feeding on worms and other invertebrates beneath the wet sand but they quickly fly away as I get close enough for a shot. A pair of Pacific Gulls are more accommodating and I get a good series of images using full extension of the Nikon P900 zoom.

Fun in the surf…Pacific Gull style

About a kilometre along the beach there is a sign indicating a track that crosses the dunes ending up at the Coorong National Park near the Goolwa barrages which separate seawater from freshwater. This area is my next destination and I must drive back along the beach and skirt the town to reach the park.

Beach crossing to the barrages

The part of the Coorong National Park I am exploring is just past the barrages and consists of shallow mud flats, reed beds and small islets; an ideal collection of habitats for a wide range of aquatic birds. There are Black Swans in the distance, an unusual Musk Duck a couple of hundred metres offshore and a White-faced Heron hunting in the grasses and pools next to the road. Meanwhile, Singing Honeyeaters warble in the scrub between the park and the ocean beach which we were driving along just fifteen minutes earlier. However, the most exciting birds in the area are a couple of quite different raptor species which are swooping and hovering close to the shoreline. The larger bird is a Whistling Kite and the smaller, a female Nankeen Kestrel.

Singing Honeyeater not singing

Whistling Kite

Lunch and a couple of lucrative wildlife drives have made the day a success. However, the coastal town of Goolwa has many other attractions and I spend a further relaxing hour pottering around galleries and other small shops. To finish the day, I buy a bun and coffee at the Original  Goolwa Bakery on Dawson Street (established in 1912) before heading home via Strathalbyn and Mount Barker; two more SA towns with much to offer an enthusiastic nature photographer.

Goolwa’s Artworx Gallery

Cheers

Baz

Additional notes

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

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/

Port Victoria’s Coastal Drive…..Part 1

6 Jul

Rocky outcrop near Second Beach

 

Dear Reader:

A few years ago I spent several days with a close friend at Port Victoria fishing in the rich waters off Wardang Island.  Geoff and I caught whiting, snook and squid and even managed to locate a few abalone which made for quite a feast on the barbecue. Today, we are exploring Port Vic from the shoreline and discovering some of the amazing scenery and coastal wildlife the area has to offer.

 

Patient Pelicans

What’s for lunch???

 

The boat ramp where we set off on our fishing trips is now the haunt of a small group of Australian Pelicans. They also enjoy the fruits of these waters, congregating around returning boats to feed on discarded fish and bait.

 

Pacific Gull in flight

The local golf course sits alongside the ramp and extends south along the coast to our first destination, known locally as Rifle Butts Beach. There are rocky outcrops at each end of the beach and I watch Pacific Gulls and a lone Great Cormorant flying just above the waves. The dunes and beach are pristine and there is an information plaque explaining their ecology and importance.

 

Beach fishing

From Rifle Butts it is only a short distance along Conservation Drive to Second Beach where we stop at a sandy parking bay and watch a couple of fishers casting for Mullet and Salmon Trout. A small sign cautions us to look out for rare Hooded Plovers which nest on the beach; though I believe breeding season is now over. The beach is accessible to 4WD but today is just a first look and we have more distance to cover.

 

Startled Western Grey Kangaroo

We continue slowly along Conservation Drive with the windows open ready to stop and record any special wildlife encounters. There is low coastal scrub to the right and open paddocks with sheep and cattle to the left. Large flocks of Crested Pigeons are feeding in the fields. I brake suddenly and turn the wheel to get a good angle on a pair of Grey Kangaroos half hidden in the scrub. They immediately bound away and I manage a hurried shot of one roo as it disappears into the scrub.

 

Water behind the dunes

Path to the ocean

 

Our final stop is Wauraltee Beach. The parking area lies at the end of a sandy track near a windmill which taps freshwater from behind the dune system. A short trail leads up and over the primary dunes and ends with a spectacular panoramic view north and south along this magnificent yet secluded beach.

View south along Wauraltee Beach

 

From the top of the dunes, I can scan the bush for birdlife, kangaroos and even wombats which live in the area.  Today, I spot several Singing Honeyeaters, a kestrel hovering in the distance and what appears to be a pod of dolphins about 500 metres offshore. There are some small waders near the seaweed fringe but it is hard to identify them at this range.

 

Singing Honeyeater

It has been a wonderful reintroduction to Port Victoria and has left me with a strong desire to return and spend more time exploring today’s destinations in greater detail. And, to add even more incentive, there is an equally interesting track and walking trail heading north from the jetty towards Point Pearce.

Cheers

BAZ

About Port Gawler

1 Sep

Dear Reader:

For the rest of this year I will be posting occasional articles exploring some destinations along Adelaide’s coastline. They will include notes on: terrain, vegetation, common animals, history( First Nations and European) and other attractions. Port Gawler is the first in this series.

Introduction

Port Gawler is about 30 kms north-west of Adelaide’s CBD along Port Wakefield Road, Highway 1. The road from the main highway to Port Gawler has some fertile pastureland flanking it as well as mangrove and salt bush closer to the coast.

Fertile farmland on the drive into Port Gawler

 

Terrain

The seafront is dominated by Grey Mangroves with areas of samphire and low scrub alongside. An extensive beach area of shell grit and mud is exposed at low tide for hundreds of metres. Where the Gawler River meets the beach there is a channel. Seagrasses cover the sub-tidal region further out to sea. 

Samphire, saltbush and wetlands

Wildlife

Mangrove stands are important nursery areas for many recreational fish species such as King George Whiting, mullet species and Black Bream. Numerous marine snails, bivalves, crabs, sponges and other invertebrates live in the complex mangrove jungle and seagrass meadows. Butterflies, damselflies, dragonflies, mosquitoes and small spiders are common terrestrial invertebrates.

Masked Lapwing

Bird life in this area is prolific and includes many shore birds such as herons, oyster catchers, Black Swans, Cormorants, ibises, gulls and stilts as well as numerous migratory species including plovers and other small waders from as far away as Mongolia. Warblers, flycatchers and honeyeaters live in the dense foliage of the mangroves and are easy to recognise by their calls but hard to spot. The density of smaller birds also attracts some raptors including Nankeen Kestrels and Black-shouldered Kites. There are foxes, hares, lizards and snakes in the surrounding pasture and scrub. 

Nankeen kestrel hovering

 

Vegetation

The dominant plant in this region is the Grey Mangrove which grows close to the shore and extends into the shallow intertidal zone. The tubular structures that push through the mud are part of the root system called pneumatophores. They help the plant to absorb oxygen. Samphire, saltbush, pigface and other low growing hardy plants are found around the shoreline. Large amounts of seaweed are often washed up on the shore during the winter months. It is dead Posidonia or strapweed, a common sea grass along our coastline.

Grey Mangroves at low tide showing channel and pneumataphores

Mangrove fruits

History

First Nations

This was a rich area for the indigenous Kaurna people whose coastal lands stretched from Port Wakefield in the north to Cape Jervis in the south. They fished, hunted and collected shellfish and crabs from the estuary and used reeds for constructing a variety of products including fish nets and baskets.

Blue Crab

European settlement

Port Gawler was named in 1867 Governor Henry Young most likely for the earlier Governor, George Gawler. It was surveyed in 1869 and a large property of 4000 acres named Buckland Park was established along the river. The township and Lisbon Wharf became an important shipping point for grain and other produce with over 100 shallow draft ships called ketches taking their cargo to Port Adelaide. In 1920 fire destroyed the wharf and it was never rebuilt as a nearby rail link to Port Adelaide was constructed.

Remains of the old wharf system

Other notes e.g. attractions facilities

There is no township only a boat ramp, toilet block and shelter with interpretive information. Port Gawler marks the beginning of the Saphire Coast, a shallow mangrove and mud flat dominated stretch of coastline incorporating the Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary-Winaityinaityi PangkaraThere is a nearby off-road hire park for 4WD, motor bikes and go-carts. Bird watching, fishing are popular along this part of the coast. From September to April, large numbers of Blue Crabs are caught in the shallows.

I hope you enjoyed this description and plan a visit to Port Gawler in the near future. Next month’s blog I will return to my personal account style. Until then…..enjoy and protect the natural world and all it offers.

Cheers

Baz

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

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/

 

Winninowie National Park and Chinaman’s Creek

3 Sep

Winninowie National Park and Chinaman’s Creek

Dear Reader:

The track to Winninowie National Park comes off the main highway between Port Germein and Port Augusta. Low flat scrub borders the road on both sides with the coast in front and the Flinders Ranges foothills behind. Barbed wire fencing keeps small groups of sheep from wandering onto the road. Crested Pigeons, Galahs and some smaller unidentifiable bird species can be seen in the scraggly bushes bordering the pasture. In the distance I can just pick out a tree-line marking the edge of the national park: from there the road meanders towards the coast.

Typical coastal scrub

 A few hundred metres past the first stands of eucalypts we come across a smaller track veering to the left. The track has a sign that warns against use in wet weather but there has been a little rain over the last few days and today is fine and clear. We slip the vehicle into 4WD low range as a precaution and with a little slippage and much lurching, explore the trail.

Grey Butcherbird 

I tap Geoff on the shoulder and ask him to stop and power down his window. Only metres from the car, a Grey Butcherbird is perched on a dead tree branch. These fascinating birds have the rather unsavoury habit of impaling their prey on sharp branches where they are stored for later consumption. A kind of avian serial killer complete with trophies.

Euro in scrub

Our next encounter is on my side of the car. I notice a flash of grey in the undergrowth. Geoff sees it too and we slide to a halt. I am expecting to see a Western Grey Kangaroo and I am pleasantly surprised to spot a Wallaroo or Euro. These robust cousin of the more common Western Grey Kangaroo are more commonly found in the higher regions of the Flinders Ranges which form a backdrop to the coastal plain we are traversing.

Crested Pigeons 

Of course, the usual wildlife is abundant here; Australian Magpies, Crested Pigeons, a variety of parrots and even some Miner Birds. There are also Emus which occasionally sprint across the trail making photographing them almost impossible. Eventually I spot a small group way out in the scrub grazing under some trees. My Nikon P900 has excellent range and I tend to use it as a spotting scope at extreme distances. I decide to take a chance; stop the car rest and squeeze. Considering the range and lighting conditions I am pleasantly surprised by the result.

Emu at distance  

The track ends at a wide expanse of shallow beach coated in seaweed with a wonderful view across Gulf St Vincent to the low hills of the Eyre Peninsula. We return along the same path and then head down to Chinaman’s Creek; a little outpost set amongst mangroves with a few shacks and a boat ramp, an area I have written about previously.

Chinaman’s Creek 

After fossicking about in the mangroves it is time to head for home and lunch at Port Germein; a good half an hour’s driving time. We decide not to stop on the return drive unless something extraordinary makes an appearance and as a parting gift, that does happen. A loan Western Grey Kangaroo bolts in front of the car and presents the perfect picture with the foothills of the Flinders in the distance. Then one final encore as lovely Red Capped Robin sits in a thorn bush near the road………a nice way to end a perfect afternoon. 

Roo in flight

Red-capped Robin

Cheers

Baz

 Additional notes

This is an easy drive in dry weather which is quite suitable for families and seniors but requires 4wd in the wet. The National Park bans Dogs. 

 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

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Thompson Beach Safari

5 Aug

Thompson Beach Safari

 Dear Reader:

I leave the Port Wakefield Road at the Dublin Hotel and head towards the little coastal settlement of Thompson Beach travelling along a well graded unsealed road. Although the International Bird Sanctuary is my final destination, the rural track which passes through wheat-fields, grazing land with remnant scrub and trees on its edges, provides numerous wildlife viewing opportunities. There are parrots, magpies and many smaller bird species in the trees. In the distance, I catch a glimpse of several different kinds of raptors hovering above the plains. I suspect they are Nankeen Kestrels and Black-Shouldered Kites.

 

Enjoyable contrasting colours and textures on the drive in

 

I liked the look of magpies against the grey sky

I am exploring the International Bird Sanctuary at Thompson Beach, a small township around a forty-five-minute drive north of Adelaide. Established in the 1980’s and named after a family who farmed the area in the late 1800s, it is a well-known fishing, crabbing and bird watching destination on the Samphire Coast. Samphire is a low growing coastal plant that is often found in close proximity to mangroves and shallow, saltwater wetlands.

 

Parked on the beach front

 

On reaching the coast I notice a sign that indicates two different walking and sanctuary zones. I will explore both but start with the Baker Creek area to the north. After parking the 4WD at the end of the trail I walk along the beach front and explore the intertidal zone. There are many different shells including; cockles, predatory snails and even cowries. Diminutive Sanderlings are feeding among the drifts of seaweed and further out to sea I can see both egrets and herons wading in the shallows. Small fish are schooling in the mouth of the creek and I find numerous kangaroo droppings in the scrub adjacent to the beach.

 

Sanderling feeding

 

Random collection of shells

The coastal vegetation is almost as interesting as the wildlife. There are some fascinating ground covers close to the beach. I find a late-season Painted Lady butterfly settled amongst an unusual succulent ground cover that I am yet to identify. In a nearby acacia bush, a Singing Honeyeater perches high in the foliage as the bird surveys its territory.

 

Painted Lady on succulent

 

Singing Honeyeater

I have spent a good hour enjoying the Bakers Creek part of the sanctuary and it is time to backtrack and walk along the more developed Third Creek Trail. It has more defined trails with numerous interpretive signs explaining the characteristics of both botanical and animal species.

 

Well interpreted walks

 

Black Kite

 My first animal encounter on this trail is a beautiful Black Kite walking along the beach foraging in the seaweed. As I approach, the bird takes flight and hovers above the beach for a while then moves across the scrub to hunt in a different environment. For the next half an hour the kite alternates between scrub, beach and sea gliding, hovering and occasionally diving as it hunts for prey.

 

Wasp species

It has been an interesting walk and although the wildlife has not been prolific it has certainly been unique and capturing images both challenging and rewarding. Before heading back to the city, by way of the local hotel for a counter lunch, I make one last foray into the scrub. I am determined to get at least one picture of an insect or spider to add a little variation to my story. After a few minutes carefully scanning the foliage, I am rewarded, A small wasp is foraging amongst the leaves of a coastal acacia shrub. Seems that lunch is on the mind of all creatures, great or small.

 Cheers

Baz

Additional notes

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

On this excursion I used my Nikon Coolpix P900 exclusively as it allowed me to smoothly transition from extreme zoom to macro quickly

 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 of my South Australian stories and pictures in Weekend Notes

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

Middle Beach Wildlife

2 Jun

Dear Reader:

The road is paved to start with then turns into a well graded, dirt track which leads into a small beachside settlement. There is both pasture, coastal wetland and a roadside corridor of scrub and gum trees along this approach road. These distinct environments provide fertile hunting grounds for raptors and I am lucky enough to spot two species before I get to the mangrove and beach environment I have come to explore. A Brown Falcon perched on an old fencepost and a Black Shouldered Kite precariously balanced on a power line.

 

Black-shouldered Kite

Brown Falcon

I am exploring Middle Beach, a coastal township set amongst mangrove stands and shallow beaches; about a forty-five-minute drive from the centre of Adelaide. There is a small boat launching ramp, numerous channels that wind through the mangroves and even a public toilet in this unique setting. Middle beach is renowned for crabbing and fishing and is well worth a visit if canoeing, birdwatching or angling are your thing.

 

Singing Honeyeater

Grebe species

 The mangroves are home to a wide variety of animals including dozens of local and migratory birds, but they are hard to spot and even harder to photograph. However, their varied calls are a familiar soundtrack every time I visit these coastal reaches. Today I am lucky enough to see a Singing Honeyeater and Grebe as I walk up the shallow channel towards the sea.

 

Samphire and Mangrove

  I spend another hour combing the beach and taking a few landscape shots of the receding tide and reddish growths of Samphire. I use the extreme magnification of the camera to watch Great Egrets, White Faced Herons and Ibises in the distance as they forage in the seagrasses. Unfortunately, they are all just out of range for a good shot, even with the extraordinary telephoto capabilities of my Nikon P900.

 

Bovine Family Portrait

Around the water tank

On the drive back to the main freeway I decide to concentrate on photographing the rural landscape and I am rewarded by some interesting images of cows and Ibises near an old water tank and a group of cows seemingly posing for a family portrait. A great way to finish my Middle Beach excursion.

Take a drive there and let me know what you think.

Cheers

Baz

 Additional notes

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

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

Robe, a South Eastern Wonder

11 Apr

Dear Reader:

It is early evening and I am walking along the beach looking for traces of animals washed up on the high tide. An old 4WD is slowly making its way towards the far end of the bay; probably some fishers preparing for an evening’s angling. 

 

Four wheel sunset

I am exploring some of the terrain in the state’s south east around Robe. I have been here on several occasions; as a marine science student examining the difference between marine life in this cooler thermocline and later as a snorkeler catching crayfish. The region is significantly different to Adelaide’s coastal environment. Not only is the water cooler and deeper close to the shore but also the limestone nature of the coast makes for quite different seascapes. 

 

Sea Sweep love the rough oxygenated water

The charming coastal township of Robe is a lovely destination. The centre of the cray-fishing industry in South Australia; it is built around a sheltered marina. The town is a mixture of heritage buildings converted into small businesses such as cafes, craft shops and accommodation and some later modern residences and shops. There is an excellent caravan and camping area and the town is close to wineries, coastal conservation areas and farmland. All of which make it an ideal tourist destination. 

 

Sheltered marina

Nearby Nora Creina Bay is a perfect example of the rugged limestone coast which the region is named after. The rocks are sharp and pitted with hardy coastal plants clinging to any area which is sheltered or can trap water. Below the surface of the bay lies a myriad of small caves and crevices that support an abundance of marine life. There are holiday shacks in the area and a sheltered bay where cray boats often anchor.

 

Limestone coastal environment

 

Even the drive down to Robe was a wonderful experience as I was able to enjoy the wonders of the Coorong National Park which flanks the highway for around 100 kms. There are numerous trails that wind into the area which is characterised by shallow lagoons, steep sand hills and low scrub. These iconic environments host a wide variety of wildlife and I was lucky enough to see numerous birds of prey and several different reptile species as well as a diverse selection of wading bird species that migrate here to feed during the harsh northern hemisphere winters. 

 

Brown falcon

 

Bearded Dragon

The sun has almost disappeared and the beach is empty and to be perfectly honest it is getting just a little chilly. It is definitely time to head back into town and try some of that fresh caught cray washed down with a local wine. 

 

Local Rock Lobster locally called Crayfish

Cheers and stay safe in these unpredictable days

Baz

Equipment

The land images were taken with a Canon Eos system

The underwater shot was taken with a Canon Powershot G7 and U/W housing

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

By the Barrage

17 Dec

By the Barrage

Dear Reader:

A stately Australian Pelican glides across the water between the barrage and the reed beds.  This stretch of water is home to a wide variety water birds, fish and insects and even the occasional water rat.

 

Barrage and Pelican

 

Goolwa’s barrages are an intricate set of barriers between the freshwater expanses of Lake Alexandrina and the ocean. They are used to control the saline ocean water that once extended far up river under certain conditions. Locks in the barrage allows boats to pass through them giving fishers and other ‘boaties’ access to the Coorong; a long shallow waterway that runs parallel to the open ocean.

 

View from the track

Returning after collecting cockles

A paved road accesses the area with numerous interpretive signs explaining the history and purpose of this barrage which about five minutes from the Goolwa wharves taking Admiral Terrace which leads into Riverside Drive and then Barrage Road. Where vehicle access stops there is a small car park and a sign-posted track that leads over the sand-hills to Goolwa Beach; well known for its surf fishing and proliferation of cockles that are gathered for both food and bait.  

 

Pied Oystercatchers

 

I take the sand hill track over to the beach. There are several species of birds on the beach including; Plovers, Silver Gulls and the occasional Pacific Gulls and Common Terns patrolling the shallow waters looking for food. But it is a pair of Pied Oystercatchers that catch my eye as they delicately balance on one in the wet sand near the waterline.

 

Singing Honeyeater

Dune beetle

 

On my walk back across the dunes I focus on the numerous species of bushes, grasses and spreading ground covers that hold the dune ecosystem together. The wildlife is sparse in these harsh conditions but I do manage to find a large ‘weevil-like’ beetle foraging in some grasses and there are quite a few Singing Honeyeaters calling from the tops of bushes. There are also numerous tracks and droppings from kangaroos, rabbits and reptiles. I suspect that there is more action in the nocturnal hours.

 

Little Raven

Trudging through the dunes has been quite tiring; it is approaching lunch time and the wonderful bakeries of Goolwa beckon; or perhaps a pub lunch at the hotel.  As I climb into the car and head back along the lake one last animal  draws my attention. A raven is sitting on some weathered branches fluffing up its feathers and the light seems just right. Normally the all black birds are hard to photograph and the colours and reflections off their feathers seem incorrect. Down with the window, engine off to reduce vibration, rest the camera on the door frame and gently press the button. Voila… and now for lunch!!

 Cheers

Baz

 Additional notes

This is an easy drive which is quite suitable for families and seniors with parking and other facilities nearby. The walk across the sand hill track is quite strenuous though relatively short

 

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