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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 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

Backyard Safari With My New Tamron Lens

5 Mar

Dear Reader:

There is little doubt that the South Australia has some fascinating and inspiring countryside from the rugged coastline of the south east to the wild expanses of outback in the north. However, it is often what is right under our noses that can prove most interesting. With that in mind I decided to try out my new Tamron 18-400 lens in the back yard.

 

Wattle Bird enjoys the trellis

 

Backyard

 

 

Spotted Doves are quite common in our suburb and each morning I spread out a handfuls of seed to encourage them. It is wonderful to watch their antics especially around mating time with the males bobbing and cooing to get the females’ attention. Over the years they have built their simple twig nests in our gum tree and raised several broods of young.

 

Spotted Doves

 

The Tamron lens is reputed to have quite good macro capabilities and with that in mind I spent some time fossicking for insects in the foliage and flowers of Daisy and Correa bushes. There were crickets, ladybugs and hoverflies in some numbers and I settled on an image of a hoverfly that had landed on a blossom to feed.

 

Hoverfly

 

Even though cats are generally a menace to wildlife I have a soft spot for them if controlled in urban areas. I have two and the Abyssinian is well past being a menace to anything as he is 16 years old an it is quite amusing to see the proverbial ‘cat amongst the pigeons/doves’.

 

Too old to worry about

 

Each day I leave an apple and two orange halves spiked to my trellis which attract a wide variety of birds from noisy Rainbow Lorikeets to delicate New Holland Honeyeaters. It is a pleasant enough task to sit quietly in the garden and photograph them feeding and squabbling over my offerings.

 

Apples for Lorikeet lunch

 

Even the humble lawn has its role once I have spread a little seed about for the Doves, Pigeons and occasional Mudlarks. And, after the sprinklers come on in the summer or there is good rain, the local Blackbirds forage for worms.

 

Just a glimpse

 

There a very few mammals in our suburb bar cats and dogs. We are too far from the hills for Koalas and possums are rare. But one late afternoon as I was sitting reading the paper (camera as always on the table) I watched a little Fruit Rat bound across the path. Not the most welcome of guests but for me it is always a treat to see something new in the garden.

 

Cheers

Baz

 

See more South Australian stories and pictures in Weekend Notes

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

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.

Pondalowie’s Beachside Birdlife

6 Feb

Pondalowie’s Beachside Birdlife

 Dear Reader:

A lone Pacific gull stands on the beach amongst strands of washed up seaweed. It stares at the ocean for a while watching another gull wheeling and soaring above the waves then nonchalantly wanders along the tidal fringe foraging for invertebrates or whatever the sea has deposited.

 

Pacific gull

 

The long white sands of Pondalowie Bay are home to many species of birds and a fertile food source for many others. A leisurely four hour drive from Adelaide to this picturesque Bay on the western extremity of the Innes National Park is a favourite haunt of naturalists, fishers, divers and holiday makers. In fact; any traveller who enjoy that hint of wildness in their getaways will find this a wonderful destination.

 

Classic peninsula coastal landscape

 

Further along the beach several species of tiny waders including dotterels, plovers and sand pipers scurry along the retreating waterline searching for tiny invertebrates such as worms, crustaceans and molluscs. Their little legs seem to rotate as they forage giving them the appearance of wind up clockwork toys.

 

Double banded plover-non breeding plumage

 

Swallows normally live further inland amongst the scrub and trees. However, the proliferation of insects infesting the beds of weed that are strewn along the high tide line has attracted quite a large number of these colourful little aerial hunters. Some are perched on driftwood as they rest between their forays above the weed while others perch in bushes close to the beach.

Swallow

 

In all honesty, my favourite beach dwellers are the oystercatchers. There are two species on the beach pied and sooty and it is a pair of sooties that I spend a few minutes focussing on. They use their long chisel shaped beaks to probe the sand or scrape molluscs off rocks and prise them apart. The bird closest to me has snagged a turban shell and is proceeding to split it open and consume the unfortunate critter within.

 

Sooty oystercatcher

 

From Pondalowie it is a good half hour drive back to Marion Bay where we are staying in a cliff-side holiday home and dinner at the local pub that serves the best pizzas and seafood I have eaten in a long time.    

 

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 at Marion Bay and Pondalowie. The trails leading from the main park road down to beaches and into the scrub are more arduous.

 

 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. The link does not work well on mobile phones and is best followed through a computer or tablet.

https://silkstone627.wixsite.com/mysite

Veale Garden’s Bird Life

3 Jul

Veale Garden’s Bird Life

 Dear Reader;

There is a posse of bandits in the trees around me. Noisy miners with their black masked faces and highly social behaviour resemble just that, especially when they are defending their territory. Today it is a magpie that is on the receiving end of their aggressive chattering and aerial sorties. Despite its size, the magpie soon leaves the area and the miners return to their foraging and socialising in the trees.

Noisy Miner glaring at magpie

 

Australian magpie

 

I am in Veale Gardens, a lovely green space that borders South Terrace on the very fringe of Adelaide’s CBD. I have been attending a convention in the Adelaide Pavilion which caters for a range of functions from weddings to corporate events. After a superb lunch I am taking advantage of these charming gardens to enjoy some urban wildlife. Lawns, trees, flower beds, tall trees and a little brook that runs through the area make it ideal for a little environmental decompression on the edge of the city.

Veale Gardens Creek

In one shaded area of the creek there is a small pool that is attracting several different species of water birds. A male and female Pacific black duck are resting on the rocks at the edge of the water.  Nearby a little pied cormorant is perched a little further along the rock wall near a small waterfall. The predatory bird is watching the water intently for prey such as small fish, yabbies and frogs which it will chase underwater using its wings like flippers.

Pacific black ducks

 

Little pied cormorant

 

There are many other bird species around the gardens especially in the tall eucalypts that run along South Terrace. My favourites are the corellas which congregate in the trees and on the well tended lawns probing for bulbs and tubers in the grass. Their raucous calls can be heard as extensive flocks fly over the city to their roosting sites in the late afternoon.

Corella

 

It has been a rewarding lunchtime stroll around the gardens but the convention beckons and it is time to put away the camera and listen to another speaker extolling the benefits of the city’s parklands to the general health and well being of the public…..quite ironic really.

 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

A North Adelaide Garden Safari

30 Sep

A north Adelaide garden safari 

Dear Reader

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

1-1

Flower spider on daisy blossom

1-2

Gotcha

 

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

2-1

Bee feeding on cat mint

 

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

3

Woolly bear caterpillar

 

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

4-1

There are many different species of ladybirds

 

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

Enjoy our spring gardens and their wildlife

Cheers

Baz  

A Walk in the Botanic Gardens

17 Jun

Dear Reader:

Australian magpies are fascinating birds, gregarious and intelligent with rather an aggressive streak during the nesting season. This one seems a little out of tune to the seasons, it’s not really the time to be constructing a nest at the beginning of winter but here it is collecting material for just that purpose.

 

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Magpie nesting behaviour

 

1 3

Hoverfly

Botanical gardens are wonderful places to observe wildlife especially in the winter months when some animals’ natural habitats can be bereft of food while others will have moved on to the proverbial ‘ greener pastures’. The incredible variety of plants in the gardens ensures that something is always flowering or fruiting which in turn leads to a food web that supports a range of wildlife from birds and mammals to insects and spiders.

 

1 2

Photographer at work

 

Our Botanical Gardens also draws in another species; the nature photographer (Homo sapiens cameralis) and they often migrate great distances to enjoy our wildlife. The gentleman in the picture was a visitor from Asia who was keen to photograph Australian native plants and we had an interesting conversation about the unique ecosystems that he might visit in South Australia.

 

1 4 1

The lake near the kiosk and restaurant

 

My excursions often include a place to eat and have a break and there are several in the Botanic Gardens. On this occasion I simply sat by the quaint little lake and enjoyed a light snack from the kiosk but more elaborate and substantial meals are available from Cafe Fibonacci and the Botanic Gardens Restaurant. The gardens also house a museum of economic botany, Victorian era palm house, the bicentennial conservatory and many other specialised areas.

 

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Eastern rosella

 

Walking around the lake is always a pleasure and in the warmer months giant carp feed near the banks and freshwater turtles are commonly seen basking on the surface. Today, there are several cormorants drying their wings and a lone rosella foraging for seeds amongst the bare limbs of a tree that sits on a small island in the lake.

 

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Crested pigeon

 

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Maned ducks feeding near the creek

 

From the lake I head east towards the Bicentennial Conservatory crossing over a small creek where a pair of maned ducks and a crested pigeon are foraging in the lush grass that borders the waterway.

 

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Self portrait in glass

 

My last encounter is with another one of those hominid species that frequent the gardens. Indeed, it is my own reflection as I pause to photograph the fascinating glass sculpture entitled ‘Cascade’ by Australian artist Sergio Redegalli,  which dominates the southern end of the conservatory.

 

Cheers

Baz

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