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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/

Fish and Explore West Lakes Inlet

22 Jun

 Fish and Explore West Lakes Inlet 

Dear Reader:

The receding tide has left the mud flats exposed and several species of birds are making use of the food sources it presents. A Sooty Oyster Catcher is probing the mud for shellfish and a Masked Lapwing is looking for worms and other soft bodied animals. Their beaks, feet and hunting styles are well adapted for each individual diet.

 

Sooty Oystercatcher

 

Masked Lapwing

 

I am exploring the inlet between the Port River and West Lakes. The water flowers under Bower Road and there is access to both sides of the inlet. Lawns, shelters, public toilets and barbecues are available on the West Lakes side as well as free carparking and even a bike and skate park. Something for all the family!

 

Spinning for Salmon Trout

 

A nice Bream

 

On the Port side the water is flowing out swiftly and some anglers are casting for Salmon Trout while the lone fisherman on the West Lakes shore has caught a couple of sizeable Bream. The calmer waters of West Lakes allows me to explore some of the rock facings and photograph schools of small bait fish that are feeding on the surface.

 

Pied Cormorant

 

Both Black and Pied Cormorants are fishing in the area. They paddle along the surface for a while then dive and use their webbed feet and shortish wings to aid steering and propulsion underwater. Cormorants’ eyes are well adapted with special lenses that allow them to see clearly underwater. In addition, the jagged tooth like structures on the edges of their beaks enable them to grab and hold slippery fish.

 

Mangrove leaves and spider web

 

On the western side of the Port River Basin there is a significant growth of mangrove trees. They provide yet another significant environment. Numerous birds, insects, spiders and marine invertebrates inhabit this zone and it is very important as a breeding and nursery area for many marine fish species.

 

Small bait-fish feeding on the surface

 

My walk around the inlet has been most rewarding. Apart from the animals photographed I have also encountered Pelicans, Terns, Stilts and tiny Plovers. Grubbing around in the muddy areas on the fringes of the mangroves I found numerous shellfish species and some little mangrove crabs that live in holes and under rocks. 

 

Mangrove crab species

 

The West Lakes Inlet on Bower Road is certainly a diverse and interesting place to spend some time. Give it a try when you have a spare few hours.

Cheers

Baz

Additional notes

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

All the photographs for this article were taken using a Nikon Coolpix P900 

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/

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

Wiliamstown to Springton a Wildlife Drive

1 Jan

Dear Reader:

The paddock beyond the fence-line is characterised by open grassland still bearing a tinge of green from recent rains. There are gum trees punctuating the open expanse of pasture and a large mob of kangaroos are spread across this classic Australian landscape. Some are resting while others graze; a few have joeys in pouches or at heel.

 

Grazing roos

 

I am driving between Williamstown and Springton and despite most of the land being fenced off  each time I stop by the roadside there are many faunal and floral delights to discover. In addition, lunch at the end of the drive in the Springton Pub or morning tea at the start of my drive at the Williamstown Bakery, are wonderful refueling stopovers.

 

Echidna on the move

 

Echidna rolled and momentarily turned before righting itself

As I drive on I can see a variety of parrots in the roadside trees; rosellas, lorikeets and galahs are the dominant species. But in one very large eucalypt a group of Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoos have settled. Unfortunately they take to the air as I leave the vehicle. However, as luck would have it, I hear some rustling in the grass alongside the road and an Echidna appears trundling along in its everlasting search for termites. The fascinating animal rolls itself up and burrows down as I kneel to take a shot using the macro capability of my Nikon P900 to zoom in on its features.

 

Flax Lily species

 

After making several more quick stops to photograph birds in the scrub, pasture and trees along the road I find a lay-by with quite a lot of vegetation. Amongst the bushes and grass I notice a small collection of lovely Purple Flax plants, just one of the many flowering natives that can be seen through this area.

 

Painted Lady

 

Cuckoo Shrike species feeding

 

My final stop before the return drive back through Gawler is in a patch of scrub near a farm gate where there is quite a lot of undergrowth. The area is dominated by a single massive gum that appears to attract numerous birds. Scouring the leaf litter and broken branches reveals a lovely Painted Lady Butterfly while a Cuckoo Shrike sits in a barren branch above. A wonderful way to finish my little expedition.

Cheers 

Baz

Additional notes

This is an easy drive which is quite suitable for families and seniors with facilities at both towns.  

 See more South Australian stories and pictures in Weekend Notes

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

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

 

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.

Just Cruising 1

1 Jun

Just Cruising 1

Dear Reader:

There is a white faced heron picking its way precariously along the bow rail of the boat; probably heading for the shrimp bucket. In the meantime, two welcome swallows are resting on the mooring rope while they take a rest from their aerial, acrobatic insect hunts. These are two of the animals that make our houseboat a temporary home as we journey along the river.

 

Curious Heron

 

To date my blogs have always been about South Australia but the next few posts will stray just a little from my own state and take you just over the border to Mildura in Victoria. From this thriving community I will share some observation taken on a week-long houseboat trip along the Murray. The wildlife and scenery are much the same as in SA as we are cruising along a section of the river which runs close to all three states SA, Victoria and NSW.

 

Typical riverside scenery

 

Houseboats are a wonderful way to explore the river. They come in all shapes and sizes from luxury models with saunas, ensuite bathrooms and satellite television through to old fashioned paddle sided boats with two rooms and a basic kitchen. We travelled in rather luxurious style which I can fully recommend; and travelling in a group certainly made it a reasonably inexpensive holiday option.

 

A classic

 

Wildlife along the river is seasonal and dependent on a variety of conditions such as drought and ambient river levels. The long dry that we have experienced this year meant that the wildlife was sporadic and took a little effort to locate. However, as we varied our moorings between townships and bush there was always something to see when I took a walk and looked carefully.

What the????

 

At a bush mooring near the confluence of the Darling and Murray I spent a couple of hours walking through the scrub bordering the river. Whilst sitting on a log near a clump of acacia bushes some small bugs with ‘eye-lash- like’ antennae caught my attention. I spent a good half hour trying to get a reasonable shot. Sometimes the little things can be the most interesting and challenging to photograph.

 

Nesting Apostle bird

 

The rewards of exploring a new and unfamiliar region are many including the chance to encounter species that are rarely observed or at the best seen fleetingly at home. An apostle bird nesting in the eucalypts that shaded our mooring at Coomeala was a prime example. Locals told me that they are quite common but it was the first time I had seen one and to capture and image of it nesting was quite a thrill.

Sandra gets the double

 

There were many more encounters on this trip and they certainly warrant further posts under the heading ‘Just Cruising’ which seems to capture the mood of my week exploring the mighty Murray while relaxing with friends.

 

Cheers

Baz

 

Additional notes

This is an easy excursion which is quite suitable for families and seniors with toilets, barbecues and numerous facilities aboard.

 

 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 to accompany each post.

https://wildlifemomentssa.blogspot.com

Hoseshoe Bay’s Coastal Wonders

1 Oct

Dear Reader:

The Soldiers Memorial Gardens overlooks Horseshoe Bay; one of the most picturesque locations on the Fleurieu Peninsula. Well kept lawns are surrounded by flower beds and fronted by massive Norfolk Island Pines that attract a wide variety of wildlife.

 

View of Bay from gardens

 

Today the grassed areas have just been mown and two beautiful, red-rumped parrots are feeding on some seed heads that have been scattered by the mower. Male birds are more colourful than the females with brighter plumage and a red splash of colour on the lower back. The gardener seems to have also stirred up some insects which are being vigorously hawked by a lively little wagtail.

 

Red rumped parrot

 

Wagtail

Near the gardens a track runs along the coast towards the jetty and then along the face of boulder strewn cliffs. Several wattle birds are gathering nectar from coastal blooms of agapanthus and I can see both terns and silver gulls patrolling the wave break in search of prey.

 

Wattle bird feeding

 

Local jetty and cliffs

 

There are rocky outcrops at both ends of Horseshoe Bay and small islands in the mouth. These are home to a myriad of sea creatures. Sweep, drummer and zebra fish are just a few of the fish species that abound here. The rugged, algae dominated rocks also provide habitats for a wealth of invertebrates including: crayfish, crabs, sea snails, sponges and starfish…to name but a few.

 

Sea snail (gastropod) probably a pheasant shell species

 

From a high point on the coastal path I have a good view of the bay and I take some time to sit and eat a snack from the Local Port Elliot bakery. Behind me I can hear the call of singing honeyeaters and in front the gentle rushing sound of the incoming tide and surf on the rocks….. a fine way to finish my visit to Horshoe Bay.

 

Singing honeyeater

 

Coastal walk and view of islands in bay

 

 Cheers

Baz

 

Additional notes

This is an easy walk which is quite suitable for families and seniors with public toilets, food outlets and parking 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

Whyalla’s Coastal Fringe

25 Jun

Whyalla’s Coastal Fringe

Dear Reader:

The grey kangaroo is bounding along the small levy that cuts across a shallow clay pan near the edge of a tidal flat. It stops monetarily and twitches its mobile ears, looks around, then continues on its way into the scrub alongside the raised earthen mound. I get a few seconds to make a shot and the wary marsupial is gone.

Grey kangaroo

 I am exploring the coastal fringe of Whyalla South Australia’s third most populous city. The steel and regional centre is situated near the head of Spencer Gulf on the Eyre Peninsula about 450 kms from Adelaide. The area is a mixture of mangrove, tidal flats, sandy beach and some small industrial areas that enclose substantial freshwater pools. Several roads lead down towards the coast from the Lincoln Highway and some of the terrain requires 4WD.

Garden centipede

Egyptian beetle 

I take the vehicle across one of the mud flats and have to fight to keep from getting bogged. Slipping the SUV into low range and slowly sliding across the surface I wrestle with the steering until the wheels grip sand on the edge of the levy. Relieved, I get out and survey the quagmire of clay-like debris stuck to the wheel arches. But my close call has led me to a cosy little depression amongst the scrub and I decide to move a few fallen branches and search for invertebrates. After a few minutes I unearth a rather large garden centipede and a few Egyptian or ‘cellar beetles’ as well as some different ant species. After a little macro photography I carefully replace their homes.

Australian pelicans 

Another dirt road takes me past the rifle club and some large freshwater ponds that have attracted a small group of pelicans. The birds appear to be simply congregating and socialising between short forays into the water to feed. Along the edge of the water there are several different species of small waders including dotterels and plovers but they are wary and take flight when I approach.

Crested pigeons 

The scrub alongside the mangrove patches is also home to a variety of birds including singing honeyeaters and fantails. One scrubby eucalypt that has managed to endure decades of salty onshore winds provides shelter for a trio of crested pigeons a species that I often see found foraging in the coastal bush.

View from Hummock Hill 

I head back onto the highway drive back into the city and up to a local lookout. Hummock Hill is a fitting place to end my exploration of Whyalla’s coastal fringe. The site of the first settlement in 1901 it provides panoramic views of the city, coast and surrounding bushland. Hummock Hill also served as a gun emplacement during the Second World War and has lately been developed as an historic site; lovely place to simply take in the rugged beauty that this area has to offer.

Cheers

Baz 

 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

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