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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

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

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

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

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Flinders Ranges’ Brachina Gorge

1 Feb

Dear Reader:

There is a pair of kangaroos resting out on the low grassy plain. As we approach they sit up and watch us warily. I slow the 4WD down and pull up on the side of the track carefully lowering the window. The animals are a good hundred and fifty metres away which stretches my Panasonic FZ60 to its limits. I slide a bean bag under the camera and take a few shots. With the benefit of the telephoto I can tell that they are both Red Kangaroos; a grey shaded female and the rusty coloured male.

 

Red Kangaroos

 

I am driving into Brachina Gorge which slices through the Flinders Ranges between the Flinders and Outback highways just north of Wilpena Pound; a good day’s drive from Adelaide. Today I am focussing on wildlife but this incredible gorge is also a geological wonder with layers of rocks and fossils dating back hundreds of millions of years. A well defined trail explains their formation and significance and tours are available through this remarkable area (Google Brachina Gorge Tours).

 

Ancient rock strata

 

Once we reach the Gorge proper it is time to get out and do a little exploring on foot. My first encounter is a Shingleback or Sleepy Lizard that is well entrenched in a pile of rocks. A cache of snails and bits of plant matter suggest that this has been home for a while though in general they are transient reptiles until it is time to hibernate.

Sleepy or Shingleback Lizard

 

If there is one iconic species in the Flinders it is the beautiful Yellow Footed Rock Wallaby and a little further along the gorge near a pool of water and a rock fall seems like a good place to sit quietly and wait. I am rewarded for patience about twenty minutes later when two of the delicate little creatures hop down the slope towards the water.

 

Yellow Footed Rock Wallaby grazing

 

As well as amazing geological features and great wildlife the gorge has an abundance of interesting plants and in near the watercourse amongst some shale-like rocks I find a spreading clump of Sturt Desert Pea; the state’s floral emblem.

 

Sturt desert Pea

 

So far Brachina has yielded wallabies, roos and flowering plants as well as innumerable other wildlife that I have not even mentioned from cockatoos to spiders and even some undesirable feral goats. But, it is a rather beautiful Mulga Parrot feeding on a small ground covering plant that really marks the end of my trip through Brachina Gorge.

 

Bourke’s Parrot feeding

 

When I reach the Outback Highway Wildlife slips from my mind and I turn north towards Parachilna and the famous Prairie Hotel and a rather special lunch that I will leave you the reader to discover when you come up to our wonderful Flinders Ranges.

Cheers

Baz

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

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Barrow Beach’s Dragons

26 Nov

It is a mild afternoon; a nice time for a drive down to one of my favourite outdoor destinations. Not well known or easily accessed, Barrow’s Beach is a half hour drive from Port Pirie and about fifteen minutes from Port Germein. A Google Earth hunt will best describe how to access the area, but beware; depending on weather and your desire for adventure, 4WD is recommended.

 

Typical terrain

 

We are scouting the beach for fishing spots and enjoying some wildlife photography at the same time. As we come off the track onto the beach I notice a group of Rose Breasted Cockatoos (Galahs) fossicking in the seaweed that has been washed up during stormy weather and high tides. Worth a shot as this is not their usual environment.

 

Beachside cockies

 

Further along the beach where the sand is quite tricky to negotiate a mixed flock of Pied Cormorants and Common Terns are resting on a sand bar. As we approach they take flight creating a lovely image as they pass low across the shallow water with the muted outline of the Flinders Ranges as a backdrop.

 

Formation flying

 

It seems that our drive is turning out to be more about wildlife than fishing. And our next few encounters highlight that idea. My fishing partner and driver Geoff traverses the beach and heads a back along a pot holed track overgrown with  wiry bushes and stunted trees . We stop several times to explore likely areas where reptiles, shore birds and even the odd kangaroo might be hiding.

 

Stay away

 

Kangaroos and shore birds do not seem to be on the menu in this area but we do flush out three separate species of lizards; a Shingleback, Bearded Dragon and a little Painted Dragon. Wonderful to see so many kinds of lizards in such a short period of time.

 

Glimpse of a dragon

 

Bearded dragon

Our trip is not ended and there is still much to see among the mangroves and little channels that flow through them but I shall leave that part of my adventure for another post in the future.

Cheers

Baz

Additional notes

This is a challenging drive with no facilities available. However once at the location walking is easy enough.

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.

https://wildlifemomentssa.blogspot.com

Barossa’s Whispering Wall

1 Nov

. Barossa’s Whispering Wall

 Dear Reader:

At the end of the long curved concrete wall there is a little patch of broken reeds and other water plants that form a kind of mat on the surface; an ideal place for a variety of aquatic animals. Public access to this area is prohibited so I have to scan the mish-mash of vegetation with my long lens. To my surprise, there are both male and female Blue Wrens feeding on the numerous insects living around the plant material.

 

Male Blue Wren

 

Female Blue Wren

 

I am at the Whispering Wall which is the main dam containing the Barossa Valley reservoir. Built in 1903 it was considered quite an engineering feat at the time. The wall of the dam is named for its acoustic properties and you can stand at one end and be heard at the other even when speaking quietly. Most of the property around the dam is fenced-off but by simply waking around the grassed areas and across the dam it is possible to encounter quite a wide range of wildlife.

 

Curve of the dam wall

 

 

 

“I’m whispering.”

 

“Yep, I heard you.”

 

In another patch of reeds I catch sight of freshwater turtle peering through the broken stems and there are numerous small fish or tadpoles in the more open patches of water. Walking back across the dam I see a small group of Eurasian Coots feeding. And in the distance a lone Greater Crested Grebe is making its way across the reservoir; a bird that I have never seen in the wild. I take a long shot with the camera but the result is hardly award-winning.

 

Freshwater turtle probably a Macquarie Sort Neck

Eurasian Coot

Long distance shot of a Great Crested Grebe

 

Back at the car park I take a stroll around the grassy lawns which are dominated by massive red gums. Both Galahs and Sulphur Crested Cockatoos are perched high in the branches while smaller Lorikeet species are feeding on blossoms and gum nuts. Along the edge of this area several cormorants are resting in the trees; silhouetted by the dazzling blue of the sky.

 

 

My walk has been short but rewarding and a stop at the Williamstown Bakery on the way back will almost certainly make this a memorable day out.  

 Cheers

Baz

Additional notes

This is an easy walk and drive which is quite suitable for families and seniors with public toilets, picnic area and parking on site. 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

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