Tag Archives: Adelaide Hills

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/

Warren Reservoir

11 May

Dear Reader:

There is pelican fishing near the water outlet on the edge of the reservoir. It seems to be catching the odd fish unlike the anglers near the bridge. Likewise, a snake bird sometimes called a diver but more correctly known as an anhinga, is perched on a branch overhanging the water drying its wings after successfully making a catch. Obviously there is prey in the lake and after one of the longest dry spells on record it is a pleasure to witness the local wildlife reaping the benefits of permanent water.

 

Snake bird or darter

 

I am exploring the Warren Reservoir about an hour’s drive north east of Adelaide’s CBD past Williamstown on Warren Road which deviates left off the Springton Road a few Kilometres beyond the township. There are several lay-bys and one major recreation site that allow access to the reservoir which can be used by fishers and kayakers.

 

Warren Reservoir

 

 There is a bridge crossing the reservoir that leads on to a path that skirts the water. Tiny finches and wrens are chirping in the canopy and an occasional duck can be seen foraging near the reeds. I sit quietly by a large eucalypt that droops over the water watching for a kingfisher or kookaburra. However, it is a tiny female blue wren that catches my eye as it works its way along the edge of the water.

 

Masked Lapwings

 

Roos in retreat

 

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Further along the track several lapwings are walking tentatively along the high water mark. They are nervous and approaching them to capture an image is difficult. As I crouch amongst the bushes I startle a small group of kangaroos that are quietly resting in some bushland near the edge of a pine forest.

 

Casual lunch

 

My walk around the reservoir has been interesting but a few hunger pangs are setting in. In a cutting a little closer to Williamstown there is a pop up lunch bus that makes unbelievable hot-steak rolls. The chap that runs it is an ex-biker (not bikey) and also sells oil and other motorbike accessories for the numerous enthusiasts that drive through the area. An interesting way to end my day at the reservoir.

 

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.

 

 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

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

Brownhill Creek’s Koalas and Bird Life

22 Jan

Dear Reader:

The scrub is quite thick along the river bank and I can hear the movements of small animals against the background sigh of the wind through the towering eucalypts. Lizards, perhaps small mammals but more likely wrens, finches and other little birds are foraging in the undergrowth. Finally, a diminutive female blue wren emerges from the cover to search for seeds in a clearing. The opportunity to take a quick shot is momentary.

 

Female blue wren

Common garden skink

 

Brownhill Creek is one of several waterways that drain the south eastern aspect of the Mount Lofty Ranges. It has shallow pools that retain water in the hotter months and flows freely in the cooler ones. There is thick undergrowth along the creek bed that ranges into open scrubland on the surrounding hillsides. A paved road follows the creek eastward with numerous sidings that enable access to the water along narrow dirt tracks.

 

koala

 

I stop in one of the lay-bys where there is a significant clearing surrounded by several eucalypts. Using the long lens I scan the forks in the canopy for koalas. The bear-like marsupials eat a range of gum leaves and these trees look to be one of the preferred species. Luck is with me as I spot a large male using its double-thumbed prehensile grip to move along a branch.

Silvereye

 

Adelaide rosella

Ravens

 

Further along the road a small bridge crosses the creek and there is a large stand of eucalyptus and evergreen trees spreading both limbs and branches across the creek. A wide variety of birds are feeding on blossoms, fruit and insects. I manage to photograph silver-eyes, Adelaide rosellas and a pair of raucous ravens.

Laughing kookaburra

 

Dragonfly species

 

My drive along Brownhill creek has been quite exceptional and I decide to make one last foray down to the creek near the caravan park.  I can hear a kookaburra calling and some flowering plants along the creek seem to be attracting both butterflies and dragonflies. With a little luck I might just capture a few more images to complete my creek-side safari.

 

Cheers

Baz

 

Additional notes

This is an easy drive but the tracks along the creek are more difficult.

 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

Jupiter’s Wildlife

2 Oct

Dear Reader:

Before I have even climbed out of the car I notice a flight of cockatoos gliding low towards the grassy oval where they settle to feed on tubers and roots. Then from the trail head I spot a pair of tawny frogmouths high in one of the stringy barks that dominate the area. These fascinating owl-like birds are nocturnal and use the fine whiskery feathers to locate prey in the dark. Their camouflage is superb making them appear to be an extension of the branches they cling to during the daylight hours.

 

Tawny frogmouth

 

I am exploring the trails around the heritage listed Jupiter Creek Gold Diggings. They are located in the Kuitpo Forest area and were mined intermittently between the 1860s and 1930s. The diggings are now a heritage site and a great place to go for an historic and wildlife wander.

 

Bush trail near the car park

 

Today the weather is a little on the bleak side; not characteristic of South Australia’s habitually warm spring season. But the light adds softness to the bushland setting while providing many photographic challenges as I try trying to capture acceptable images of the constantly moving wildlife.

 

Grey currawong

 

A little further along one of the trails that leads to the diggings I hear the bell-like chimes of a grey currawong. Eventually the bird flies between some trees and I am able to get a clear shot as it perches high in the branches framed by a rare patch of blue sky.

 

Female scarlet robin

 

There are many small birds flitting between the branches and amongst the wattle and pea bushes that form the mid story. I catch glimpses of fairy wrens, tree creepers and even a crescent honeyeater. Eventually a female scarlet robin lands on the trunk of a large eucalypt and begins to forage between the layers of bark for grubs, spiders and insects. In the low light I have to steady the camera against a branch to make the shot.

 

Leaf curling spider web

 

Leaf curling spider emerging

Although only the first vestiges of Spring have graced the state a few insects and spiders are emerging from their winter dormancy. Numerous webs are strung between the lower branches of bushes and trees. Curled leaves are suspended in many of the webs in what, at first, seems a random fashion. However, closer examination shows this web and leaf combination is home to leaf-curling spiders that use silk to draw in the sides of the elongated eucalypt leaves to form a tubular shelter.

 

Common brown butterfly camouflaged

 

A few species of flowering plants are beginning to bloom in the leaf litter and under story and the contrast between them and a well camouflaged common brown butterfly provides a striking image.

 

Gums in low light

 

Today I have only wandered a little way along the trail that leads to the old diggings but I am determined to return later in spring to investigate more of this fascinating area. For now I shall climb back into the car and head for ‘Fred’, a charming little restaurant in Aldgate a just a few kilometres down the road and the home of some of Adelaide’s best lunch time treats. I’ll try the croque monsieur….then go for another walk in the wild to work off the calories!!!!

 

 Cheers Baz

 

Additional notes

There are some challenging areas when walking the trails around the mine site. A signposted area near the oval with basic shelters provides maps and diagrams of the area.

 

 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.

https://silkstone627.wixsite.com/mysite

Cudlee Creek’s Winter Wildlife

1 Sep

Dear Reader:

It is early morning and the sky is still a little grey as it sheds the last of the morning mist. A steep path winds down to the riverside and it too is slippery from the moisture in the air. Small birds are flitting between the trees, moving too fast to recognise but an occasional call suggests they are honeyeaters and wrens. Eventually the ground levels off and I am able to walk comfortably amongst a stand of gums that border the water. To my surprise I find a large koala in the one of the smaller saplings doing its best to reach the tender leaves at the top of the tree.

 

Koala feeding

 

The road from the Cudlee Creek Bridge past the Kangaroo Creek Dam and back to Adelaide winds along the banks of the Torrens for the first few kilometres. There are a few narrow lay-bys where you can access the water and the enveloping scrub. Steep hillsides and sandstone cliffs make this an attractive but arduous place to search for wildlife but one worth the effort as a variety of birds, grey kangaroos, water rats and turtles; to mention but a few species; make the Torrens Gorge home.

 

River, cliff and road

 

Closer to the Bridge and Cudlee Creek store I park along a track and make my way down to the long pool at the foot of a hillside. A pair of rosellas is chattering in the trees above me and an expectant kookaburra is waiting above the water on an overhanging branch. But it is the little fairy wrens that intrigue me. One bird sits cautiously on a large rock near some straggly plants that have gone to seed. It seems aware of me but the lure of a nutritious lunch seems to outweigh caution. I watch it feed for a few minutes before the lorikeets issue a warning call and it flits back into the undergrowth.

 

Blue wren near water

 

Blue wren feeding

 

 

My final stop is the little store ‘come restaurant and gas station’ for a bite to eat but not before I walk across the adjacent bridge to see if I can spot some birds or even a possum in the foliage of several eucalypts that reach up from the river. Though it is winter and insects are a rarity it is a beautiful monarch butterfly that provides my parting shot and a reminder to return in the warmer weather.

Historic Cudlee Creek Bridge

 

 

 

Monarch on eucalyptus leaves

Cheers

Baz

Additional notes

Exploring the riverbank can be quite difficult but driving and simply stopping at the lay-bys between Cudlee Creek and Kangaroo Creek dam is a pleasant drive.

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

https://silkstone627.wixsite.com/mysite

Hills Face Koalas

1 Jun

Hills face Koalas

 Dear Reader:

I drive up the gravel track to a parking lot surrounded by massive eucalypts where several narrow trails lead up the bush-clad hillsides. Wanderer butterflies are feeding on the blossoms of several small groundcovers and a kookaburra is serenading us from somewhere in the deeper recesses of the scrub. But it is a lone koala that grabs my attention as it stretches full length along a tree limb.

 

 

Today is koala day. The sun is out and I am going to drive along the hill’s face to some of my favourite destinations and look for these fascinating marsupials, while trying to capture some images that demonstrate their lifestyle. My first encounter is at Anstey’s Hill Reserve in Tea Tree Gully where I have often seen koalas along the various trails that wind through the area.

 

 

From Anstey’s I drive to Morialta Falls Park. Koalas are often spotted along the road to the central gathering area where the walking trails start. And, as if on cue, I notice an animal nestled in the branches of gum tree growing across the creek. Unlike my first sighting this one is climbing, quite vigorously-for a koala- into the higher branches and is not in the mood to be photographed. Koalas are generally slow moving, laid back animals as the nutritional value of the leaves they eat is low and energy expenditure must be carefully rationed.

 

 

The Mount Osmond walking trails in Burnside are another of my favourite koala haunts. I am not disappointed and manage to spot half a dozen koalas in the trees alongside the path that leads to an old quarry. But it is a lone animal that continues my ongoing koala narrative as it walks on all fours between the trees. It is rare to see them walking on the ground as it is here that they are most vulnerable.

 

 

In Mitcham, the road that follows Brownhill creek has numerous lay-bys and koalas are often observed in this area. And my final shot of a koala demonstrating its perfectly adapted hand with two opposable thumbs for climbing and grasping leaves is a fitting way to end my observations of these uniquely Australian animals.

 Cheers

Baz

 

 

Crafers…soft light and pretty birds

1 Feb

Crafers…soft light and pretty birds

Dear Reader:

The road meanders up the slope of the hill from the freeway exit past houses and a plant nursery towards a school nestled in the scrub. A few metres back, a footpath shadows the road. I can hear small birds twittering among the bushes and as I walk the trail nature seems to have re-established itself despite the occasional sound of a passing car.

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Yellow thornbill

 

Tall eucalypts and a few pines cut the light to a minimum and I have to work hard to focus my camera on the birds that live in the shadows. Eventually I spot a tiny yellow thornbill hopping between the branches. I fire off a half dozen frames, one is reasonable.

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Crimson Rosella

 

A little further along the path I can hear the single piping note of a crimson rosella. The sound seems to emanate from the top of a tall pine closer to the road. It takes a few minutes to find the bird but the soft light and beautiful plumage render a gentle image in the viewfinder.

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Classy meals, great service

 

 

I am in Crafers, a charming little hill’s town, just off the South Eastern Freeway about 15 minutes from Adelaide’s CBD. The town is set amongst lush bushland with tall eucalypts and a smattering of introduced pine trees dominating its skyline.

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Grey currawong

 

The trail cuts and curves through the trees skirting some lovely homes and bush gardens that in themselves are drawcards for wildlife. A grey currawong catches my eye as it flies into a stringy bark tree and starts to sharpen its beak on a branch.

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Unknown small skink species

 

I stop near the school and chat to some of the adults who are dropping their children off. They tell me that koalas are common in the area and sometimes echidnas trundle through the undergrowth. With this information in mind I find a spot on the hillside opposite and spend twenty minutes just waiting and watching. No koalas or echidnas today but a there are small brown skinks hunting in the leaf litter.

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Interesting entrance to B&B

 

Shouldering my camera I walk back down into Crafers on the opposite side to the trail taking in the country ambience and imagining what it would be like to live here. I pass an intriguing guest house and stop at the local hotel for a meal. All in all…..a pretty good morning.  

 Cheers

Baz

Additional notes

This is an easy walk which is quite suitable for families although the road does a have a reasonable incline which is mediated by the winding trail.

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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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Central lake and gardens

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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Lesser-wanderer butterfly

 

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

Cheers

Baz

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