Tag Archives: Adelaide parklands

Walkerville’s Bickle Reserve…..Fairies in the Garden

4 Sep

Fairies in the Garden

Dear Reader:

As I have categorically stated in several of my posts, “I am no botanist”. I love gardening and appreciate the wonderful diversity of South Australia’s flora but remembering all the different classifications, names and botanical intricacies is just a little too much like hard work. Instead, I rely on a couple of field guides to common plants in the Adelaide area, phone a friend or simply make reference to those yellow bushes or tall straight eucalypts. Hopefully, this gap in my naturalistic armoury will be narrowed as I write more nature posts, though the signs are not promising. So: it is with some trepidation that I lead into the following piece …….


Pink fairy (Caladenia species)


The Torrens near Bickle Park

 ….It is a cool winter’s day, slightly overcast and I am on my knees examining a glorious little patch of native orchids. Most are pink fairies but there is one tiny delicate bloom, the size of a little finger nail, called a gnat or mosquito orchid. Nearby several of the flat prostrate leaves indicate where other orchids will appear in the near future.


Gnat orchid (Cyrtostylis species)

All of these species are endemic to the area and though a few might have grown naturally, most are the result of a dedicated group of volunteers who are revegetating this area which is part of the Vale Park Wildflower Walk. The section I am exploring is alongside the Torrens River just east of the autobahn bridge near the Bickle Reserve. Several of the Vale Park group are holding an open morning and explaining the importance and biology of the plants they have established.


Chatting about orchids


Native Wisteria (Hardenbergia)


Purple swamp hen

As I listen to information about the relationship of certain fungi in the soil to the propagation of orchids and marvel at the spidery native clematis and hardenbergia that are climbing up some eucalypts (big tall ones) I notice a pair of purple swamp hens foraging in the long grass by the river. Leaving the group I pursue the birds and make my way along the bank where there are also dusky moorhens in the reeds and crested pigeons feeding near the bikeway.

IMG_8059 edit

Dusky moorehen

Rejoining the group I chat about the importance of maintaining our wild heritage for future generations and learn about Aboriginal use of some types of native plants including orchids. Predictably in this group I encounter another wildlife photographer and the conversation fluctuates between nature and the lenses we have used for different purposes.


An occasional visitor

In the course of our conversations one of the replanting team asks me if I have any images from the area and I remember that on a bike ride along this part of the linear park trail I had photographed a koala high in the largest eucalypt overshadowing the orchid beds. But, in keeping with my botanical prowess I forget to ask what kind of species it is (probably a tall, straight one).

Until the next journey into SA’s natural wonders




Check out Geotravelling a new site that I have attached that celebrates the natural, cultural and urban diversity of our planet through my travel photographs.

North Adelaide……the lion circuit

8 May

Dear Reader:

It is a mild sunny morning and I am enjoying one of my favourite bike rides. Starting at The Lion Hotel I ride away from the city along Melbourne Street to the Park Terrace intersection. The street is an eclectic mixture of cafes and niche retailers selling anything from clothes to antiques and Persian rugs.


Classic old building converted into shops and galleries



Crossing Park terrace I wind my way through narrow streets and past some lovely old homes to intersect the path that runs alongside the Torrens River before it hits the city proper. The river has cut a narrow gorge through the ochre coloured rocks and tall eucalypts dominate the trail. A pair of rainbow lorikeets is fussing around a nesting hole and one bird takes flight as I dismount to take a closer look.


Rainbow lorikeets nesting



A wooden boardwalk descends towards the river and the weir that controls the water flow. Common pigeons can often be seen foraging along the steep hillside early in the mornings. I think that the clay might supplement their diet and aid digestion.


Boardwalk trail along the river



Common pigeon feeding on cliff-side



Where the walkway levels out a small bridge splits the trail with one path leading back into the city and the other north east to the foothills. I head for the city. The track is flatter here and I pass numerous joggers and other cyclists all enjoying the fine weather.


Foot and cycle crossing near St Peters



Large dragonfly resting in a bottle brush near the river bank


Just past the little foot bridge the path sweeps under the much larger Hackney Road Bridge that carries the majority of traffic into the eastern side of the city. Here, the river widens, slows and becomes the Torrens Lake. As if to herald the change, a graceful snowy egret stands sentinel-like amongst the reeds watching for prey. Further along the waterway, a great cormorant perches close by with similar intent. These larger predatory water birds seem to indicate a greater abundance of prey in the lake.


Signage explains Aboriginal connections and other historical facts



Great Cormorant perching on the lake behind the zoo


egret edit

Egret hunting in reeds



Although the path follows the lake right along the northern edge of the city, I only ride a couple of hundred metres further to the Frome Road Bridge. Pausing briefly to take in the view of the lake, city and zoo from the top of the bridge, I turn right and head past the playing fields riding parallel to Mackinnon Parade through an avenue of massive, stately eucalypts. Cyclists, joggers and football players of all codes share this green space with cockatoos and other parrots that squawk in the trees and feed in the grass.


Cockatoo foraging on the oval near McKinnon Parade



Left near the end of the tree line and I’m back where I started and ready for coffee or breakfast at The Lion.


Back at The Lion



A brilliant way to spend the morning!!

Try it some time!!!



Mad March Possums

5 Apr

Dear reader

Each season in our southern state has its own natural highlights, For many March in Adelaide is a very special month; one where culture and wildlife seem to interconnect in rather unusual ways.

The city of Adelaide is separated from the outer suburbs by over 760 hectares of parklands. They consist of playing fields, open woodland, creeks and gardens. Most of the year, the parklands are frequented by joggers, cyclists and picnicking families. However, each March the serenity of the eastern parklands is replaced by the roar of V8 motors, the rhythms of international music and a surreal feast of various performing artists.

A Open woodland environment of the Adelaide parklands

A Open woodland environment of the Adelaide parklands

Now, you would think that such an onslaught of humanity; its sounds, lights and smells would frighten the daylights out of the parklands’ resident wildlife. Admittedly, the local birds do seem a little more nervous and the resident bat population somewhat more erratic in their coming and goings. On the other hand, the possum population seems to relish the activity. Although they are not obvious to the casual observer, when the troubadours, drivers and musicians retire for the night these masters of the nocturnal world emerge to search for the spoils of the day.

Fruit Bats or Grey- headed Flying -foxes are found in the Botanic Gardens which are situated within  the Parklands

Fruit bats or grey- headed flying -foxes are found in the Botanic Gardens which are situated within the Parklands

Over the last few years I have enjoyed the city’s March festivities and often wandered down the east end to take in a concert, play or watch the ‘V8 Supercars’ burn up the track. This year, I decided to walk home after a late night performance and was more than surprised to see a couple of common brushtail possums foraging near an overflowing trash can. Normally solitary, these cat sizes marsupials seemed indifferent to each other as they sought out some apple and banana leftovers, a welcome change to their usual diet of leaves, buds and native fruits. I was aware that possum numbers had generally declined throughout the state due to habitat changes and predation by feral animals, most notably cats. I watched them for a while thinking to myself that if a little party food on the side bolstered their survival chances who was I to take the purist stand on natural diets for our indigenous species.

Brush Tail Possums use their delicate paws and sharp claws for feeding, climbing and grooming

Brush tail possums use their delicate paws and sharp claws for feeding, climbing and grooming

Unfortunately, I was not carrying a camera and decided to return the next evening at the unearthly hour of 4 am armed with my DSLR and long lens, in the hope of capturing a few shots. I was not disappointed. One particular animal that was sitting by the side of a trash can taking stock of the menu decided to climb up into a nearby tree as I approached. Staring defiantly at me as I adjusted the flash setting to suit the telephoto, it conveniently struck a number of typically possum-like poses then promptly disappeared into the upper branches once the modelling session had finished.

A possum's yellow fur shows where its pouch is situated

The yellowish fur on a female possum’s fur shows where its pouch is situated

I crossed to the other side of the road and scanned some native pine trees with a high powered flashlight. The stand of trees was situated just inside the perimeter fence of the aptly named ‘Garden of Unearthly Delights’, one of the festivals most notorious attractions. I was hoping to flush out a ringtail possum, a smaller less frequently seen species. Unfortunately there were none to be found but I did manage to find a brushtail climbing the trunk of a large pine using its prehensile tail to hold on while testing the capability of a smaller branch to bear its weight.

Brushtail Possum foraging in a native pine tree

Brushtail possum using its prehensile tail while foraging in a native pine tree

On the whole it was a successful night though I would dearly have liked to see a ringtail. Perhaps another night when sleep eludes me and the lure of the city’s indigenous nightlife beckons I’ll capture that image.



Golf Course Birdies

9 Mar

Dear Reader

Adelaide has a diverse collection of golf courses. They wind along the coast, straddle the hills face and even overlook the heart of the city. Their well-watered fairways, native bushes and towering trees provide an attractive habitat for a wide variety of wildlife ranging from kangaroos and possums to waterfowl and colourful parrots.

Well watered fairways and a diverse collection of shrubs and trees provide an enticing array of niches for different bird species

Well watered fairways and a diverse collection of shrubs and trees provide an enticing array of environments for wildlife

This week’s story comes from one of the two inner city courses that stretch between the Torrens Lake and the fine old villas and tree-lined streets of North Adelaide. They are back to back public courses that are used by walkers, golfers and, of course, the occasional wildlife photographer.

An Adelaide rosella nonchalently feeds on seeds as a golfer strolls past

An Adelaide rosella nonchalantly feeds on seeds as a golfer strolls past

My morning walk started around eight and my quarry was the various groups of cockatoos that I had noticed feeding on the fairways earlier in the week. Although the birds are up and about just after dawn the light is not really conducive to capturing quality images in the early hours. As I strolled past the clubhouse towards one of the greens near the end of the course I heard the unmistakeable chatter of galahs (rose-breasted cockatoos). A quick glance around the area and I discovered half a dozen birds in a nearby patch of rough using their powerful, curved beaks to dig out tubers and crack open fallen seeds.

Galah searching for seeds amongst leaf litter below pine trees 2

Galah searching for seeds amongst leaf litter below pine trees

After a few minutes I left the cockies to their morning meal and moved across the course to a stand of tall, pale Eucalypts. As I scanned the canopy for movement several of the feeding birds flew onto a branch and started to groom each other. This was an unusual behaviour that I had not previously observed in galahs though I am sure these gregarious parrots interact socially in many ways. Perhaps they were a nesting pair and an older offspring. The grooming continued for a few minutes then escalated into a good natured session of sparring with beaks and wings that looked remarkably like a wrestling match.

Galahs socialising after flying into a Eucalyptus tree

Galahs socialising after flying into a Eucalyptus tree

My final cockatoo encounter was with a small group of little corellas near the car parking area. They were using their powerful beaks and claws to break up pine cones and extract the seeds. The birds seemed oblivious to me as they worked away at their hard won meal and I was able to sit and watch them for some time.

Little Corella demolishing a pine cone

Little corella demolishing a pine cone



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