Tag Archives: Australian birds

Torrens Island

1 Oct

Torrens Island and its causeway entrance are situated over the Torrens Island Bridge at the end of The Grand Trunkway in Port Adelaide; about a 30 minute drive from Adelaide’s CBD. The island is closed to the public but the small breakwater and causeway are open. Most of the island is a conservation park with the remaining area housing the power stations and some historic sites.

Road across breakwater looking back at hills

The island if flat and covered with mangroves, samphire and saltbush. The causeway has no vegetation. The mangroves that are accessible from the causeway and road are actually situated on Garden Island. The causeway forms a barrier between the Angas inlet on the left and the warm water outlet from the power station on the right as you face the power station.

Black-shouldered Kite perched on light pole

Numerous fish species including bream, mullet, whiting and Mulloway are attracted to the warm water. In turn, predatory birds such as: herons, pelicans, terns, gulls, cormorants and egrets are found in this area. Small mangrove crabs are found under the rocks in the intertidal region. Dolphins are not uncommon and best spotted from the bridge.  A population of common rats live among the rocks feeding on discarded bait but they are rarely seen during daylight hours.

Little Egret hunting near mangroves

The dominant vegetation seen from the causeway is the Grey Mangrove with small amounts of samphire. At low tide there are seagrass meadows visible through the fencing on the mudflats to the left facing the power station.

Mangrove leaves and fruit….note the waxy top and rough, paler underside where salt crystals accumulate.

Prior to European settlement the mangrove and samphire swamp areas were a rich hunting and gathering region for the local Kaurna people. They would have caught crabs and speared or netted fish as well as collecting shellfish.

Torrens Island power station

Torrens Island was named after Robert Torrens senior who was chairman of the SA Colonisation Commission. Between 1870 and 1980 it was a quarantine station for both animals and people entering the state. During World War 1 the island was used as an internment camp for citizens of German and Austrian backgrounds. Since 1963 much of the island and surrounding water have been protected areas and part of different marine reserves. Three power stations are operating on the island: Torrens Island PS since 1963, Quarrantine PS since 2002 and finally Barker Inlet PS since 2009. All are gas powered.

Fishing as the sun goes down

Fishing from the rocky causeway in the warm water outlet is popular. There are fine views of the ships’ graveyard and its wrecks from the bridge. Tours of the old quarantine facilities can be arranged through the maritime museum in Port Adelaide. In short, quite an interesting place to visit and combine with a day at Port Adelaide.

Cheers

Baz

Additional notes

This is an easy destination to visit and is quite suitable for families and seniors.

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.

 Click on this link and see more South Australian stories and pictures in my Weekend Notes articles

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Rainbow Parrots……..1

2 Aug

As well as continuing to write posts describing South Australia’s best natural and urban destinations and their associated wildlife; I will be posting some shorter pieces focussing entirely on one species or idea.

Dear Reader:

I am sitting on the front porch watching the street’s wildlife. There are a few New Holland Honeyeaters hawking for insects and a small group of Crested Pigeons congregating on the newly mown nature strip. Always a good time to look for food. But it is the brightly coloured Rainbow Lorikeets in the Hackberry Tree opposite that really catch my attention as they balance on the thin branches to feed on the small, dark berries. 

Hackberries for dinner

These energetic little parrots do not feed quietly; they squawk and chatter to each other as they bounce, balance and flutter amongst the foliage in search of the ripest fruit. And, while these birds feed on the Hackberries another group are tucking into the last blooms of my flowering gums in the backyard.

Blossoms for desset

Rainbow Lorikeets (Trichoglossus haematodus) are smallish parrots with around 30 cms in length wih a wingspan around 40 cms. Their main foods are blossoms, nectar, seeds, fruit and sometimes insects. They have brush like tongues for collecting pollen and sharp beaks capable of biting into fruit and crushing seeds. Rainbow Lorikeets are often considered a nuisance by people who have fruit trees in their yards.

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.

Click on this link and see more South Australian stories and pictures in my Weekend Notes articles

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Houseboat Day 5…..At Caudo Winery

2 Jul

Dear Reader:

The gum tree alongside the boat is massive. Its branches extend well over the bank and river. These River Gums are a sanctuary for many species that live along the Murray providing homes for myriad invertebrates, birds, reptiles and even mammals such as bats and possums. At the moment, I can see a Yellow Rosella perched high in the canopy. A long shot but certainly gettable with my Nikon P900.

Yellow Rosella

We have tied up the houseboat at Caudo Winery after a lovely cruise along the river which was quite productive when it came to wildlife; as I mentioned in my last post. The winery is a perfect pause for lunch and wine tasting on a river trip from Morgan, and the staff are both helpful and knowledgeable.

Houseboat and winery outdoor area

After a sip of a local white, I am ostensibly a non-drinker but love a little taste to simply enjoy the flavours, I decided to take an exploratory wander around the grounds. Another Red Gum, even larger than the first, towers over an open paddock on the property’s edge. Peering through the long lens I can make out a Corella nesting in a dead branch. While I am watching the Corella’s mate flies in and they exchange places.

Short-beaked Corella in nesting hole

Turning my attention from the larger animals I start to hunt around under the half-shed bark and understory by the base of the gum trees; always a good place to find insects, spiders and reptiles. I am not disappointed, discovering some beetles and small coppery skink that I have yet to identify.

Pie Dish Beetle species
Unknown skink species

My stroll is brought to a pleasant end when a couple the houseboat crew send me a quick text about pizzas hot from the oven being served in the next few minutes. Pizzas, fine wines, good company a bit of wildlife….a pretty good afternoon on the Murray River.

Cheers

Baz

This is an easy trip which is quite suitable for families and seniors with all facilities on board, only a driver’s license required to drive and boat training provided by the company prior to departure.

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.

Click on this link and see more South Australian stories and pictures in my Weekend Notes articles

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Secretive South Aussies

1 Mar

Dear Reader:

The diminutive birds look like mottled balls of feathers darting through the undergrowth. It is time to just sit and wait until one settles long enough to let me focus and fire. A keeper arrives and spreads some mealworms across the floor of the enclosure. Temerity is temporarily discarded and the Stubble Quail come out of hiding to feed. The Birds still move quickly as they peck at the mealworms and I must switch the camera to shutter priority which I have permanently set at 1/2000 of a second on my P900.

 

Stubble Quail feeding

Virtually all the photographs for my posts and the books I write are taken ‘in the field’ at the location I am exploring. However, sometimes there are animals that I see, hear or find traces of, but cannot photograph. For some of these species, wildlife parks, museums and zoos are an invaluable resource. Today, I am collecting images from Cleland Wildlife Park in the Adelaide Hills near Crafers and Mount Lofty; about a twenty minute drive from Adelaide’s CBD.

 

Inland Taipan

Near the exit and shop there is a building that houses nocturnal animals and a range of reptiles. Having gained permission to use limited flash photography, it can stress and annoy certain animals, I decide to target venomous snakes. When shooting through glass enclosures it is necessary to angle the flash to prevent the light from bouncing straight back into the lens. Luckily several of the snakes are active in their enclosures.

 

Eastern Brown Snake forked tongue protruding

In several decades of photographing wildlife I have seen very few venomous snakes and those I have encountered have been shy and almost impossible to photograph in any detail. Limiting my attempts because of the flash stress factor, I manage to get a couple of reasonable images of an Inland Taipan and an Eastern Brown Snake with its forked tongue protruding. The forked tongue that all snakes and monitor lizards possess, allows the reptiles to pick up tiny particles emitted by prey and determine direction and distance using a special feature known as the Jacobsen’s organ. The process is much the same as our two ears being set apart determining the direction of a sound based on the intensity and volume being different for each ear. By the way; snakes do not have ears but can feel vibrations through the ground.

 

Princess Parrot

South Australia has many beautiful bird species and it is often difficult to get near some of them in the wild. In addition, some species like Princess Parrots are quite rare or live in extremely remote areas. With this in mind, I stroll through one of the ‘walk-through’ aviaries in search of birds I have not previously encountered or photographed.

 

Ringtail Possum

Most South Australians know and recognise the common Brushtail Possums that frequent urban backyards and sometimes, to the dismay of residents, their roofs. It is the slightly smaller and endearing Ringtail Possum that is less often seen. To this end, I have arranged with an education officer to photograph the ringtail they use in lessons about our native marsupials. She carries the little marsupial out in a hessian sack and places it on a tree branch. I wait for the most natural pose and capture a couple of images.

With possum and possum image safely ‘in the bag’ it is time for lunch and a little retail therapy at the café and souvenir shop. The food is good and I am pleased to say that I find a copy of my last book ‘Discovering Adelaide’s Wildlife’, on the shelf. I never tire of Cleland and will return again in the cooler weather to add to my  ‘hard to get’ wildlife, photographic collection.  

Cheers

Baz

Additional notes

These images were taken using a Nikon Coolpix P900 camera

This is an easy excursion which is quite suitable for families and seniors with public toilets, parking, restaurant and other facilities on site.

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.

Click on this link and see more South Australian stories and pictures in my Weekend Notes articles

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

Houseboat Day 2 Lizards and Falcons

30 Jan

Dear Reader:

The cliffs rise steeply from the river’s surface. There are definite divisions in the strata indicating various periods in geological time. Tree roots, wind, water and the sun have weathered the rocky surface creating shallow caves, overhangs and depressions providing shelter for a variety of wildlife.

 

Typical limestone cliff scenery

We are travelling upstream from Morgan in our rented houseboat towards the little township of Cadell. Named after Francis Cadell, an early steamship navigator and explorer, the town sits in the Cadell Valley which is a Citrus and grape growing region. There is accommodation, a general store, second-hand shops, heritage centre and a ferry crossing.

 

Murray River Ferry at Cadell

The ochre coloured cliffs are home to numerous bird species but photographing them from a moving boat is challenging. I pick out what appears to be a family of raptors huddled in a narrow space near the cliff top and train the powerful lens of my Nikon P900 on the group. It is difficult to get a clear image. Nevertheless, I fire off half a dozen frames to work on later.

 

Fleeting glimpse of a raptor family on the cliff……shot from a moving boat at about 120 metres

Further down the river I notice some larger birds of prey. One is perched near a nest and the other sits on a eucalyptus branch overhanging the water. *They are either young White Breasted Sea Eagles or a juvenile kite species, possibly Whistling Kites.  

 

Eagle or Kite…..let me know please

The reeds and branches that line the edge of the river are home to a variety of waterbirds including: Black Ducks, Dusky Moorhens, Purple Swamp Hens, Pied Cormorants and Anhingas often called Snake birds. I focus on an Anhinga resting on a fallen branch.

 

Anhinga perching….note the webbed feet and spear-like beak

We moor the boat near a wide bend in the river and set up for an evening barbecue. I take a walk along the river bank and find a quiet place to sit and wait for the wildlife to appear; an approach that often pays dividends. I can hear the twittering of wrens and finches the rustling of other small animals in the undergrowth. Several small skinks appear on a log but they are too quick and timid for me to get a clear image. Moments later a Shingleback lizard emerges from leaf litter. Unaware of my presence the lizard comes quite close to me. When I lift the camera to get a shot it turns to face me, opens its mouth wide extending it bright blue tongue in a defensive display.

 

Shingleback or Sleepy lizard

Leaving the lizard to its meanderings in search of food and with a similar thought in mind I return to the boat for our evening barbecue. Full of steak, sausage and salad I go back through the days images and to my delight and surprise the raptors I photographed turn out to be Peregrine Falcons.

 

Peregrine Falcon at distance on the cliff face

Two days out and I have encountered quite a lot of wildlife. Who knows what the next day will bring.

Cheers

Baz

*If anyone can identify these birds please contact me and I will change the text accordingly

Additional notes

This is an easy boat trip which is quite suitable for families and seniors and only a current driving licence is required to operate a houseboat.

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.

Click on this link and see more South Australian stories and pictures in my Weekend Notes articles

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

Houseboat Adventures Morgan Day 1

2 Jan

Dear Reader:

The road is ‘dead set’ straight for kilometre after kilometre. Expanses of saltbush and mallee scrub border the highway. While driving I scan the bush for wildlife. Crows perch on branches, an occasional parrot flies in front of the vehicle and there is the inevitable road-kill. I ease my foot onto the brake and pull over. Hundreds of meters across the saltbush, on the woodland fringe, I can see a pair of emus. My Nikon P900 is an excellent tool for locating an image at this range but even the 83X zoom is challenged when it comes to getting a good clear shot.

 

Emus at distance

I am driving to Morgan, an historic town on the River Murray about 160 kms from Adelaide. Morgan was a busy river port during the 1800s with hundreds of paddle steamers delivering goods prior to the advent of railways and more recently motor vehicle transport. However, this colourful history has given rise to Morgan’s current attractions; heritage docks, museum, renovated paddle steamer, historic trails and two wonderful, old pubs.

 

Books and bric a brac

Sandra at the helm

 

I am meeting friends for a week-long houseboat trip exploring this stretch of the river. Each afternoon we will pull into the bank at a different location, stay there overnight then head off again in the morning. For my companions it is an ideal way to spend some down time away from their busy lives. For me, it means long walks to explore and photograph each location, editing images and writing up notes as well as capturing images from the boat as it cruises along.

 

Whale vertebrate fossils

 

Our boat docked

Before we leave Morgan I take a stroll along the river bank towards the old wharf. It seems like a good place to look for animals that thrive close to human habitation. I can see swallows hawking across the water and picking off insects in the air but they rarely settle and photographing them in flight takes a better photographer than me. However, I do manage to spot a beautiful Eastern Water Skink catching the late afternoon sun.

 

Wharf, cliffs and old paddle-steamer being restored

 

Eastern Water Skink

Pleased with my final image, I head back to the boat for dinner and a pleasant evening socialising with friends before we set off up-stream in the morning to another location and a fresh adventure.

Cheers

Baz

Additional notes

Only a driving license is required to operate a houseboat. We used Foxtail Houseboats and were more than pleased with their level of service.

Please pass on this blog title/contact information (URL) to any person or organisation with an interest in taking walks and enjoying wildlife in SA.

Click on this link and see more South Australian stories and pictures in my Weekend Notes articles

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Hannaford Hump Drive

2 Dec

Dear Reader:

I leave the bitumen and continue along a well graded, unsealed road. A landscape of rural pasture and scrub borders the dirt road overhung by tall eucalypts. I stop on the verge and scan the trees with my long lens. While I search for wildlife visually, I hear the faint thumping call of a Common Bronzewing. It takes a few minutes to locate the bird but I eventually find it perched on a branch just in camera range.

 

Common Bronzewing

I am taking a late afternoon drive along the quirkily named Hannaford Hump Road which branches off One Tree Hill Road north east of the roundabout junction with Golden Grove Road in the suburb of Greenwith. Hannaford Hump then becomes Airstrip Road which leads to the sealed Mt Gawler Road. Both Hannaford Hump and Airstrip Roads are surrounded by large areas of accessible scrub and rural countryside dotted with small properties and farms.

 

Roadside bush

A little further along Hannaford Hump Road I park the car and walk along one of several fire tracks that lead into the Mount Crawford Forest Reserve. The well maintained track is skirted by dense scrub dominated by low growing gums, acacias and a variety of native bushes, grasses and ground covers….a botanist’s dream.

 

Fire track entrance

Flax-Leafed Logania

I walk a kilometre along the track stopping frequently to listen for bird calls. In this bushland setting it is best to let the wildlife come to you as animals are wary of anything that appears to be stalking them. I catch sight of numerous wrens, finches and other small birds darting between bushes but photographing them is nigh on impossible. Eventually a pair of Adelaide Rosellas perch on a dead branch at extreme camera range and I take the shot steadying the camera against a tree trunk. The vibration reduction in my Nikon P900 works well and I get a passable result considering the distance and fading light. 

 

Adelaide Rosellas

Further along the road I stop at another fire track. This one is flanked by even denser bush and some taller shrubs and gums as well as a smattering of grass trees. I find a narrow opening in the scrub and walk in about twenty metres then sit quietly. Small birds are flitting between branches but they are hard to line up. Eventually one settles close enough to get a clear shot. Later I determine it to be a thornbill species; probably a Red Striated Thornbill.

 

Striated Red Thornbill…probably

Evening is closing in and the light is making photography more challenging so I turn for home and watch the other, more rural side of the road as I drive. Unexpectedly, I notice some kangaroos feeding in the long grass. When I stop to take a shot I catch sight of a crow perched on a branch; perfectly silhouetted against the wheat coloured background.

 

Australian Raven

Western Grey Kangaroos in grassland

Small group (mob) of Western Grey Kangaroos feeding at dusk

It has been a really wonderful drive along this unusually named road so close to the suburbs yet rarely explored by the nearby residents. In fact there are many trails, tracks and roads throughout this part of the foothills that are worth exploring when you have a few hours to spare.

Cheers

Baz

Additional notes

This is an easy drive and simple walks, which are quite suitable for families and seniors.

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/

Coronavirus Lockdown Day 2…..Feeding the Kids

21 Nov

Coronavirus Lockdown Day 2…..Feeding the Kids

Dear Reader:

Even though it is the end of spring a number of bird species are still feeding their newly hatched offspring. Blackbirds, Honeyeaters. and Wattlebirds and Rainbow Lorikeets have all raised young in and around my garden. And, it has been a real treat to watch a range of different behaviours.

 

Got one

Got lots

Blackbirds are a non-native species but I must admit to enjoying their beautiful range of songs. When their young are hatched both males and females feed them. However, it is the males that I have observed collecting worms, grubs and spiders from the garden especially when the ground is wet after the watering system has come on during the early morning. Males are easy to distinguish as they have black plumage with a yellow ring around the eye. Females are brown with no distinctive eye marking.

 

Please

 

 

OK

Red Wattlebirds are the largest of the honeyeaters and they are aggressively territorial. Like most species wattlebirds continue to feed their young after leaving the nest until the they can fly and fend for themselves. During this time they are extremely vulnerable and many fall prey to cats, foxes and birds of prey.

I hope you have enjoyed these to Lock Down posts and continue to follow my blog and enjoy virtual visits to many of SA’s wonderful wildlife destinations.  

Cheers

Baz

If you follow my blog then I apologise for the delay as it took a while to get the best shots. In the meantime, our restrictions have been shortened. As a consequence, this will be my last Coronavirus Lockdown blog and I will return to my usual one or two blogs per month.

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.

Click on this link and see more South Australian stories and pictures in my Weekend Notes articles

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Lockdown day 1……… Ratty Steps Out

19 Nov

It’s ‘bloody’ hot for November and to make matters worse we are locked down for the next 6 days due to a Coronavirus cluster. A sensible response by our state government however inconvenient it might seem. For me that means no roaming the city and bush camera in hand. Consequently, I shall focus on my own back yard for the next few days and share my observations with you.

Rainbow Lorikeets tucking in

Each morning I spike an apple and two orange halves to the top of the trellis down by the washing line then scatter bird seed and some small cat biscuits across the lawn and flower beds. In addition, a bell-shaped commercial seed mass sits in an unused hanging basket. This little avian feast plus two bird baths usually attracts a variety of diners from blackbirds to mudlarks and parrots.

 

Ratty and seed bell

Today the birds have a rival. A Grey Rat shoots out from underneath a tangled growth of ivy and chases them. It climbs to the top of the trellis and starts to nibble on the seed bell. Over the next couple of hours this rat/bird pantomime continues and I get the distinct impression that the rat is playing a game as it frequently avoids the food only to hide then rush out again.

My observation are at an end as dinner time approaches.

I will write again tomorrow.

Enjoy your garden and take care in these difficult times.

Cheers

Baz

All of these images were shot on a Canon EOS1300D and Tamron 18-400

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.

Click on this link and see more South Australian stories and pictures in my Weekend Notes articles

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Spring Garden Moments

3 Nov

Dear Reader:

There is a Mudlark foraging in the garden bed. At first I think it is searching for food. The garden has just been watered which makes it easy for birds to probe the soft soil for grubs. Besides, there may be a few seeds left over from those that I scatter each morning for the doves. I peer through the telephoto lens and realise that the little bird is collecting small twigs and leaves from the mulch around the flowers. It is also adding mud from the soft soil around the sprinkler head. Ahh; realisation dawns. Nest building time.

 

Magpie Lark with nesting material in beak

 

Spring has arrived in my Prospect garden and all about there are signs of the changing seasons. Flowers are blooming and insects are hatching. Tiny Lynx Spiders are hunting amongst the blossoms and leaves, and a variety of colourful bugs are crawling across the foliage.

Lynx Spider with prey

 

The Mudlarks have flown off and I can walk around the garden without scaring the nervous little birds away. I take stock of the different flowers that are emerging; bright yellow and white daisies, tangerine Abutilons, and pink Rock Roses. They attract a wide range of small creatures and I get close enough to a yellow daisy bush to capture images of a Hoverfly, Shield Bug and Woolly Bear caterpillar all feeding on the same plant.

 

Jewell Bug
Woolly Bear Caterpillar feeding on emerging blossom

 

Spring also heralds a time of intense gardening with plants to trim and weeds to pull. And it is while I am cutting back a patch of Lantana that I disturb a lovely, slender lizard about 15 cms in length. I take note of its hiding place and get the camera. Luckily the lizard hasn’t moved too far and I manage a couple of nice shots. It is probably a Four-toed Earless Skink.

 

Skink digging into soil

 

I sit back at my garden table, rest the camera on my lap and watch the honeyeaters flying between the blossoms and hawking for insects. They appear to be feeding young ones that are roaming around in the undergrowth. There is also a pair of blackbirds hunting for worms and grubs where I have extracted weeds from the lawn. They get a mouthful of the wriggling creatures then fly off; obviously feeding chicks too.

 

Blackbird with beak full of goodies for chicks

 

All of these events are occurring in the back garden but I know there are different interactions in the front yard. Armed with a camera and cup of tea I sit on the front porch and wait for something to happen….I do not have to ‘sit and sip’ for long. A pair of Rainbow Lorikeets fly into a nesting hole in one of the White Cedars that line my street. A nice way to end a spring garden experience.

 

Rainbow Lorikeet perching
Rainbow Lorikeet entering nesting hole

Check out what is happening in your garden and share some observations in the comments section of my blog.   

Cheers

Baz

For this [project I used a Canon Eos camera and a Tamron 16-400 lens which helped me work in lower light conditions and for close up macro images….very versatile set up.

Please pass on my blog title and or contact information (URL) to any person or organisation with an interest in taking walks and enjoying wildlife in SA.

Click on this link and see more South Australian stories and pictures in my Weekend Notes articles

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

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