Tag Archives: Australian parrots

Mildura to Trentham Estate Winery….part 2…..Around the Winery

18 Jun

Moored at the winery

 

Dear Reader:

We arrived at Trentham Estate Winery around 1.00 pm. After tying up and sprucing up, as we are eating at the winery, we wander ashore to indulge in a little pre-lunch wine tasting. Our meal is served under a large marquis with wonderful views of the river and surrounding countryside.

 

Coffee by the river

 

A sipbefore lunch

 

The Duck Breast in a Hoisin sauce is moist and cooked to perfection and coffee, dessert and good company make the afternoon fly. However, before the light disappears I take a walk upstream to explore the properties and bushland alongside the winery.

 

Peaceful Dove by the water

As I edge along the bank I notice Anhingas, Black Ducks (not the source of lunch) and some unusual doves. I wait behind a large river gum and manage to snag a shot of these smallish, striped birds which turn out to be Peaceful Doves.

 

Grey Butcherbird

 

Laughing Kookaburra

 

Further along the pathway I hear the first few notes of a Kookaburra’s call. The bird is perched on a dead tree branch and the Nikon P900’s telephoto is stretched close to maximum extension. In a thorny bush below the tree, I can just make out the outline of a Grey Butcherbird. Despite waiting for the bird to emerge I settle for an image taken through the branches; not a portrait shot but certainly a realistic one.

 

Yellow Rosella

 

Male and female Red-rumped Parrots

 

Parrots are feeding high in the trees which makes focussing difficult. There seems to be two distinct groups. Scanning the branches, I recognise Yellow Rosellas and Red-rumped Parrots. Both are beautiful birds which I rarely see in SA. 

 

Boatel coming in to dock

The light is beginning to fade and it’s time to get back to the boat. When I reach the mooring I can hardly miss the opulent vessel parked a little further on. It is called ‘Boatel’ for obvious reasons and is a luxury version of our houseboat constructed by the same company ‘All Seasons’.

However, our craft has luxury enough for this photographer and I am about to sit back and relax with a cup of coffee and a piece of cake.

Until my next blog, enjoy our wonderful wildlife and countryside.

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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Trentham winery

https://www.tripadvisor.com.au/Restaurant_Review-g255355-d1752428-Reviews-Trentham_Estate_Winery_Restaurant-Mildura_Victoria.html

 

Birdwood’s Cromer Conservation Park…….Part 2

11 Mar

Classic Cromer scrub

Dear Reader:

This is my second visit to the Cromer CP. Unlike my first wander around this unique patch of South Aussie scrub the immediate weather is not treating me in a kindly fashion with low clouds and mist forecast for the morning then clearing as the day progresses. Not great for detailed photography but it might add a different atmosphere to my images.

Roos in the fields

Close up shot from car

As I drive along the road from Birdwood I am forced to a stop to avoid a small group of Western Grey Kangaroos bounding in front of the car. They settle in a field and start to graze only looking up as I power down the window for a shot.

Thornbill species?

Treecreeper sp or Sitella sp

I enter the park from an unmarked gate on the far corner of the park about 1 km from the main entrance. A barely visible track runs into scrub which is dominated by two distinct types of eucalypts. The taller trees have smooth bark while the other’s is rougher and darker. There are small noisy birds flitting about in the canopy and despite the poor light I get a couple of shots at distance thanks to the extreme range of my Nikon P900. A bit of Photoshopping later suggests one is a variety of thornbill and the other a sitella or treecreeper species (any ID feedback would be welcome).

Cockies Galahs) in the mist

The track disappears after a few hundred metres and just where it peters out there is a small mound surrounded by old, rusted fencing. I take a closer look and discover, what appears to be,  a well or perhaps mine digging. There are several smaller unfenced depressions in the area and in one I catch a glimpse of a Blue Tongue Lizard just before it quickly disappears into the undergrowth. The sudden movement startles a pair of Galahs perched high above me. Despite the poor light I manage to capture a rather atmospheric image of the parrots.

Unknown skink species possibly a slider

To my delight the sun is starting to burn off the low cloud and blue skies allow for faster shutter speeds and more depth of field. I decide to turn my attention to the smaller animals inhabiting the park. Under a fallen log, I discover a plethora of life; roaches, a centipede plus a lovely striped skink, possibly a slider species. It has tiny legs and a long slender body for living in the leaf litter and under rocks and fallen branches. Further examination of the shot reveals a small spider by its tail.

Bakery delights at Birdwood

It is time to leave the park on this, my second visit, but I shall return in spring to witness the emergence of delicate wildflowers, birds building nests and roos breeding. Now it is time to obey the urges of my stomach clock and enjoy the calorific delights of the local bakery. So much to choose from but my walk in Cromer Conservation Park might justify my indulgence.     

Cheers

Baz

Additional notes

This is an easy walk which is quite suitable for families and seniors but care must be taken because of the pristine nature of the scrub and the possibility of snakes in the warmer months.

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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Birdwood’s Cromer Conservation Park… Part 1

26 Feb

Cromer Conservation Park… Part 1

Dear Reader:

Red and Pink Gums as well as Long Leafed Box trees tower above me. They echo with birdsong which ranges from the twittering of finches and pardalotes to the raucous calls of lorikeets. My Nikon P 900 has a phenomenal telephoto and I use it to scan the treetops in the hope of identifying the birds and capturing an image or two.

Eventually I spot a Red Wattlebird and a Musk Lorikeet close enough to photograph. The silhouette of the wattlebird calling is a particularly pleasing image. While I continue to search the foliage for a makeable shot I watch a pair of Adelaide Rosellas flit between trees and high above me a kestrel is circling.

My destination today is the Cromer Conservation Park about 5 Kms from Birdwood. This small, fenced off section of bush is all that remains of the original scrub that once blanketed this part of the ranges. As such, it is an important repository of endemic plant and animal species. Indeed, over 100 bird species have been recorded in the park and I am sure plant and invertebrate tallies would also be high.

As I walk slowly along the main pathway near the boundary fence I notice another faint track winding into the scrub. I step cautiously and stop to listen every few paces. There is a rustle in the bush a dozen metres ahead and a Western Grey Kangaroo suddenly appears. We both freeze. I slide the Nikon up the rapid release strapping to eye level and take a wide angle shot for context then a close-up. The second click of the camera alerts the roo which swivels its ears, looks in my direction, then bounds away.

The sun is well up, the day is warming and with a rise in temperature the sounds of the scrub also change. Cicadas start to buzz and Fairy Wrens twitter in and around the grass trees which seem to be the centre of their territories. My morning walk is almost over therefore I decide to focus on the smaller plants and animals surrounding me. Although it is late summer there are still a few plants in bloom. The delicate, little Flax Lilies growing along this trail catch my attention. However, my final image for today is of a tiny speckled spider living under the bark of a long dead gum tree…….to be continued

Cox Scrub Conservation Park’s Wildlife…..Part 1. Entering from Coles Crossing

23 Jan

Old dairy building

Dear Reader:

It is a glorious day for a drive and some wildlife photography. The bitumen road winds past lush farmland and every so often I come across an old building that reminds me of the rich heritage this region of South Australia boasts. I keep a watchful eye out for kangaroos which are often seen grazing near stock and have been known to hop across the road even in the daylight hours. Rosellas and cockatoos fly between the eucalyptus trees fringing the road. I stop to capture an unusual image of two Galahs feeding on an embankment behind a barbed wire fence.

 

Galahs on embankment

I am exploring the Cox Scrub Conservation Park which is around an hour’s drive south of Adelaide’s CBD near Mt Compass and Ashbourne. It is one of the largest parks on the Fleurieu Peninsula. The park has numerous walking trails cutting through stands of Stringy Barks and a dense understory of Banksias and many other native shrubs. There are several entrances to the park and today I am starting at Cole’s Crossing where the Finniss River cuts through the north western perimeter of the conservation park.

 

Coles Crossing

He Coles Crossing track ends at a ford which is too deep to cross in the SUV but a great place to stop and eat lunch. There are small fish in the river and quite a lot of macroinvertebrates (tiny aquatic invertebrates like water boatmen and pond skaters) in the shallow water by the reeds. Several butterfly species are settling amongst exposed sand and pebbles to drink and I can see a Kookaburra perched on a dead tree branch about a hundred metres downstream.

 

Painted Lady

I follow a fence-line which skirts the river. There are numerous small birds twittering in the reeds and high in the canopy of the massive River Gums which tower over the water. I use the extreme telephoto on my Nikon P900 as a bird spotting tool then manage to get a half decent shot of a small honeyeater-like bird which I later identify as a Brown-headed Honeyeater (note to readers…please correct me if I am wrong with this ID).

 

Brown-headed Honeyeater

It has been interesting just pottering around the crossing but I want to enter the park from a different direction and see if there is any variation in the terrain and wildlife. However, that will be my next blog ‘Cox Scrub CP from Ridge and Bull Creek Roads’

Cheers

Baz

Additional notes

This is an easy walk and drive which is quite suitable for families.

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/

Morgan Houseboat Cruise…continued…….Day 5 Taylor Flat

14 Dec

Tight against the bank

Morgan Houseboat Cruise…continued…….

Dear Reader

,,,,,,,,Continued from last post…………… Having photographed a frolicking group of goats I head down to the main deck for lunch.

 

Classic dry-land scrub

We have pulled up alongside a fallen tree where there is a short stretch of sandy beach. The bank downstream rises quite sharply and there is dryland scrub all around us. This is difficult country for spotting wildlife as food is scarce and the animals extremely wary.

 

Watchful Sulphur Crests high in the tress…tricky low light situation and the Nikon P900 did well

I take my leave of the group telling them that I’ll be back in a couple of hours. Recently I have taken to wearing an Apple Watch that automatically signals emergency services and selected people if I should fall or need help. A great device for anyone who spends a lot of time alone, or in my case, in remote areas working on my own in the outdoors. Though, to be honest,  I am not totally alone as a pair of Sulphur Crested Cockatoos watch me from the safety of a tall red gum on the river’s edge.

 

Vines amongst the scrub

Machinery from another era

Walking directly east from the boat I notice a well-worn, dirt track that cuts inland then breaks to the right along the river. Several hundred metres along the trail the land is fenced off protecting rows of grapevines and not far away I find the remains of some heavy machinery lying rusted above the riverbank. Perhaps they are the remnants of a pumping station or a hoist for loading cargo on the old paddle steamers which plied these waters in the early part of the last century.

 

Antlion trap

Predator (Antlion) and prey

All around me there are cone shaped depressions in the sandy soil. They are the traps dug by Antlions. Unwary ants or other small, non-flying invertebrates fall down the sides and are unable to climb back out as the soil particles are rounded and slip back down to the centre where the ferocious little predator waits partially buried in the trap itself.

 

Tangle web

Web builder

There are also numerous spider webs in the branches of the low shrubs. They are quite extensive and designed to snare anything that falls into them. It takes me some time to find one of the eight-legged constructors as they are very small compared to their webs. Perhaps it is a colonial effort or a web that is built on each day…..a little more research is needed on this one!

My walk is over and its time to return to the boat for a meal and some good company. Tomorrow is our last day and I’m sure this beautiful river will yield a few more natural surprises as we motor on back to Morgan.  

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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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 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

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

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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