Tag Archives: Australian raven

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

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Kestrels at the Cape

25 Jul

Dear Reader:

It is late morning on a fine winter’s day and I am leaving the dirt road from Victor Harbor to join the main route back to Adelaide. As I round the curve the descent towards the coast is quite spectacular. From the top of the hill the road drops away sharply providing a panoramic view of open pastures dotted with small dams and patches of native vegetation. A corridor of lazy blue ocean separates the mainland from the island, which appears as a hazy outline on the horizon.

View from the top

View from the top (click to enlarge)

Closer to the coast a dirt track leads to a viewing point alongside a small stand of low trees and bushes. From the elevated position I watch the Sealink ferry crossing Backstairs Passage and stop to take a shot as it docks at the terminal below. While I focus on the ship I can hear the twittering of finches in the nearby scrub and catch a fleeting glimpse of two brightly coloured rosellas gliding into one of the taller bushes.

Rosella feeding in accacia tree

Rosella feeding in acacia tree (click to enlarge)

Sealink ferry docking at Cape Jervis with Kangaroo Island in background

Sealink ferry docking at Cape Jervis with Kangaroo Island in background (click to enlarge)

The ferry from Kangaroo Island docks at Cape Jervis on the southern tip of the Fleurieu Peninsula. It is one of my favourite places in the South Australia; from the little coastal hamlet you can visit local beaches and dive spots, access the Deep Creek Conservation Park, organise a charter fishing expedition or take a day trip to Kangaroo Island.

Rocky outcrops extending into the sea

Rocky outcrops extending into the sea (click to enlarge)

From the lookout I follow the road down to the lighthouse and park on a track a hundred metres back from the sea. The shoreline is a geology lesson in itself, with weathered ridges of dark rock ‘criss-crossed’ by veins of quartz, jutting into the ocean and patches of coarse sand and fractured rocks abutting the low earthen cliffs. In the distance I can see a line of giant wind turbines silhouetted on a faraway hilltop and the smell of salt air combined with the sound of waves breaking amongst the rocks fills my senses.

Nankeen kestral hovering above beach

Nankeen kestrel hovering above beach (click to enlarge)

As I move up the foreshore, picking my way between the boulders, I can see two  kestrels hovering over the beach. They seem to be systematically working together; one hovers for  a few minutes over the rocks then moves on while the other works the grassy slopes a little further inland. By pure chance they are slowly coming towards me so I lift the camera skyward and try to remain as still as humanly possible until the birds are almost directly above. I fire off a dozen shots and smile at my good fortune.

Monarch butterfly

Monarch butterfly (click to enlarge)

Pied crmorant by rockpool

Pied cormorant by rock pool (click to enlarge)

Raven with nesting material

Raven with nesting material (click to enlarge)

My walk provides a few more interesting moments: a cluster of monarch butterflies in a shrub that looks like milkweed, a lone pied cormorant sunning itself on one of the rocky outcrops that reach into the sea and a raven that is tearing up seaweed on the breakwater for nesting material. However, while I sit in the ferry terminal sipping a coffee, watching passengers returning from KI and reviewing my images I realise that it is the kestrels that have really made my day.

Cheers

Baz

Rapid Bay’s Misty Morning Predators

5 Jul

Dear Reader:

The road drops sharply from a cloud enveloped ridge top to the beach then emerges from the mist alongside a small creek. The sky is clearer close to the ocean and I can see the familiar outline of the steep cliffs and the twin jetties that jut out into the gulf. It is a chilly winter’s morning and my hands are cold as I organise my back pack and cameras ready for a stroll along the seafront.

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The creek at Rapid Bay (click to enlarge)

Two large birds are flying slowly along the beach front; in the early morning light they seem to resemble pacific gulls, a fairly common species along this part of the coast. I track the seabirds with my long lens and fire off a series of shots and quickly review them. Although the light mist obscured the birds’ features to the naked eye the captured images reveal a pleasant surprise. The wing feathers, tail shape and characteristically curved beak indicate a far more interesting and less common bird….the white breasted sea eagle. A little further down the coast I can see the eagles rise up on a thermal alongside the cliffs as they soar in tight spirals before resuming their beach patrol.

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White breasted sea eagle (click to enlarge)

The beach with its high cliffs, creek and mining jetty define one of the Fleurieu Peninsula’s most interesting and historic locations; Rapid Bay.  It was here that Adelaide’s original surveyor Colonel Light anchored his brig ‘The Rapid’ in the sheltered bay uttering the words “I have hardly seen a place I like better”.  Only 100 kms south of Adelaide, Rapid Bay is a prime location for divers and anglers. It is also  holds a significant place in the lore of several local Aboriginal peoples; a feature of the area that I will explore in more depth at a later date.

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Anglers on the jetty (click to enlarge)

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Southern calamari (click to enlarge)

From the beach front I walk along a short dirt road to the jetty. A couple of fishers tell me that a sea lion has been hunting in the shallows between the new and old jetty. After a few minutes a sleek grey shape twists and turns in the water only a dozen metres away and a whiskery face pops up, surveys the surface and is gone as suddenly as it appeared. The anglers tell me that they have tossed a couple of squid to it and that the sealion has been around the jetties for the last couple of days.

sealion 1

Australian sealion (click to enlarge)

I watch the men jigging for squid for a few more minutes before returning to the car which is parked near the creek. As I pack up my gear I can hear the sound of finches in the bushes and reeds but it is difficult to focus on the tiny birds especially in these low light conditions. While I am concentrating on the tiny birds a large raven appears on the nearby embankment with a piece of squid in its beak and proceeds to tear the rubbery flesh apart while keeping a wary eye on me and croaking out a few warning calls to any other would be scavengers that might fancy a calamari entree.

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Little raven (click to enlarge)

Eagles, sealions, squid and even a dolphin that cruises past as I leave the jetty; it has been a morning of predators and scavengers both aquatic and aerial. And now it is my turn to grab a bite to eat. Leonard’s Mill, a renovated flour mill, is one of my favourite dining spots and on the main highway to town a mere 15 kms from the Rapid Bay turn off. Their calamari is on the menu as salt and pepper squid and best enjoyed with a fine white wine from the local vineyards.

Cheers

Baz

The Art of Nature

17 May

The metallic sculpture sits in the middle of a shady pool. The polished industrial surface in stark contrast to the delicate blue kingfisher that the artist has crafted to pose, lifelike, on its extremity. But it seems that the artist has done the job too well as the supposedly fabricated kingfisher suddenly takes to the air. I have rarely seen sacred kingfishers in the hills and to find one conveniently posed on a sculpture in a pond is simply too good to believe.

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Sacred kingfisher….. click to enlarge

 

I am strolling around ‘The Cedars’ the privately owned property near the tourist hamlet of Hahndorf in the Adelaide hills which is open to the public and host many art displays throughout the year. It was home to South Australia’s most famous artist, Sir Hans Heysen. The German born Heysen moved to SA in 1884 at age 7 where he was inspired by the beautiful and rugged countryside of the Adelaide Hills. He painted rural and landscape scenes for over 70 years in many SA locations before his death in 1968 The home and studio are set in 60 hectares of open woodland and scrub and wandering amongst the bush it is not difficult to see how the area inspired him.

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Heysen’s studio….. click to enlarge

 

From ‘shady pool’ I climb the gentle slope above Heysen’s studio to explore a stand of Eucalypts. I can hear the warbling of magpies and screech of lorikeets. Half way up the incline I notice another piece of art work. Several crows are balanced on a table peering into glass specimen jars full of postcards. Nearby a pair of genuine, organic crows are perched in some bushes searching for food with their piercing blue eyes. In reality, the birds we commonly refer to as crows are more likely to be Australia ravens as the true crows are usually found further north in drier conditions.

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Crow art

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Crow/Raven….. click to enlarge

 

A little further along the trail I discover yet another art work hidden in the scrub: a pair of dung beetles rolling a globe. This piece seems to reflect on the state of the planet as seen by one artist. From this site I take a short walk to the house where Hans Heysen and later his daughter Nora lived and worked. The well kept garden features an eclectic mix of native and exotic flowering plants, the perfect place to find some beetles though not the dung variety which are more typical of Africa not Australia. After a little searching amongst the agapanthus, roses and native species I discover a brown flower beetle crawling across an agapanthus blossom.

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Dung beetles….. click to enlarge

2 brown flower beetle on white agapanthus (2) red

Brown flower beetle….. click to enlarge

 

My walk has been both entertaining and informative with each animal species mirrored by a piece of art: a lovely way to spend an autumn afternoon.

 

Until our next adventure

Baz

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