Tag Archives: Australian wildlife

Winninowie National Park and Chinaman’s Creek

3 Sep

Winninowie National Park and Chinaman’s Creek

Dear Reader:

The track to Winninowie National Park comes off the main highway between Port Germein and Port Augusta. Low flat scrub borders the road on both sides with the coast in front and the Flinders Ranges foothills behind. Barbed wire fencing keeps small groups of sheep from wandering onto the road. Crested Pigeons, Galahs and some smaller unidentifiable bird species can be seen in the scraggly bushes bordering the pasture. In the distance I can just pick out a tree-line marking the edge of the national park: from there the road meanders towards the coast.

Typical coastal scrub

 A few hundred metres past the first stands of eucalypts we come across a smaller track veering to the left. The track has a sign that warns against use in wet weather but there has been a little rain over the last few days and today is fine and clear. We slip the vehicle into 4WD low range as a precaution and with a little slippage and much lurching, explore the trail.

Grey Butcherbird 

I tap Geoff on the shoulder and ask him to stop and power down his window. Only metres from the car, a Grey Butcherbird is perched on a dead tree branch. These fascinating birds have the rather unsavoury habit of impaling their prey on sharp branches where they are stored for later consumption. A kind of avian serial killer complete with trophies.

Euro in scrub

Our next encounter is on my side of the car. I notice a flash of grey in the undergrowth. Geoff sees it too and we slide to a halt. I am expecting to see a Western Grey Kangaroo and I am pleasantly surprised to spot a Wallaroo or Euro. These robust cousin of the more common Western Grey Kangaroo are more commonly found in the higher regions of the Flinders Ranges which form a backdrop to the coastal plain we are traversing.

Crested Pigeons 

Of course, the usual wildlife is abundant here; Australian Magpies, Crested Pigeons, a variety of parrots and even some Miner Birds. There are also Emus which occasionally sprint across the trail making photographing them almost impossible. Eventually I spot a small group way out in the scrub grazing under some trees. My Nikon P900 has excellent range and I tend to use it as a spotting scope at extreme distances. I decide to take a chance; stop the car rest and squeeze. Considering the range and lighting conditions I am pleasantly surprised by the result.

Emu at distance  

The track ends at a wide expanse of shallow beach coated in seaweed with a wonderful view across Gulf St Vincent to the low hills of the Eyre Peninsula. We return along the same path and then head down to Chinaman’s Creek; a little outpost set amongst mangroves with a few shacks and a boat ramp, an area I have written about previously.

Chinaman’s Creek 

After fossicking about in the mangroves it is time to head for home and lunch at Port Germein; a good half an hour’s driving time. We decide not to stop on the return drive unless something extraordinary makes an appearance and as a parting gift, that does happen. A loan Western Grey Kangaroo bolts in front of the car and presents the perfect picture with the foothills of the Flinders in the distance. Then one final encore as lovely Red Capped Robin sits in a thorn bush near the road………a nice way to end a perfect afternoon. 

Roo in flight

Red-capped Robin

Cheers

Baz

 Additional notes

This is an easy drive in dry weather which is quite suitable for families and seniors but requires 4wd in the wet. The National Park bans Dogs. 

 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/

Fish and Explore West Lakes Inlet

22 Jun

 Fish and Explore West Lakes Inlet 

Dear Reader:

The receding tide has left the mud flats exposed and several species of birds are making use of the food sources it presents. A Sooty Oyster Catcher is probing the mud for shellfish and a Masked Lapwing is looking for worms and other soft bodied animals. Their beaks, feet and hunting styles are well adapted for each individual diet.

 

Sooty Oystercatcher

 

Masked Lapwing

 

I am exploring the inlet between the Port River and West Lakes. The water flowers under Bower Road and there is access to both sides of the inlet. Lawns, shelters, public toilets and barbecues are available on the West Lakes side as well as free carparking and even a bike and skate park. Something for all the family!

 

Spinning for Salmon Trout

 

A nice Bream

 

On the Port side the water is flowing out swiftly and some anglers are casting for Salmon Trout while the lone fisherman on the West Lakes shore has caught a couple of sizeable Bream. The calmer waters of West Lakes allows me to explore some of the rock facings and photograph schools of small bait fish that are feeding on the surface.

 

Pied Cormorant

 

Both Black and Pied Cormorants are fishing in the area. They paddle along the surface for a while then dive and use their webbed feet and shortish wings to aid steering and propulsion underwater. Cormorants’ eyes are well adapted with special lenses that allow them to see clearly underwater. In addition, the jagged tooth like structures on the edges of their beaks enable them to grab and hold slippery fish.

 

Mangrove leaves and spider web

 

On the western side of the Port River Basin there is a significant growth of mangrove trees. They provide yet another significant environment. Numerous birds, insects, spiders and marine invertebrates inhabit this zone and it is very important as a breeding and nursery area for many marine fish species.

 

Small bait-fish feeding on the surface

 

My walk around the inlet has been most rewarding. Apart from the animals photographed I have also encountered Pelicans, Terns, Stilts and tiny Plovers. Grubbing around in the muddy areas on the fringes of the mangroves I found numerous shellfish species and some little mangrove crabs that live in holes and under rocks. 

 

Mangrove crab species

 

The West Lakes Inlet on Bower Road is certainly a diverse and interesting place to spend some time. Give it a try when you have a spare few hours.

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.

All the photographs for this article were taken using a Nikon Coolpix P900 

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/

Middle Beach Wildlife

2 Jun

Dear Reader:

The road is paved to start with then turns into a well graded, dirt track which leads into a small beachside settlement. There is both pasture, coastal wetland and a roadside corridor of scrub and gum trees along this approach road. These distinct environments provide fertile hunting grounds for raptors and I am lucky enough to spot two species before I get to the mangrove and beach environment I have come to explore. A Brown Falcon perched on an old fencepost and a Black Shouldered Kite precariously balanced on a power line.

 

Black-shouldered Kite

Brown Falcon

I am exploring Middle Beach, a coastal township set amongst mangrove stands and shallow beaches; about a forty-five-minute drive from the centre of Adelaide. There is a small boat launching ramp, numerous channels that wind through the mangroves and even a public toilet in this unique setting. Middle beach is renowned for crabbing and fishing and is well worth a visit if canoeing, birdwatching or angling are your thing.

 

Singing Honeyeater

Grebe species

 The mangroves are home to a wide variety of animals including dozens of local and migratory birds, but they are hard to spot and even harder to photograph. However, their varied calls are a familiar soundtrack every time I visit these coastal reaches. Today I am lucky enough to see a Singing Honeyeater and Grebe as I walk up the shallow channel towards the sea.

 

Samphire and Mangrove

  I spend another hour combing the beach and taking a few landscape shots of the receding tide and reddish growths of Samphire. I use the extreme magnification of the camera to watch Great Egrets, White Faced Herons and Ibises in the distance as they forage in the seagrasses. Unfortunately, they are all just out of range for a good shot, even with the extraordinary telephoto capabilities of my Nikon P900.

 

Bovine Family Portrait

Around the water tank

On the drive back to the main freeway I decide to concentrate on photographing the rural landscape and I am rewarded by some interesting images of cows and Ibises near an old water tank and a group of cows seemingly posing for a family portrait. A great way to finish my Middle Beach excursion.

Take a drive there and let me know what you think.

Cheers

Baz

 Additional notes

This is an easy walk/drive which is quite suitable for families and seniors with public toilets, parking and other facilities nearby. It is dog friendly.

See more South Australian stories and pictures in Weekend Notes

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

 I have recently spent time in Africa and the link below will allow you to enjoy images and field notes describing some of my encounters with the wonderful wildlife of Botswana and Zambia. I will try to attach a new image and notes each month.

https://wildlifemomentssa.blogspot.com

Coronablog 2, Mellow Yellow or how to pass the time in Corona Virus Isolation… Day 7

20 Apr

Mellow Yellow

 

Dear Reader:

As mentioned in my previous post (Coronablog 1) I am in isolation and exploring the wonders of my own garden rather than exploring South Australia’s rural and wild destinations.

 

Garden on the day

 

Yellow flowers

 

I am wandering around the garden observing the variety of creatures that live in, on and around yellow flowers. Yellow being the predominate colour of blossoms this time of year; early autumn. It is a little overcast which is not the best for creating vivid images but the absence of shadow does have the advantage of not frightening the timid creatures that live amongst the blossoms.

 

Gerbera and beetle

 

My first sighting is a tiny black beetle that is crawling across the petals of a bright yellow Gerbera. It resembles a lawn beetle, but in all honesty, there are so many beetle species, it is hard to identify.

 

Tiny Flower Spider

Munching the blossoms

Lynx Spider

The African Daisy bush has always been home to a variety of invertebrates from spiders and flies to caterpillars, and today is no exception. There is a ‘late-in-the season’ Woolly Bear Caterpillar munching on a flower bud, a tiny Flower Spider perched on a petal and a larger Lynx Spider poised on another bud ready to pounce on any unsuspecting prey.

 

Hoverfly

 

While I have been working on the African Daisy I can see some hoverflies buzzing around the more common white and yellow or English Daisy bush. These remarkable little insects are garden friendly as their larvae eat aphids. The black and yellow colouring mimics wasps and is a useful form of defence. Their ability to hover in one place then zip sideways is interesting to watch.

As you can see; by simply picking a theme and using some observation skills you can pass some pleasant hours exploring an aspect of your garden.

 Enjoy the solitude

Stay safe

 Cheers

Baz

 

See more South Australian stories and pictures in Weekend Notes

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

 I have recently spent time in Africa and the link below will allow you to enjoy images and field notes describing some of my encounters with the wonderful wildlife of Botswana and Zambia. I will try to attach a new image and notes each month.

https://wildlifemomentssa.blogspot.com

Coronablog 1 Purple Haze or how to pass the time in Corona Virus Isolation… Day 3

17 Apr

Purple Haze

Dear Reader:

I am confined, isolated, restricted and not certainly going anywhere. I flew in from interstate a couple of days ago so its 14 days house and garden captivity. However, as the purpose of my blog has always been to encourage people to explore whatever natural areas are at their disposal it is time for me to challenge myself and discover what is happening in my own backyard. And today it is exploring the purple flowers that are blossoming in this late autumn season……hence the title. Apologies for anyone expecting some guitar lessons a la Hendrix.

 

Coffee by the Lantana

 

Perhaps the most prolific insect attracter I have in the garden is a miniature, purple Lantana that forms a border with the footpath. Sitting on a sleeper, that is part of the low retaining wall that encloses the lawn, I can watch the comings and going of a selection of creatures visiting the plant.

 

A White with Cream under-wing

 

Tiny ants crawl along the stems and there are small flies feeding on the blossoms. An interesting selection but something bigger would be easier to shoot. After around ten minutes a lovely Cabbage White lands on a flower to feed.

 

Lynx Spider

 

As is so often the case; focussing on one animal increases one’s general perception and I notice that on a leaf adjacent to the butterfly there is a small Lynx Spider, a tiny predator that hunts other small invertebrates.

 

White-Banded Dart

 

It has been a wonderful way to ‘while away’ a few hours and with lunch in mind I reluctantly stand up to make my way indoors. But, Like the late-night adverts, ‘wait there is more’. A pair of lovely little Darter Butterflies settle on the bush for a few seconds and the flexibility of my Nikon P900 saves the moment as I focus and shoot in one smooth movement without having to change any settings.

Cheers on day 4 of isolation

Baz

PS New Blog coming soon for Days 5/6

 

 See more South Australian stories and pictures in Weekend Notes

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

 I have recently spent time in Africa and the link below will allow you to enjoy images and field notes describing some of my encounters with the wonderful wildlife of Botswana and Zambia. I will try to attach a new image and notes each month.

https://wildlifemomentssa.blogspot.com

Naracoorte’s Creekside Walk

18 Mar

Dear Reader:

It is a rather overcast day, predicted to warm up in the afternoon when the light will be better for taking photographs. However, I am making the best of the conditions as I walk beside the little creek bed that runs alongside the caravan and camping park. There are parrots high in the canopy but they are too difficult to see clearly. I am just about to give up when a woman calls too me from the other side of the creek where some lovely properties sit amongst well-tended lawns. “If you are interested, there are some Tawny Frogmouths in the tree on this side”. Needless to say, I am interested.

 

Tawny Frogmouths

 

Naracoorte is around a four hour’s drive south east of Adelaide and the caravan park has powered sites, camping areas and chalets. For families; there is a swimming lake (yes! a lake), putting course, small railway and plenty of running around space. The area around Naracoorte also has an abundance of wildlife parks as well as the world heritage Naracoorte Caves where you can delve into the mysteries of the megafauna (large animals) that still roamed this region a mere 15000 years ago.

 

Nearby Naracoorte Caves

 

As I cross a small bridge back to the pathway, I notice some parrots on the lawns. It is unusual to see two species of birds foraging side by side. In this instance there are both Galahs (Rose Breasted Cockatoos) and Red Rumped Parrots feeding together. They seem engrossed and I can get reasonably close before taking a shot.

 

Galahs and Red-Rumped Parrots

 

The creek bed close to the park is quite dry and a variety of grasses and bushes are growing in it. I can hear the twittering of wrens and occasionally I catch a glimpse of the iridescent blue plumage of male Superb Blue Wrens. However, it is the brightly coloured Red-browed Finches that are easier to photograph as they emerge from the thickets to feed on seeding grasses.

 

TRed-Browed Finch

 

As I make my way towards the town along the Creekside trail the nature of the waterway changes. Several large pools lead into a long channel traversed by a footbridge. Numerous aquatic birds including: Ducks, Moorhens and Swamphens are swimming and feeding in the water and amongst the reed beds.

 

Purple Swamphen

I crouch to get a low angle on a Purple Swamphen when a Kookaburra bursts out of the gum tree above me. I watch its flight path carefully and note that it is in another gum on the far side of the bank near the bridge. A tricky shot in the low light and shrouded by leaves. Once again my camera comes through and considering the difficult conditions I am able to get quite a reasonable image due to the versatility of my Nikon P900 and a little post- image Photoshop.

 

Kookaburra after some Photoshop magic

 

My stroll along the Creekside pathway is at an end and I can certainly endorse this walk to anyone visiting Naracoorte and interested in wildlife. The caravan park owner also recommended the Naracoorte Hotel for an excellent meal at a reasonable price; definitely my next stop, as it is only a couple of hundred metres from the footbridge crossing.

 

Creek and path near the footbridge

 

Cheers

Baz

Additional notes

This is an easy walk which is quite suitable for families and seniors with public toilets, barbecues, parking and other facilities nearby. It is dog friendly.

See more South Australian stories and pictures in Weekend Notes

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

 I have recently spent time in Africa and the link below will allow you to enjoy images and field notes describing some of my encounters with the wonderful wildlife of Botswana and Zambia. I will try to attach a new image and notes each month.

https://wildlifemomentssa.blogspot.com

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

Barrow Beach’s Dragons

26 Nov

It is a mild afternoon; a nice time for a drive down to one of my favourite outdoor destinations. Not well known or easily accessed, Barrow’s Beach is a half hour drive from Port Pirie and about fifteen minutes from Port Germein. A Google Earth hunt will best describe how to access the area, but beware; depending on weather and your desire for adventure, 4WD is recommended.

 

Typical terrain

 

We are scouting the beach for fishing spots and enjoying some wildlife photography at the same time. As we come off the track onto the beach I notice a group of Rose Breasted Cockatoos (Galahs) fossicking in the seaweed that has been washed up during stormy weather and high tides. Worth a shot as this is not their usual environment.

 

Beachside cockies

 

Further along the beach where the sand is quite tricky to negotiate a mixed flock of Pied Cormorants and Common Terns are resting on a sand bar. As we approach they take flight creating a lovely image as they pass low across the shallow water with the muted outline of the Flinders Ranges as a backdrop.

 

Formation flying

 

It seems that our drive is turning out to be more about wildlife than fishing. And our next few encounters highlight that idea. My fishing partner and driver Geoff traverses the beach and heads a back along a pot holed track overgrown with  wiry bushes and stunted trees . We stop several times to explore likely areas where reptiles, shore birds and even the odd kangaroo might be hiding.

 

Stay away

 

Kangaroos and shore birds do not seem to be on the menu in this area but we do flush out three separate species of lizards; a Shingleback, Bearded Dragon and a little Painted Dragon. Wonderful to see so many kinds of lizards in such a short period of time.

 

Glimpse of a dragon

 

Bearded dragon

Our trip is not ended and there is still much to see among the mangroves and little channels that flow through them but I shall leave that part of my adventure for another post in the future.

Cheers

Baz

Additional notes

This is a challenging drive with no facilities available. However once at the location walking is easy enough.

See more South Australian stories and pictures in Weekend Notes

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

 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 try to attach a new image and notes each month.

https://wildlifemomentssa.blogspot.com

Just Cruising 1

1 Jun

Just Cruising 1

Dear Reader:

There is a white faced heron picking its way precariously along the bow rail of the boat; probably heading for the shrimp bucket. In the meantime, two welcome swallows are resting on the mooring rope while they take a rest from their aerial, acrobatic insect hunts. These are two of the animals that make our houseboat a temporary home as we journey along the river.

 

Curious Heron

 

To date my blogs have always been about South Australia but the next few posts will stray just a little from my own state and take you just over the border to Mildura in Victoria. From this thriving community I will share some observation taken on a week-long houseboat trip along the Murray. The wildlife and scenery are much the same as in SA as we are cruising along a section of the river which runs close to all three states SA, Victoria and NSW.

 

Typical riverside scenery

 

Houseboats are a wonderful way to explore the river. They come in all shapes and sizes from luxury models with saunas, ensuite bathrooms and satellite television through to old fashioned paddle sided boats with two rooms and a basic kitchen. We travelled in rather luxurious style which I can fully recommend; and travelling in a group certainly made it a reasonably inexpensive holiday option.

 

A classic

 

Wildlife along the river is seasonal and dependent on a variety of conditions such as drought and ambient river levels. The long dry that we have experienced this year meant that the wildlife was sporadic and took a little effort to locate. However, as we varied our moorings between townships and bush there was always something to see when I took a walk and looked carefully.

What the????

 

At a bush mooring near the confluence of the Darling and Murray I spent a couple of hours walking through the scrub bordering the river. Whilst sitting on a log near a clump of acacia bushes some small bugs with ‘eye-lash- like’ antennae caught my attention. I spent a good half hour trying to get a reasonable shot. Sometimes the little things can be the most interesting and challenging to photograph.

 

Nesting Apostle bird

 

The rewards of exploring a new and unfamiliar region are many including the chance to encounter species that are rarely observed or at the best seen fleetingly at home. An apostle bird nesting in the eucalypts that shaded our mooring at Coomeala was a prime example. Locals told me that they are quite common but it was the first time I had seen one and to capture and image of it nesting was quite a thrill.

Sandra gets the double

 

There were many more encounters on this trip and they certainly warrant further posts under the heading ‘Just Cruising’ which seems to capture the mood of my week exploring the mighty Murray while relaxing with friends.

 

Cheers

Baz

 

Additional notes

This is an easy excursion which is quite suitable for families and seniors with toilets, barbecues and numerous facilities aboard.

 

 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 try to attach a new image and notes to accompany each post.

https://wildlifemomentssa.blogspot.com

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

 

­­­­ 

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

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