Tag Archives: brown snake

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

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Robe…..raptors, reptiles and rough roads

7 Feb

Dear Reader:

To be entirely honest, the track hadn’t looked too difficult. My tyres were suitably deflated and the little Suzuki had a punchy V6 motor. What the hell! I backed up onto the hard packed dirt road, gunned the motor and headed up the sand dune towards the beach, scaring the daylights out of a pair of emus that had been feeding in the coastal scrub.

A pair of emus feeding in the coastal scrub

A pair of emus feeding in the coastal scrub

 

 

Marker posts driven into the sand had indicated the route was suitable for 4WD but I lost a little traction on the climb and one wheel slipped off the trail. The car slid, the sand pushed up hard underneath and there I was, stuck. Over the next half an hour I tried every way I could think of to get free from the sand trap; brush under the wheels, digging out some of the sand wedged under the chassis and swearing in several languages; all to no avail. I wasn’t going anywhere.

The edge of a coastal dune

The edge of a coastal dune

 

 

Feeling rather stupid and just a tad worried, it was 40C and though I had a water bottle and my mobile phone, it was a good hour’s walk back to the main road. Furthermore, I couldn’t remember seeing any signs of habitation when I had driven from Robe into the Little Dip Conservation Park earlier in the day. But my choices were somewhat limited and so, with my camera slung over my shoulder, I started off to get some help.

Numerous frehwater lakes in the the conservaion park provide a haven for wildlife

Numerous frehwater lakes in the the conservaion park provide a haven for wildlife

 

 

Within half an hour of trudging along the sandy trail I realised this was going to be a hard walk. Every 30 minutes I found a little shade took a sip out of the bottle and rested for 5. Eventually I reached the junction of the trail and the main road back to town. Sitting quietly in the shade of a park information sign, I sipped on my water bottle and waited for a few minutes in the hope that another vehicle might be heading my way. No such luck, but a rather feisty bearded dragon did saunter across the road and give me a long hard stare before disappearing into the scrub.

Bearded dragons tend to freeze when threatened relying on their camouflage to avoid predators

Bearded dragons tend to freeze when threatened relying on their camouflage to avoid predators

 

 

Suitably unrefreshed and distinctly grumpy, I started along the road back to Robe. Earlier in the day and in stark contrast to my present predicament, I had been enjoying a civilised meal of local crayfish and salad in a boutique restaurant. After a couple of kilometres I noticed a swamp harrier that had settled on a fence line after scanning the fields for prey. The fence ended  in a cattle grid  near a long driveway that led to a farmhouse that I had not seen earlier. It was one of those typically Australian country homes, old sandstone with return verandahs that spoke of generations of farmers that worked this rugged landscape.

A swamp harrier rests on a fence post

A swamp harrier rests on a fence post

 

 

It turned out that I was in luck. The farmer, who was tired of rescuing inexperienced off roaders, kindly offered me a drink and some sandwiches. When I told him I was in the park photographing wildlife for a children’s book on reptiles he shared some of the interesting encounters with native animals he had experienced recently. Ten minutes turned into a couple of hours and because of our mutual interest in natural history, he offered to use the farm truck to haul me off the dune.

The kindness of strangers

The kindness of strangers

 

As we approached my SUV I noticed the curved imprint of a large snake that had taken shelter under the front of the vehicle. Now that would have made a good shot!!

A brown snake flicks out its forked tongue to pick up chemical signals given off by prey.

A brown snake flicks out its forked tongue to pick up chemical signals given off by prey.

 

 

With the car back on track we sat in the scrub and had a cold drink before I headed back for a shower and a good night’s rest. Offering to pay for my rescue did not seem appropriate. Instead, I promised to send him some copies of the wildlife books I had recently written for his grandchildren and to stop in for coffee the next time I headed down to Robe and the limestone coast.

Many of Robe's restaurants, galleries and B&Bs are based in classic old buildings

Many of Robe’s restaurants, galleries and B&Bs are housed in classic old buildings

 

 

Until our next excursion

BAZ

PS

I think the raptor is a swamp harrier; any help on this identification would be appreciated

B

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