Tag Archives: cormorant

Veale Garden’s Bird Life

3 Jul

Veale Garden’s Bird Life

 Dear Reader;

There is a posse of bandits in the trees around me. Noisy miners with their black masked faces and highly social behaviour resemble just that, especially when they are defending their territory. Today it is a magpie that is on the receiving end of their aggressive chattering and aerial sorties. Despite its size, the magpie soon leaves the area and the miners return to their foraging and socialising in the trees.

Noisy Miner glaring at magpie

 

Australian magpie

 

I am in Veale Gardens, a lovely green space that borders South Terrace on the very fringe of Adelaide’s CBD. I have been attending a convention in the Adelaide Pavilion which caters for a range of functions from weddings to corporate events. After a superb lunch I am taking advantage of these charming gardens to enjoy some urban wildlife. Lawns, trees, flower beds, tall trees and a little brook that runs through the area make it ideal for a little environmental decompression on the edge of the city.

Veale Gardens Creek

In one shaded area of the creek there is a small pool that is attracting several different species of water birds. A male and female Pacific black duck are resting on the rocks at the edge of the water.  Nearby a little pied cormorant is perched a little further along the rock wall near a small waterfall. The predatory bird is watching the water intently for prey such as small fish, yabbies and frogs which it will chase underwater using its wings like flippers.

Pacific black ducks

 

Little pied cormorant

 

There are many other bird species around the gardens especially in the tall eucalypts that run along South Terrace. My favourites are the corellas which congregate in the trees and on the well tended lawns probing for bulbs and tubers in the grass. Their raucous calls can be heard as extensive flocks fly over the city to their roosting sites in the late afternoon.

Corella

 

It has been a rewarding lunchtime stroll around the gardens but the convention beckons and it is time to put away the camera and listen to another speaker extolling the benefits of the city’s parklands to the general health and well being of the public…..quite ironic really.

 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.

 

Port Gawler

2 Jan

Port Gawler

Dear Reader:

The road from highway one to Port Gawler has a rural feel about it. There are crops and glasshouses, sheep and horses. At the same time the flowering gums punctuate the grassy verge attracting a range of parrots.

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Curious horses

 

Several kilometres pass and I notice the terrain start to change. Pasture gives way to low coastal scrub and tidal channels appear alongside the road. The bird life changes too. Herons, ibises, sandpipers and plovers replace the woodland and urban species I have been observing.

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Galah

 

Finally the scrub gives way to mangroves and the dense ticket of maritime trees stretch all the way to the nearby ocean. I can hear singing honeyeaters foraging in the foliage and a plethora of insects buzz between the tangled trunks and muddy substrate.

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Great egret

 

The road is now unsealed and it ends at an old ruined wharf where weathered jetty poles protrude from the water. A little pied cormorant perches on one of them surveying its hunting zone while drying its wings in the sun.

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Mangrove forest and tidal creek

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Mud life

 

I spend the next few minutes exploring the edge of the mangrove swamp watching for mangrove crabs and small molluscs that live around the strange root like protrusions that emerge from mud throughout the forest. They are called pneumatophores and help the trees breathe in the sticky anaerobic mud.

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Old wharf remains

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Little pied cormoranr

 

The temperature starts to climb and I decide it’s time to head back home while a solitary nankeen kestrel hovers over this fascinating tidal wetland watching me drive back to the highway.

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Nankeen kestrel

 

Cheers

Baz

 

 Additional notes

This is an easy drive and walk which is suitable for families and seniors. However there are no nearby public facilities.

It is also a conservation park with restrictions regarding pets, fires and other activities…check online.

North Adelaide……the lion circuit

8 May

Dear Reader:

It is a mild sunny morning and I am enjoying one of my favourite bike rides. Starting at The Lion Hotel I ride away from the city along Melbourne Street to the Park Terrace intersection. The street is an eclectic mixture of cafes and niche retailers selling anything from clothes to antiques and Persian rugs.

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Classic old building converted into shops and galleries

 

 

Crossing Park terrace I wind my way through narrow streets and past some lovely old homes to intersect the path that runs alongside the Torrens River before it hits the city proper. The river has cut a narrow gorge through the ochre coloured rocks and tall eucalypts dominate the trail. A pair of rainbow lorikeets is fussing around a nesting hole and one bird takes flight as I dismount to take a closer look.

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Rainbow lorikeets nesting

 

 

A wooden boardwalk descends towards the river and the weir that controls the water flow. Common pigeons can often be seen foraging along the steep hillside early in the mornings. I think that the clay might supplement their diet and aid digestion.

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Boardwalk trail along the river

 

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Common pigeon feeding on cliff-side

 

 

Where the walkway levels out a small bridge splits the trail with one path leading back into the city and the other north east to the foothills. I head for the city. The track is flatter here and I pass numerous joggers and other cyclists all enjoying the fine weather.

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Foot and cycle crossing near St Peters

 

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Large dragonfly resting in a bottle brush near the river bank

 

Just past the little foot bridge the path sweeps under the much larger Hackney Road Bridge that carries the majority of traffic into the eastern side of the city. Here, the river widens, slows and becomes the Torrens Lake. As if to herald the change, a graceful snowy egret stands sentinel-like amongst the reeds watching for prey. Further along the waterway, a great cormorant perches close by with similar intent. These larger predatory water birds seem to indicate a greater abundance of prey in the lake.

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Signage explains Aboriginal connections and other historical facts

 

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Great Cormorant perching on the lake behind the zoo

 

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Egret hunting in reeds

 

 

Although the path follows the lake right along the northern edge of the city, I only ride a couple of hundred metres further to the Frome Road Bridge. Pausing briefly to take in the view of the lake, city and zoo from the top of the bridge, I turn right and head past the playing fields riding parallel to Mackinnon Parade through an avenue of massive, stately eucalypts. Cyclists, joggers and football players of all codes share this green space with cockatoos and other parrots that squawk in the trees and feed in the grass.

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Cockatoo foraging on the oval near McKinnon Parade

 

 

Left near the end of the tree line and I’m back where I started and ready for coffee or breakfast at The Lion.

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Back at The Lion

 

 

A brilliant way to spend the morning!!

Try it some time!!!

Cheers

Baz

Fur, Feathers and Football

2 Aug

Dear Reader:

Winter in Adelaide brings its own special pleasures. The hills lose their brownish tinge, the sea is wilder, different flowers are in bloom and the wildlife changes as some species head to warmer climes and others replace them. But to many Adelaideans, winter also heralds the footy (AFL) season and a rather spectacular upgrade to the already picturesque Adelaide oval has added a new dimension to the watching this uniquely Australian sport. The venue has also brought up to 50 000 spectators to the banks of the Torrens Lake on a weekly pilgrimage to support their teams.

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Footy fans on the new bridge to the stadium

Today the crowd is flowing over the lake on the glass and steel bridge with their silver, black and teal scarves whipping in the breeze while I am under it with the teal wing flashes of a black duck locked into my viewfinder. Just a few moments earlier I had also been on the receiving end of a severe telling off from a pied cormorant that took exception to my presence near its favourite fishing spot on the river bank.

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Black duck

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Get away from my patch

I had cycled into town just prior to the match to take some pictures of the new stadium to promote it as one of the many attractions the city boasts. As I walked along the river bank I was distracted by the abundance of winter wildlife and the various animals’ indifference to the huge influx of people above them. And the thought occurred to me; if a few fans arrived early or stayed later they could take in some of the natural wonders that the city has to offer as well as enjoying the sport.

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Australian water rat heading back into the lake.

Leaving the cormorant to its protestations, the duck to its scratching and the crowd to their game, I decide to work my way along the eastern bank of the lake towards the weir. No more than two meters in front of me I can see the tell tale V shape ripples of an Australian native water rat hunting close to the dock that fronts the rowing club. The little mammal hops up on the wooden edge every few minutes to eat a freshwater mussel, yabbie or frog that it has caught. An extraordinary encounter with a very shy Australian native mammal.

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Australian pelican foraging along the bank

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Black swan in nest made from twigs, reeds and debris

Closer to the weir the reeds are quite dense providing a perfect habitat for Australian pelicans and black swans. The pelicans forage along the banks for fish and invertebrates while the swans have constructed a nest alongside some protective netting that is being used to re establish native aquatic plants.

My winter walk along the Torrens has been more than a little rewarding and I am looking forward to a cup of coffee at the little café by the weir where I will check on the footy scores while I can still hear the  intermittent roars of the crowd in the background.

Until next time

Cheers

Baz

Moonta Bay: above and below the water

21 Sep

Dear Reader:

It is a lovely afternoon and I am sitting on the balcony of a friend’s beach house gazing across the calm waters of Moonta Bay. The light is soft and despite an unseasonably hot spring day there is a gentle sea breeze ruffling the bushes and coastal grasses on the edge of the steep cliffs that drop down to the beach. I have been watching a pair of rabbits cautiously emerging from their burrows in the soft sand; endearing little creatures but unwelcome guests in this area where they eat the native plants and damage the delicate balance of the cliff top ecology.

Wild rabbits amongst succulent and grasses on the cliff top

Wild rabbits amongst succulent and grasses on the cliff top

As night approaches and the sun drops below the horizon the rabbits become more active. A flock of gulls flies in V formation across the skyline and I retreat into the study to avoid some early season mosquitoes and reflect on my day. The sunset is quite spectacular and provides some inspiration to set pen to paper.

Moonta Bay at sunset

The journey from Adelaide across the flat coastal plains and scrub hedged wheat fields  was an easy couple of hours. I stopped at a local pub and grabbed a bite to eat then pushed on to Moonta. With only one night at my disposal I spent the early part of the afternoon wandering amongst the old mine ruins. A little gecko clung miraculously to the smooth surface of an old mine bucket and a pair of swallows had made a neat little nest behind a wooden beam that protruded from a square stone tower. But strangely it was the colours in the rocks that caught my attention as they hinted at the wealth of copper that was extracted from this area in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

throughout the old quarry the rocks are stll tinged with the coper ore

Throughout the old quarry many of the rocks are tinged with the copper ore

From the mine it was a short drive down to the seashore and jetty with its art deco styled motel and restaurant nestled into the low cliffs. A stroll along the stained hardwood planks out to the end where it curves to run parallel to the shore brought back childhood memories of weekends fishing and playing cricket on the huge expanse of beach that is exposed when the tide recedes. But on this occasion the child’s rod and line were replaced by camera and notebook. Near the shoreline I stopped by a rocky outcrop to watch a pied cormorant hunting amongst the weed and rock-pools; its body seeming to take on the fluid persona of the water as it twisted and turned in search of small fish and crabs.

Pied cormorant hunting amongst the shallow rock pools

Pied cormorant hunting amongst the shallow rock pools

 A little further along the jetty, where the shallow water starts to turn darker hinting at the meadow of seagrass beneath, a flotilla of seabirds were patrolling; an indication  that there might be baitfish in the area. With this in mind I trotted back to the car and donned my snorkelling gear to take a closer look. I was not disappointed as several schools of small fish were congregating in the deeper water beyond the rocky outcrop. 

A school of baitfish congregate below the jetty

A school of juvenile mullet feeding below the jetty

The sunset is well over and the  forecast indicates fine weather with calm seas for the next few days.  I’ll probably do a little more snorkelling near the rocky outcrop before walking along the coastal trail to watch the seabirds and search for reptiles and insects.

 

Until next time

Cheers

Baz

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