Tag Archives: crescent honeyeater

Normanville’s Back Blocks and Coastal Walk

17 Sep

Normanville’s Back Blocks and Coastal Walk


Dear Reader:

The grey kangaroo is huge, a fully grown male with a couple of smaller females close by, half hidden in the scrub. As I approach, he rises up to his full height and eyes me with intent. I take half a step closer and he turns and shuffles closer to the fence. Then, with a single, effortless bound he clears it and disappears into the scrub further down the hillside.

2 roo

Fully grown male, grey kangaroo



Up and over

I am in an older part of Normanville on a hillside behind the beach houses and new developments. Large blocks of land are quite common here. Some still retain vestiges of the original pre-farming vegetation. Landowners with an interest in wilderness conservation have re-established endemic plants on many plots that in turn attract a plethora of native wildlife from ‘roos’ and kookaburras to colourful rosellas and even the odd echidna.


Grevillea species growing under the pink gums


Near the top of this particular block there is a stand of gnarled old pink gums where little crescent honeyeaters and several grey currawongs are sheltering from the light showers that are sweeping in from the sea a couple of kilometres away.


Grey currawong in pink gum


Crescent honeyeater sheltering from rain


Beneath the canopy of the trees there is a wide variety of native shrubs and ground covers that support both small birds and insects. Despite the cool weather I manage to find some shield bugs amongst the berries and flowers of a pink Geraldton wax bush. And in the branches above them a crimson rosella is calling to its mate in anticipation of a warmer spring day when they will be searching for nesting holes.

Common gum tree shield bug on Geraldton wax bush

Common gum tree shield bug on Geraldton wax bush


From the scrubby hillside I drive back down to the coast stopping in at the Normanville Hotel for a locally caught seafood meal; calamari, whiting and scallops. The beach is only five minutes from the hotel and I park where a coastal pathway sweeps around to Carrickalinga heads, an area that I frequently dived during my youth.


Late afternoon view of Carrickalinga heads from Normanville


The sun is getting low now and there are sparrows and honeyeaters settling in for the night in the bushes that flank the path. I can just make out a cormorant resting on the rocky foreshore shaking water from its wings before finding a place to roost. Sometimes this half light produces some of the more striking images that I have captured in the wild and today is no exception. I find a pair of crested pigeons perching on a skeletal branch with the grey sea and sky as their backdrop. They are my final memory of yet another memorable day spent enjoying South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula.

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Crested pigeons near walking trail to Carrickalinga


Take a drive down the coast sometime and enjoy this special place and its wildlife!!!



Jenkins Scrub

21 Mar

Dear Reader:

There are tiny birds flitting through the canopy and squabbling in the bushes either side of the walking trail that snakes its way through the scrub. Occasionally they settle for just a second or two and feed on Autumn’s few remaining blossoms or probe for insects beneath the bark. The birds move quickly, giving me just a split second to focus and fire; which is my excuse for some of these images not being quite as sharp as I would like. However, they do give an accurate depiction of what searching for wildlife images in dense scrub, is really like.


Grey fantail



Treecreeper species



After walking across a small footbridge, I find a clearing and sit on a fallen log and wait in the shadows for ten minutes. Birds are still twittering deep in the bushes, heard but not seen; but most have moved on.


Crescent honeyeater



Jenkins scrub is a remnant area of the original bushland that once covered the Adelaide hills. The light sandy soil supports a wide range of shrubs, grasses and delicate flowers including native orchids. Tall eucalyptus trees complete the ecosystem which is traversed by a series of narrow trails.


Classic hills scrub



The scrub lies just off the Springton road, a pleasant 50k hills drive from the city. A lunch stop at the Bakehouse Tavern in Williamstown, just 10 Kms from the park’s entrance, is a good way to break up the drive. Or, you can buy a pies and cake at the bakery to snack by the old cemetery on the edge of the adjoining pine forest; somewhere to explore the personal histories the people who settled this region. 


Pub at Williamstown



Graveyard from the old church



Hefting my long lens from the pack I continue my walk. The understory is littered with leaves and fallen branches which provide a home for a plethora of insect and retile species. There are quite a few butterflies in the area and every so often one settles in the leaf litter. They seem to spread their wings a couple of times then rest them upright exposing only the underneath which blend perfectly with the bleached leaves and twigs.


Meadow argus butterfly…..brilliant camouflage



Another hour’s walking produces a few more images, shot at long range, and a memorable encounter with a pair of kangaroos which are feeding deep in the bush. I try for a better angle to get a clear shot but they quickly hop into deeper cover. By the time I reach the car it is a welcome refuge as some large bush flies have emerged in the late afternoon and the insect repellent is in the glove box.

adel rosella

Adelaide rosella



Just as I am about to turn on the engine I hear the shrill call of rosellas. Luck is with me and the birds settle in a gum tree just within camera range of the car. Three quick frames and my day ends on a high or so I think. It turns out that the 2 Km drive back along the dirt to the Springton road has a final surprise; three young emus feeding in a field of stubble just a ‘stone’s throw’ from the roadside.

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Emus at dusk



Until our next adventure


Author in the office




The Old Talisker Mine

15 Nov

The view from the top of the hill is spectacular. Soft winter pasture still covers the ground in sharp contrast to the spiky Xantheria or grass plants that characterize the harsh coastal scrub and the blue of Baxter’s Passage and hazy profile of Kangaroo Island beckon on the horizon.


Backstair's passage and Kangaroo Island

Backstair’s passage and Kangaroo Island (double click to enlarge all images on this page)


As I get out of the 4WD to capture this image I notice a pair of western grey kangaroos on the edge of the scrub no more than 20 meters from the vehicle. They are wary, ears twitching and sniffing the air. One is considerably larger than the other. They are probably a mother with a joey at heel and her pouch looks a little enlarged suggesting that she may have another little one tucked away. There could even be two in the pouch; one permanently attached to the nipple while the other simply enjoys the ride. In good times kangaroos can multiply quickly.

Western greys by the track

Western greys by the track



I am in the Talisker National Park about an hour and a half journey from the city and 10 kms from Cape Jervis at the toe of the Fleurieu Peninsula. The park centres around a series of bush trails that surround an abandoned silver and lead mine dating from the 1860s. Old machinery, buildings and shafts add an historic dimension to an area rich in scenery and wildlife.

Crushing house and old boiler

Crushing house and old boiler



From my cliff top lookout I backtrack along the dirt roads to the entrance of the old Talisker mine site. The walking trail to the mine is not too steep but the scrub on both sides is dense and full of life. In both the treetops and bushes I can hear the calls of wrens and honeyeaters. Eventually one of the delicate little birds pauses on a branch to announce its territory.

Crescent honeyeater

Crescent honeyeater



The track ends in a small clearing where the rusted remains of crushers, boilers and old buildings mark the main site. They are all that is left of a mine that once was the workplace of dozens of miners and supported a community of 300 souls at nearby Silverton; now also long gone.

Pied currawong

Grey currawong



The buildings are surrounded by a forest of eucalypts and I can hear the more distinctive movements of a larger animal in the branches on the far side of the crushing plant. I focus my long lens on the area and start to search for the perpetrator, expecting another roo or even a possum disturbed from its daytime sno0ze. But it is a large crow-like bird that I spot amongst the leaves and branches, a pied currawong, a relative of the white backed magpies that are so common on the plains where I live. Currawongs are a group that I have rarely photographed successfully as they tend to be a little more wary than their magpie cousins.

Bush track surrounded by eucalypt forest near the park entrance

Leaving the park along a bush track



It has been quite a long day walking, driving and stalking wildlife and the ruins are a great place to sit and unpack a well anticipated lunch picked up at the local Yankalilla bakery; nothing flash, just a steak and mushroom pie and an indulgent apricot tart to round off the meal. Good South Aussie ‘tucker’ to fuel up for the walk up the hill and drive home.




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