Tag Archives: flower spider

Wildlife and Wineries

15 Mar

Wildlife and Wineries

Dear Reader:

I can hear the first few notes of a kookaburra calling near some picnic tables across the other side of the green. The birds are usually quite shy and I don’t hold out much hope of sighting them with all the families enjoying their lunch on the grass. However, to my surprise there are two birds sitting on a low branch quite close to a group enjoying a BBQ and glass of wine. I have seen kookaburras steal a sausage in the past and these birds must be residents accustomed to life in the grounds of one of South Australia’s most notable wineries.

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Laughing kookaburras

 

Seppeltsfield winery in the Barossa Valley is a pleasant 50 minute drive from the city. Easily recognised by the avenue of huge palms at its entrance, the rambling complex encompasses: green spaces, bushland, old buildings, a family mausoleum, fine restaurant, cellar door facilities and even an art gallery; and that’s without even mentioning the sprawling vineyards. Established in 1851 the land was initially used for growing tobacco then wheat and finally grapes in the mid 1860s. Today, it is one of the nation’s most famous and revered wine wineries.

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Jam Factory gallery

 

I decide that a bushland trek in the area is not by best wildlife option. Today, I will simply wander around the grounds enjoying the animals that take advantage of the plantings, food and shelter that this popular rural setting can provide. My strategy pays off when a wattle bird hops down onto one of the slate tables just a few yards away. Like the kookaburras, wattle birds are fairly common but shy and often difficult to photograph. Having one so close is a rare opportunity.

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Wattle bird

 

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Picturesque grounds

From the picnic area I take a walk around the courtyards near the restaurant enjoying the tasteful landscaping and searching for insects amongst the plantings. There is a good selection of butterflies this time of year and several different kinds of tiny spiders are hunting amongst the flowers.

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Flower spider n blossoms

 

After a late afternoon meal ‘Local Garfish, Skordalia, Snowpeas and Vegetable Escabeche’ at ‘FINO’ and a sample sip of the wonderful vintage port that Seppeltsfield is renowned for, I call it a day. As I walk back out to the car park a young magpie fixes its gaze on me cocking its head to one side as if to bid me farewell

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Fond farewell from magpie gatekeeper

 

Cheers

Baz    

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Norwood’s Parade of Animals

29 Aug

Norwood’s Parade of Animals

 Dear Reader:

It has been rather a grey week but today the sun is showing its face at regular intervals and there is a blackbird singing in a tree above me. A good day for a walk around Norwood admiring the architecture before grabbing a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants and hotels that make the area a premier dining destination. But this old, established suburb with its towering trees and well-tended gardens also provides meals and homes for a wide variety of urban wildlife.

Juvenile male blackbird

1 One of the classic hotels in the Norwood area

One of the classic hotels in the Norwood area

 

Blackbird aside; the first indigenous species that grabs my attention is living between the petals of a bright yellow daisy bush. The diminutive flower spider hunts amongst the blooms for small insects. This one has ambushed a fly and is proceeding to wrap it in a web for a late afternoon snack.

2 Flower spider with lunch

Flower spider with lunch

 

A little further down the street I can hear the call of lorikeets as a pair of the colourful little parrots forage in the trees for seed and blossom. I follow them closely as they fly from the tree tops to a smooth barked gum tree right on the edge of Osmond Terrace, a busy boulevard that cuts through Norwood. Here, with traffic whizzing past, they are investigating a hole in the trunk as a potential nesting site.

2 Lorikeet feeding

Rainbow lorikeet feeding

2 Rainbow lorikeet scouting for real estate

Rainbow lorikeet scouting for real estate

2 Taking a closer look

Taking a closer look

2 Hey honey come take a look

Hey honey come take a look

 

Osmond Terrace is also home to a group of Australian magpies. I can see a raggedy nest high in one of the liquid amber trees that line the thoroughfare and when I focus the long lens on it, the head of a large chick is just visible. After ten minutes an adult bird arrives with a grub in its beak. A few minutes later I catch site of another bird digging for invertebrates in the lawn of a local school while a third sits, watching from the concrete facade of Vine House, one of the suburb’s historic buildings.

Adult magpie arriving at nest

Magpie feeding

Magpie feeding

keeping an eye on proceedings

Keeping an eye on proceedings

 

My final stop is Finn MacCool’s Irish Pub for lunch where a group of pigeons is also enjoying an alfresco bite to eat in slightly less salubrious circumstances. I started with an introduced species…might as well end on the same note.

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Common pigeons feeding on crumbs in the street

 

Until our next adventure

Cheers

Baz  

Check out Geotravelling a new site that I have attached that celebrates the natural, cultural and urban diversity of our planet through my travel photographs.

Yellow Flowers on a Winter’s Day

8 Aug

Dear Reader:

Adelaide is generally blessed by an amicable climate but it does have its grey days. Usually the winter showers are interspersed with long fine periods when the sun shines through the clouds and brightens up a chilly morning. Today was not one of those days.

1 Euryops or Little Sunray

Euryops or Little Sunray (click to enlarge)

I had been staying at some lovely little units on the edge of the foothills and planning to take some shots in the gardens to promote the virtues of a South Australian winter’s day but the weather refused to cooperate. It was overcast with a little drizzle and no sign that the curtain of clouds would lift. Undaunted, I headed into the manicured grounds looking for something to lift my spirits and lend a little colour to the day. Fortunately, the perfect candidate was growing right in front of my unit in the form of a robust Euryops bush; a non native, daisy species that blooms right through the winter months.

Hoverfly landing and feeeding on blossom (click to enlarge)

Hoverfly landing and feeding on blossom (click to enlarge)

Despite the cold weather, the bush appeared to be supporting a small but diverse population of insects some of which I would normally associate with the spring and summer months. A couple of hoverflies were sitting in the centre of the flowers probing them with their stout little proboscises. These hornet coloured little insects usually flit between flowers pausing for a brief instant to feed. The cool weather seemed to have slowed the insects down a little and made them for more amenable to having their portraits snapped.

Flower spider hunting amongst petals (click to enlarge)

Flower spider hunting amongst petals (click to enlarge)

 Euryops blossoms provide are the whole world for a common flower spider. I watched through my lens as one wait immobile on a petal for several minutes then moved to another one to maintain its frozen stance, primed for a sudden jump should either prey or predator come too close. During the day I caught glimpses of several different species of flower spiders and they are certainly an interesting group of common garden animals worth exploring further.

Fly feeding on blossom (click to enlarge)

Fly feeding on blossom (click to enlarge)

 The winter months see a decrease in virtually all arthropods especially spiders and insects. The common bush flies that can be a nuisance in summer and early autumn are a welcome absence in the winter. However, several of the more solitary species of flies seem to persist through this chilly season. Their iridescent green bodies and bright red eyes provide a striking contrast to the bright yellow flowers as they probe their dense centres searching for nectar in the delicate folds.

 Breakfast for two (click to enlarge)

Breakfast for two (click to enlarge)

 Perhaps the most prolific insects that I saw on this grey, chilly morning were the common woolly bear caterpillars that appeared to be munching both the leaves and flowers of my Euryops bush. These furry little creatures grow into black and white tiger moths and seem to be immune to the cold weather that decimates other insect populations. Indeed, I seem to remember that they can survive temperatures below freezing because of the glycerol, a form of anti-freeze, they produce.

 

Then the rain came down and sent me scampering inside for a glass of mulled wine and time to review the images I had captured while thinking about the next sunny day.

 

Until next time

Baz                      

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