Tag Archives: grey fantail

Meadows to Cox Scrub along Bull Creek Road

15 May

White-cheeked Rosella

Dear Reader:

There is a layby just a 400 meters along Bull Creek Road which starts just outside Meadows on the road to Ashbourne. It is a unique viewing point as the road also passes through a cutting which exposes the root systems of a large eucalypt. The layby overlooks a steep hillside providing a direct line of sight into the canopies of the surrounding trees. I can hear Rosellas and ravens calling and a quick sweep with the telephoto lens reveals a White-cheeked Rosella perched on a branch. While I concentrate on the bird a Little Raven lands by the roadside to scavenge on the carcass of a road-kill possum.

Cutting with exposed roots

Little Raven

I continue along the road for a further 400 meters to another layby which has quite a different outlook. A small section of bush is fenced off and surrounded by grazing land. High in the sky, I notice the circling motion of a large raptor. Once again, the amazing 83x magnification of my Nikon P900 comes to the fore and I recognise the bird as a Wedge-tailed Eagle, Australia’s largest bird of prey.

Wedge-tailed Eagle

My next deviation from the main road is a right hand turn into Ushers Road, a dirt track 3.7 Kms further on from the last layby. The road follows a creek surrounded by open farmland. There are Fairy Wrens and sparrows flitting across it. I catch a glimpse of a hare racing across the paddocks and some Galahs are feeding in the distance. As my main objective is Bull Creek Road’s wildlife I travel just a short distance before returning to the main road.

Creek bed and open pasture

Superb Fairy Wren

Around 7 kms from Ushers Road, is the little hamlet of Ashbourne which features a lovely old church and the iconic Greenman Inn. The building dates from 1865 when it was a general store and post office. Today, the Greenman is a contemporary establishment with country charm and a pub style menu sourced from local produce. It is both family and pet friendly. However, plan your drive carefully as the Greenman is closed on a Mondays and Tuesdays.

Greenman at Ashbourne

Little Corellas

Ashbourne is characterised by some massive eucalypts and pine trees sitting alongside the inn and church. As I wander around the area I can hear the raucous calls of Little Corellas and Galahs and it doesn’t take too long to find and photograph both species of parrot.

Pair of Common Brown butterflies

Bridge over Finniss River

Two kilometres beyond Ashbourne, the Finniss River is crossed by an historic Bridge which was constructed in 1865. There is a little water in the river and I climb down the bank careful not to lacerate myself on blackberry bushes. A White-faced Heron takes flight and several Little Ravens retreat high into high the canopy of the River Gums growing alongside the Finniss. As I make my way back up to the car I notice several brownish butterflies and with a little patience and some luck I manage to photograph a pair.

Turn around destination at Cox Scrub

The final destination for this part of my drive lies another 3.5 kilometres past the bridge. Cox Scrub Conservation Park is an area I have written about previously (see link below). There is a car parking area surrounded by trees and I notice a variety of tiny birds flitting around. I use the telephoto to track them and recognise Striated Pardalotes, Silvereyes and Weebills but they are too small and fast to capture with a camera. Perhaps another day when I have more time.

Grey Fantail

Through the scrub I can see a small clearing with some fallen tree trunks nearby. I sit for a while and watch the birds and eventually a Grey Fantail comes close enough to photograph. A nice way to end this part of my Bull Creek Drive and the car park is as safe place to swing round and head back to the city.          

Cheers

Baz

Additional notes

Cox Scrub CP post

This is an easy drive which is quite suitable for families and seniors with amenities at Ashbourne and Meadows.

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

Cox Scrub Conservation Park’s Wildlife…..Part 2 From Ridge and Bull Creek Roads

7 Feb

 

Track near Ridge Road entrance to Cox Scrub

Dear Reader:

After my initial foray into Cox Scrub from Coles crossing, today, I am entering the park from Ridge and Bull Creek roads. The Ridge Road entrance leads me to a long straight track which separates nearby farmland from the park. The scrub here is thick and quite difficult to penetrate. I can hear the chirping of wrens and other small birds but they are hard to spot and constantly moving.

 

Classic Cox Scrub vegetation

I employ a sit and wait strategy. The trick is to find a comfortable place with a good view of the surrounding area and not too many bushes and trees in line of sight. A tough ask as the sun must be in the right direction; silhouettes and side lit animals do not make great pictures.

 

Heliotrope Moth on melaleuca blossom

Having chosen a spot alongside a flowering Melaleuca tree I make sure my Nikon P900 is on a moderate telephoto setting. I might only get a split   second to make a shot with no time to zoom in closer. I am trying for bird images however I also stay tuned to the close undergrowth and bushes listening for a tell-tale rustle of leaves or the hum of an insect. For the first ten minutes the only animals I encounter are invertebrates; a moth on the Melaleuca flowers and a dragonfly resting on the sandy soil. Eventually a scubwren lands in a nearby tree and a pair of Crested pigeons start foraging on in the understory. Sighting that make my wait worthwhile.

 

Scrubwren species

There are clouds moving in from the south west and I decide to drive to my next destination before I lose the light or it begins to rain. Several walking trails start at the Bull Creek entrance. The tracks are wide and easy to walk but the scrub is still quite dense with less large trees than the last track. A kilometre along the trail I find a clearing where there seems to be quite a lot of bird activity. It’s time for stop, sit and wait, again.

 

Golden Whistler

This time I am rewarded within a few minutes. A beautiful Golden Whistler perches in stubby eucalypt about twenty metres away. Its characteristic call (loud sharp whistles ending in a whip-crack note) echoes through the bush. The bird is quite active and I set the camera to shutter priority firing at 1/2000 th of a second. The clearing seems to attract a number of different bird species and I watch a pair of Grey Fantails hawking for insects before returning to a perch on a fallen branch. There are also kangaroo droppings and several termite nests have been ravaged by Echidnas.

 

Grey Fantail

Though I would like to stay for a few more minutes, the first drops of rain start to spatter on my jacket. I tuck my camera into its waterproof case and head back to the car. It is time for lunch, and the Mount Compass Bakery beckons. A chicken and vegetable pie with a custard tart to follow. A fitting end to my morning’s work.

Cheers

Baz

Additional notes

This is an easy walk/drive which is quite suitable for families and seniors.

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

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

Pondalowie’s Beachside Birdlife

6 Feb

Pondalowie’s Beachside Birdlife

 Dear Reader:

A lone Pacific gull stands on the beach amongst strands of washed up seaweed. It stares at the ocean for a while watching another gull wheeling and soaring above the waves then nonchalantly wanders along the tidal fringe foraging for invertebrates or whatever the sea has deposited.

 

Pacific gull

 

The long white sands of Pondalowie Bay are home to many species of birds and a fertile food source for many others. A leisurely four hour drive from Adelaide to this picturesque Bay on the western extremity of the Innes National Park is a favourite haunt of naturalists, fishers, divers and holiday makers. In fact; any traveller who enjoy that hint of wildness in their getaways will find this a wonderful destination.

 

Classic peninsula coastal landscape

 

Further along the beach several species of tiny waders including dotterels, plovers and sand pipers scurry along the retreating waterline searching for tiny invertebrates such as worms, crustaceans and molluscs. Their little legs seem to rotate as they forage giving them the appearance of wind up clockwork toys.

 

Double banded plover-non breeding plumage

 

Swallows normally live further inland amongst the scrub and trees. However, the proliferation of insects infesting the beds of weed that are strewn along the high tide line has attracted quite a large number of these colourful little aerial hunters. Some are perched on driftwood as they rest between their forays above the weed while others perch in bushes close to the beach.

Swallow

 

In all honesty, my favourite beach dwellers are the oystercatchers. There are two species on the beach pied and sooty and it is a pair of sooties that I spend a few minutes focussing on. They use their long chisel shaped beaks to probe the sand or scrape molluscs off rocks and prise them apart. The bird closest to me has snagged a turban shell and is proceeding to split it open and consume the unfortunate critter within.

 

Sooty oystercatcher

 

From Pondalowie it is a good half hour drive back to Marion Bay where we are staying in a cliff-side holiday home and dinner at the local pub that serves the best pizzas and seafood I have eaten in a long time.    

 

Cheers

Baz

 

Additional notes

This is an easy drive which is quite suitable for families and seniors with public toilets, barbecues, parking and other facilities at Marion Bay and Pondalowie. The trails leading from the main park road down to beaches and into the scrub are more arduous.

 

 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. The link does not work well on mobile phones and is best followed through a computer or tablet.

https://silkstone627.wixsite.com/mysite

Waitpinga…. Scrub and Surf

26 Jul

Waitpinga…. Scrub and Surf 

Dear Reader:

I am in the little parking area at the Newland Head Conservation Park, just a twenty minute drive from Victor Harbor. On the grassy verge near a stand of pink gums, a small group of red-browed finches are feeding on seeds. It is a wonderful way to start my late afternoon exploration of this diverse coastal park.

2 Red-browed finches like to live in thick ndergrowth

Red-browed finches like to live in thick undergrowth

 

 

A series of trails branch out from this sheltered camp ground. They wind through the scrub providing access to the beach and rock climbing areas or simply wind through the scrub that lies behind a series of coastal dunes.

3 coastal scrub dominated by wattles and casuarina trees

Coastal scrub dominated by wattles and casurina trees

 

I choose a trail that runs parallel to the dunes. It is dominated by coastal acacia bushes where a variety of small birds flit amongst the foliage chattering and calling to each other. I fire off a few shots in the low light conditions to try and identify the species. One bird is definitely a grey fantail the other is bouncing on the thin branches as it feeds on seed pods. Perhaps it is a robin or thornbill species; hard to tell but that is the challenge of wildlife photography in these conditions.

 

 

What is it a thornbill or a robin

What is it a thornbill or a robin?

Grey fantails

Grey fantails are often found in coastal scrub

 

From the campground the road descends towards the beach. To the right a seasonal creek spreads into a shallow lake behind a set of dunes that are continually eroded by wind and water. I pull the car into a siding and walk along the edge of the lake. The wildlife here is quite prolific. A pair of kangaroos bound out of the scrub in front of me and there are black swans, coots and several duck species on the water. In one small bush, growing amongst the long grass, silvereyes are feeding on berries.

The creek spreads to a small lake just behind some low coastal dunes

The creek spreads to a small lake just behind some low coastal dunes

Silvereyes feed on insects, fruit and nectar

Silvereyes feed on insects, fruit and nectar

 

As I approach the beach I can hear the roar of the surf over the car’s motor. This is a classic southern beach with white water breaks that stretch several hundred metres out to sea. In the afternoon light the sand is pale gold contrasting the darker figures of anglers casting for salmon from the beach. There are silver gulls crowding around their bait buckets and several of their larger cousins, Pacific gulls, are patrolling the edge of the surf.

Fishing the surf gutters at Waitpinga Beach

Fishing the surf gutters at Waitpinga Beach

Pacific gulls forage along the edge of the ocean eating a wide variety of foods from fish to moluscs and even other birds

Pacific gulls forage along the edge of the ocean eating a wide variety of foods from fish to molluscs and even other birds

 

 

It has been a rewarding afternoon at ‘Waits’ and I have enough time to drive back to Victor Harbor and enjoy an afternoon meal sitting on the decking of the Whalers restaurant enjoying a wonderful view of Encounter Bay. And, at this time of year, even the chance of a whale sighting.

bluff vh

Dinner overlooking the bluff

 

I hope you take the time to enjoy this lovely bit of our coastline sometime in the near future.

 

Cheers Baz

Ingalalla Falls

13 Dec

Dear Reader;

Ingalalla falls does not actually cascade down the dark boulders to the pools below. This is South Australia where water is scarce and in the summer months rain is a rare blessing. But it is a waterfall and as such attracts a varied collection of wildlife as well as providing a few interesting walks and the perfect setting to enjoy a picnic in the bush.

Yankalilla's main street with bakery and surrounding hills visible

Yankalilla’s main street with bakery and surrounding hills visible (click on all images to enlarge)

 

 

The falls are about 10 kilometres off the main south road near the coastal hamlets of Normanville and Yankalilla. Both towns have superb little bakeries where one can quickly stock up on a range of ‘goodies’. My choice for this expedition included a gourmet chicken, potato and cheese pie with a generous serve of bee-sting cake (a legacy of our early German settlers) to follow.

Ingalalla falls desceding into the creek

Ingalalla falls descending into the creek

 

 

The dirt road from Normanville passes through a mixture of open bushland and wheat fields with a superb links golf course near the main highway. And just few kilometres down the track I noticed a boulder with a metal plaque that celebrated the life of a local settler, mariner and pastoralist William Field, adding an unexpected historical perspective to the day.

A little bit of history

A little bit of history

 

Where the native scrub started to merge with pine plantations, a small signposted track leads to a sheltered camping area complete with a simple shelter and scattering of wooden benches and tables. From there, a walking trail follows the little creek to the falls. On the right side of the path a steep hillside covered with bracken, native shrubs and tall stringy barked eucalypts rises abruptly from the creek.

Bushland trail characterised by  eucalypts, bracken and low bushes (2)

Walk to the falls showing eucalypts, bracken and low bushes

 

 

The rustle of leaves and chirping calls indicated that the thick cover was home to many small bird species but the dense foliage made identifying them somewhat difficult. Eventually, I adopted the sit still and wait strategy which yielded results as a yellow faced honeyeater and grey fantail soon came within camera range.

Grey fantail perching near the creek after eating an insect

Grey fantail perching near the creek after eating an insect

 

Yellow faced honeyeater in thicket

Yellow faced honeyeater in thicket

 

 

Although it was a mild day for summer, a few insects were active around the creek. Both dragon and damsel flies hovered amongst the reeds and several species of butterflies alternately fed on small flowering shrubs and rested amongst the leaf litter.

Wattle trunk scarred by boring beetles

Wattle trunk scarred by boring beetles

 

Meadow argus butterfly camouflaged in leaf litter

Meadow argus butterfly camouflaged in leaf litter

 

 

The rest of my walk was equally rewarding with a pair of yellow tailed black cockatoos making a sudden appearance in one of the nearby pine trees and a couple of wester grey kangaroos bounding across the track as we drove back to the road with the late afternoon light enhancing the golden wheat fields.

Wheat fields on the edge of the track to Ingalalla

Wheat fields on the edge of the track to Ingalalla

 

 

I hope you enjoyed this recollection

Drop me a line with any suggestions, criticisms or compliments

All are welcome

 

Baz

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