Tag Archives: grey kangaroo

Whyalla’s Coastal Fringe

25 Jun

Whyalla’s Coastal Fringe

Dear Reader:

The grey kangaroo is bounding along the small levy that cuts across a shallow clay pan near the edge of a tidal flat. It stops monetarily and twitches its mobile ears, looks around, then continues on its way into the scrub alongside the raised earthen mound. I get a few seconds to make a shot and the wary marsupial is gone.

Grey kangaroo

 I am exploring the coastal fringe of Whyalla South Australia’s third most populous city. The steel and regional centre is situated near the head of Spencer Gulf on the Eyre Peninsula about 450 kms from Adelaide. The area is a mixture of mangrove, tidal flats, sandy beach and some small industrial areas that enclose substantial freshwater pools. Several roads lead down towards the coast from the Lincoln Highway and some of the terrain requires 4WD.

Garden centipede

Egyptian beetle 

I take the vehicle across one of the mud flats and have to fight to keep from getting bogged. Slipping the SUV into low range and slowly sliding across the surface I wrestle with the steering until the wheels grip sand on the edge of the levy. Relieved, I get out and survey the quagmire of clay-like debris stuck to the wheel arches. But my close call has led me to a cosy little depression amongst the scrub and I decide to move a few fallen branches and search for invertebrates. After a few minutes I unearth a rather large garden centipede and a few Egyptian or ‘cellar beetles’ as well as some different ant species. After a little macro photography I carefully replace their homes.

Australian pelicans 

Another dirt road takes me past the rifle club and some large freshwater ponds that have attracted a small group of pelicans. The birds appear to be simply congregating and socialising between short forays into the water to feed. Along the edge of the water there are several different species of small waders including dotterels and plovers but they are wary and take flight when I approach.

Crested pigeons 

The scrub alongside the mangrove patches is also home to a variety of birds including singing honeyeaters and fantails. One scrubby eucalypt that has managed to endure decades of salty onshore winds provides shelter for a trio of crested pigeons a species that I often see found foraging in the coastal bush.

View from Hummock Hill 

I head back onto the highway drive back into the city and up to a local lookout. Hummock Hill is a fitting place to end my exploration of Whyalla’s coastal fringe. The site of the first settlement in 1901 it provides panoramic views of the city, coast and surrounding bushland. Hummock Hill also served as a gun emplacement during the Second World War and has lately been developed as an historic site; lovely place to simply take in the rugged beauty that this area has to offer.

Cheers

Baz 

 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.

https://wildlifemomentssa.blogspot.com

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Spring Gully…Wildlife and Wineries

20 Jul

Spring Gully…Wildlife and Wineries

Dear Reader;

There are two white winged choughs in the eucalyptus tree about a hundred metres away. The birds are quite wary, flying deep into the woodland every time I approach. Choughs are often mistaken for crows but closer examination reveals a curved beak and rusty coloured eyes in these juveniles, red in adults, as well as white patches on the wings. The birds seem to be quite communal and there are at least a dozen scattered amongst the trees.

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White winged choughs

 

I am driving through the Spring Gully Conservation Park about five kilometres from the little hamlet of Sevenhills in the Clare Valley. Where the road to the park leaves the main highway we have ‘dined’ at a local bakery on coffee and one of the best vanilla slices ever to clog an artery. This crossroad also leads to the renowned Skillagolee restaurant and winery where we have booked an afternoon tea.

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Red stringy barks

 

 Leaving the choughs to their socialising I park a little further along the road by a fire track then walk along a bush trail. The view of the plains beyond; with rare red stringy barks, as well as yacca or grass trees and bush lilies in the foreground, is breathtaking. There are numerous trails leading off the main track, one winds down to a creek and waterfall. However, the afternoon is drawing to close and we are simply doing a quick drive through in preparation for some bush walking later.

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Argus species butterfly

 

 

Afternoon tea is superb, scones and a cheese platter, followed by a pleasant time tasting some of the excellent Clare Valley wines. Now the sun is low in the sky and it is time to drive down to the Jesuit winery at Sevenhills where altar wine is produced amongst other table vintages.

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Sevenills monastery

 

As we drive along the entrance road to the monastery and vineyard we are lucky enough to catch sight of a group of grey kangaroos feeding along the fence line by the vines. I have often seen roos here on previous trips and it is an image I was hoping to capture.

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Grey kangaroos at dusk in vineyard

 

 With the evening sun backlighting the trees that surround a sacred grotto, kangaroos in a vineyard and a flight of pink and grey cockatoos settling in the trees to roost it is hard to imagine a more idyllic way to start our weekend trip through the Clare Valley.

Cheers

Baz

Montacute’s Cherry Trail

10 Feb

Montacute’s Cherry Trail 

Dear Reader:

The two roos are huge. It is rare to see grey kangaroos this large quite so close to the suburbs. They are browsing by the side of a gravel track just off the main road. The male seems quite protective of the female looking intently at me while she continues to feed. But in truth both seem unfazed by my presence.

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Grey kangaroos

 

I am parked just near St Andrews Uniting Church where the tortuous curves of Corkscrew Road heads back down to the Torrens Gorge. Earlier I had driven up Montacute Road past the hills face suburbs of Newton and Athelstone. The road traversed The Black Hill Conservation Park as it followed the winding path of Fifth Creek to the little community of Montacute famous for its cherry orchards.

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St Andrew’s Church

 

Along the way I had stopped at several parking bays to access the park. Much to my surprise nearly every stop yielded a koala sighting. They were hanging in trees, nibbling leaves and one was even scuttling clumsily across the ground to a new arboreal refuge.

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Relaxed koala

 

After walking around the scrub near the church photographing butterflies and other insects I call in at Montacute Valley Orchards. I park near the farm shed and purchase a few kilos of cherries and some superb home-made ice cream. But my wildlife instincts are drawn to the birds that are frequenting the nearby fruit trees. There are lorikeets, miner birds and wattle birds feeding on cherries and apricots in the foliage as well as cockatoos and rosellas rummaging amongst the fallen fruit below the trees.

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Meadow argus butterfly

 

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Musk lorikeet in cherry tree

 

With a belly full of ice cream, a bag full of cherries and an SD card full of images I call it a day and drive back to the city via corkscrew Road and the Torrens Gorge.

5 One of the lovely hills properies that nestle in the valley

One of the lovely hills properties that nestle in the valley

 

Cheers

Baz

Marion Bay….the edge of Innes

29 Sep

Marion Bay….the edge of Innes

A small group of grey kangaroos is gathered on the edge of the scrub. The large male seems a little nervous. His ears twitch independently as he hops a few metres closer to where I am balancing the camera on an old jarrah fence post. Keeping the females and a half grown joey behind him, the buck stands up to his full height, giving me a clear warning not to come any nearer to his family.

1 Western grey kangaroos resting on the edge of the scrub

Western grey kangaroos resting on the edge of the scrub

I am walking along the fence-line that separates the township of Marion Bay from the Innes National park. We have hired a little holiday home that sits on the very edge of the township with intimate views of the surrounding grassland and scrub. Each morning, while I am eating breakfast on the verandah, I can see a few odd rabbits and a veritable parade of birdlife amongst the shrubs and trees that make up the garden. My favourites are the diminutive silvereyes that perch in the eucalypts and twitter menacingly at the larger birds that dare to invade their territory.

2 The view from the back verandah

The view from the back verandah

2 Silvereye singing in eucalyptus tree

Silvereye singing in eucalyptus tree

 The kangaroos are close to the lower end of the fence-line which runs from the main road up to the coastal cliffs that dominate this section of Marion Bay. As I move towards the coast I nearly step on an ant nest; not just any colony of ants but bulldog ants. These inch long beasties pack quite a bite and are best avoided. Luckily they do not swarm in great numbers like their smaller brethren. Still, photography is undertaken at a respectable distance.

3 Bulldog or inch ant

Bulldog or inch ant

As I approach the top of the cliffs the vegetation changes dramatically. Low scrubby bushes and thick ground covers with patches of tussock like grasses provide an ideal habitat for a range of small birds I can hear them in the thick cover but only catch fleeting glimpses. Then suddenly my luck changes and a glorious little wren hops out and sits on the very fence-line I have been following. In Adelaide I have often photographed superb blue fairy wrens and I am more than thrilled to see them here in this coastal environment. It is only later when I look at the image more carefully that I realise this little wren is actually a variegated fairy wren; a species I have never photographed.

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Variegated fairy wren

 

 Where the fence meets the edge of the limestone cliffs there is a wooden viewing bay that provides an ideal bird watching platform. In the few minutes that I stand and survey the beach below several species of water birds fly past; including a white faced heron, silver gulls and a pacific gull. Looking back across the scrubby verge towards the rather expensive houses that front the esplanade I start planning my next trip to Marion Bay; perhaps a sea view this time.

5 silver gull in flight

Silver gull in flight

6 Coastal viewing platform with views of cliff and beach

Coastal viewing platform overlooking the beach

 An afternoon stroll along the fence-line completed my thoughts turn to dinner. The award winning Marion Bay Tavern is just the place to head as the sun is setting on my rather fruitful day on the edge of Innes. Made from materials that reflect the area, including corrugated iron, reclaimed jetty pylons and jarrah timbers, the restaurant boasts an eclectic menu specialising in fresh local seafoods. But my choice this evening is a pizza cooked in a wood oven fashioned from a classic old rainwater tank.

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Wood oven South Aussie style

 

Take a drive down to this wonderful area sometime

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.

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.

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Fully grown male, grey kangaroo

 

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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.

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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.

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Grey currawong in pink gum

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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.

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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!!!

Cheers

Baz

Wilpena…. Three Kangaroos and an Emu

26 Jun

Dear Reader:

The hillside behind the cabin is quite steep and the trail leading to its summit zig-zags between rocky outcrops and stands of native pine. Every so often there are depressions and small caves where the rust coloured soil is littered with roo droppings. From the first ridge, the view back across ‘the pound’ is spectacular with the curved formation of peaks that shape this unique environment clearly evident against the deep blue of an outback sky.

 

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A lone euro with the ranges in the background

Euro nremains below a particularly steep rockface

Euro remains below a particularly steep rockface

 

A little further up the scree slope the sound of scattering rocks provides a tell-tale hint of movement. I freeze, lift the camera and wait; nothing but the thumping sound of a large animal bounding further up the hillside. Only a kangaroo makes that sound and only a hill kangaroo, sometimes called a wallaroo or euro, would be living in this steep terrain.

Classic euro habitat

Classic euro habitat

 

 

There are three species of kangaroos, as well as their smaller wallaby relatives, living in the Flinders Ranges near Wilpena Pound ; a crater shaped geological formation in South Australia’s northern outback region about five hour’s drive from Adelaide. Each species tends to favour slightly different habitats in this arid, semi desert environment though there is inevitably some overlap in their territories.

This euro has a rustier tinge to its fur

This euro has a rustier tinge to its fur

 

Euros are generally solitary and they prefer rocky outcrops. Their fur is thicker than the other two species and can have a slightl reddish tinge. They are quite stocky, robust kangaroos measuring up to 195 cms from head to tip of the tail with both males and females similar in appearance. Red kangaroos prefer the open plains and males can measure 2.4 metres and always have a rusty coat and distinct facial markings. Female red kangaroos have grey fur with a hint of blue shading and are considerably smaller. The third species, the western grey kangaroo, is less common in the ranges; they look more like a lighter built euro with smoother fur. Western greys are gregarious and prefer woodlands. They are the most common species in the southern part of the state.

Western grey kangaroos

Western grey kangaroos

 

From the top of the hillside I work my way back down a steep gully to the lower slopes where a couple of euros are feeding on the grass and small shrubs growing close to the roadside. They let me approach to within fifty metres before twitching their ears nervously and bounding off into a stand of native pines at the base of a steep hillside.

A young euro moments before bounding up into the escarpment after its mother

A young euro moments before bounding up into the escarpment after its mother

Female adult euro bounding up into escarpment

Female adult euro bounding up into escarpment

 

The roadside provides a perfect view of both the rugged escarpments that dominate the terrain and the open grassland that characterizes the entrance to the pound. In the distance I can see the outline of several red kangaroos grazing on the grass near an old restored woolshed that serves as a gallery and function centre. They appear to be quite relaxed and as I approach I notice that it is actually a pair of animals; a large male standing close to a resting female.

Red kangaroo male and female

Red kangaroo male and female

Red kangaroo male and female

Art display in the old woolshed

 

I have been quite lucky on my walk, having seen two of the three local kangaroo species and as if to point out that the landscape is inhabited by more than just marsupials a couple of emus run across the walking trail as I am turning for home.

A pair of emus running alongside a walking trail at Wilpena

A pair of emus running alongside a walking trail at Wilpena

 

Satisfied with my morning’s work I head back to the chalets for a shower and lunch at one of the two dining areas. Chalets, dining areas, a well equipped general store and even a small swimming pool for the summer heat; not really roughing it but on the other hand there is abundant wildlife just a stone’s throw away. SA at its very best.

Accommodation Wilpena

Accommodation Wilpena

 

Cheers

Baz

 

Wild Dog Walk

2 Jan

Wild Dog Walk

Dear Reader:

The drive from Port Augusta to Whyalla is almost gun barrel straight for much of the seventy kilometre journey. Low scrub and salt bush plains dominate the landscape. Small birds occasionally flit across the road and for the keen observer; kangaroos and emus can be spotted foraging in the bush. But first impressions can be misleading and more careful look at this unique environment reveals a plant ecosystem quite different from the eucalyptus dominated vegetation closer to Adelaide.

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Entrance to the park (click to enlarge all images on this post)

 

 

The ground is hard pack red earth and salt bush, acacia and eremophilas form the lower layers beneath canopy of western mayall trees with an occasional eucalypt thrown in for good measure. The affect is a subtle interplay of greens and greys that typifies this harsh but beautiful countryside.

Wild Dog Walk

Myall and eucalypt canopy with shrubs and saltbush understory

 

 

Around 50 kms from Port Augusta and just 10 kms from the outskirts of the steel town of Whyalla, the park is announced by a signpost and bush track that leads off to the right. The trail is part of the Whyalla conservation park and the road leads to a rocky outcrop known as Wild Dog Rocks. A local Aboriginal story relates how a medicine man flung dingos, who had killed a child, off the north eastern edge of the rocks.

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Wild Dog Rocks rising from the bush

 

 

This story and information about the plants in the area is presented as a series of signs along a short trail that circumnavigates the outcrop. The mayall trees, lichens, various shrubs and grasses are all represented and provide the walker with a better understanding of this rugged ecosystem.

Mayall tree

Mayall tree surrounded by salt bush with acacia to the left

 

 

Depending on the season a wide variety of wildlife frequents this arid zone. Parrots, honeyeaters, magpies and delicate little finches are just a few of the birds that live in the dense shrubs and grasses. And if one walks carefully, stops frequently to look and listens for a tell tale rustle there are reptiles to be found, ranging from tiny skinks, large monitors and even the occasional brown snake.

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Australian magpie proclaiming territory

 

 

 

Despite the complexity and diversity of this ecosystem it remains a harsh and unforgiving environment. There is little food and plants bloom infrequently due to the low rainfall. A visitor needs to be patient to locate the wildlife and as always the early morning and late afternoon are when the animals are more active and far more easily encountered.

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Grey kangaroo in saltbush

 

 

 

 

I set aside three hours to explore this park and stopped several times on the way to the rocky outcrop where I walked a couple of hundred metres into the bush and sat quietly for a few minutes. One the first occasion I flushed out a grey kangaroo that paused for a split second to look at me before bounding through the salt bush into the scrub. The second time I watched some butcher birds and a magpie squabbling loudly over territory.

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Spiny cheeked honeyeater feeding in an eremophila

 

 

At Wild Dog Rocks I spent quite a long time watching small birds flitting between some flowering shrubs. Photographing them was challenging to say the least. I noticed that several birds seemed to return frequently to one particular bush allowing me to set up and capture a few long range images. The birds turned out to be spiny cheeked honeyeaters a species I had not seen before.

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Sand goanna or Gould’s monitor foraging through understory

 

 

With evening approaching I made one last foray into the scrub at the foot of the rocks and sat amongst a stand of mayall trees where there was a clear view of a small clearing. After a few minutes I heard the unmistakable rustle of a larger animal moving across the leaf litter. Suddenly a sand goanna appeared, the metre long monitor lizard was moving slowly with its long forked tongue frequently flicking out as it searched for prey. As the goanna approached dozens of locusts, that had been hidden amongst the undergrowth, took flight before they were added to the lizards eclectic menu.

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Almost locust for lunch

 

 

From the park to the city of Whyalla is a short drive. Here you can wash off the red dust and enjoy the pleasantries of hotels, regional shopping, restaurants, coastal activities and a fine golf course.

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The shapes, colours and textures of the arid zone are summed up in this imge

 

 

 

Have a great start to the New Year and I hope you have the chance to explore this interesting region sometime soon.

 

Cheers

Baz

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