Tag Archives: grey kangaroo

Aldinga Scrub

21 Dec

The tawny frogmouth is absolutely motionless. At first glance, I can’t see the bird even though my guide has pointed out its position. Eventually I locate it amongst the foliage exploiting its extraordinary camouflage and the tactic of remaining statue-still to remain ‘hidden in plain sight’. I am using a long lens which allows me to zoom in close enough to capture the delicate whisker-like structures around its beak; perfect for sensing insects at night. “Sometimes there are two together,” she informs me. “And we’ve had a nest with young.” I make a mental note to ask her to give me a call when that happens; photographing a frogmouth and its chicks would be something special.

A tawny frogmouth exhibits its amazing camouflage

A tawny frogmouth exhibits its amazing camouflage (Click to enlarge all images on page)

I am on the edge of the Aldinga scrub; a patch of remnant bushland that hints of what this coastal plain would have looked like before the early settlers arrived with their ploughs and sheep. Aldinga and its coastal neighbour Silver Sands are just an hour’s drive from the centre of Adelaide and a favourite haunt of mine for an entirely different reason. No more than a kilometre away is one of my favourite snorkelling destinations. A reef to dive on, long white beaches for swimming and surfing and a patch of scrub to explore; make this an ideal destination for a day trip from the city.

A half full water hole attracts a wide variety of animals

A half full water hole attracts a wide variety of animals

I continue to walk along the road that borders the scrub. The houses on the urban side of the track blend in well with the bushland ambience. Obviously the residents have chosen this location because of its natural setting and the gardens are filled with a variety of native plants that attract insects and birds. In a huge gum that towers over the track I can hear the raucous screech of a wattle bird high in the canopy. The largest of all the honeyeaters, wattle birds often feed on leaf bugs and nectar from eucalyptus flowers. This one is hopping between the branches calling loudly while foraging amongst the leaves.

A wattle bird wipes its curved beak clean on a branch.

A wattle bird wipes its curved beak clean on a branch

A post and wire fence separates the road from the scrub and a host of tiny birds are twittering and flitting between the trees just inside the reserve. I find a likely spot and sit quietly, balancing the camera and lens carefully on my knees. Eventually, one of the tiny birds perches on a bare branch a dozen metres away. I track the fluffy bundle of feathers and take a quick series of shots as it hops and turns before taking flight. Perhaps one frame will freeze its incessant motion and allow me to identify the species. On reviewing the image my best guess is a species of thornbill.

Thornbil species

Thornbill species

I am more than pleased with my stroll along the edge of the scrub. The frogmouth, wattle birds and tiny finch-like birds were more than I expected. But as I turn to walk back to the car I hear the familiar thump of a kangaroo’s powerful back legs hitting the hard packed earth of the track. An adult grey kangaroo and its joey bound across the road and pause by the fence-line. I watch them as they survey the obstacle for a few seconds then the joey squeezes between the strands of wire while the adult clears it with a single bound. They stop and look around before disappearing into the thick scrub.

A joey balances on its tail and lifts its back legs before squeezing through the fence

A joey balances on its tail and lifts its back legs before squeezing through the fence

The afternoon light is fading and I have one last stop to make before driving home and it has little to do with wildlife. Opposite the Aldinga pub there is a charming café called the Old Vine. It has a colonial cottage feel about it and the meals are interesting, tasty and sourced from local produce but the main draw card is a citrus tart that is as good as any I have eaten anywhere in the world…and I have sampled quite a few.

 

Come visit

Merry Xmas

Baz

Second Valley ….drive and dive

17 Aug

Dear Reader:

This week’s post is courtesy of a chilly winter dive and a pleasant day’s drive to one of my favourite childhood haunts, Second Valley.

D Second Valley bay on a winter's day

Second Valley bay and beach on a calm winter’s day

 

In 1836 Colonel Light, the founder of Adelaide, was searching for a good location for South Australia’s new capital city. He sailed his ship, the Rapid, into a sheltered bay with a fresh water stream that flowed in from a fertile valley. Light named the bay after the vessel. The second little cove that he discovered was just a few miles north towards the present location of Adelaide and was simply known as Second Valley.

E farmer and dog taking dairy herd across the road near Rapid Bay

Farmer and cattle dog taking dairy herd across the road near Rapid Bay

Second Valley is a one and a half hour drive from the city centre along the Fleurieu  Peninsula’s south coast road. The dairy farms that lie amongst the rolling hills, large expanses of open woodland, and vineyards make it a recreational drive worth undertaking for its own sake. But for the wildlife enthusiast both drive and destination are even more enthralling. The farms and bushland support a healthy population of western grey kangaroos that are often visible from the road. Rosellas, various cockatoos, lorikeets and a host of other bird species are also common throughout the year.

BB Western grey kangaroos near the roadside near Second Valley

Western grey kangaroos by the roadside near Second Valley

However Second Valley’s real charm lies beneath its pristine waters. The sheltered little bay is enclosed by limestone hills and coastal cliffs . It boasts an exquisite little beach and miniature rocky headland which is bisected by an old wooden jetty. Small boats can be launched from the beach but the marine environment is just as easily accessed from the beach, jetty and rocks for shore based divers. It is, in my experience, one of the best scuba and snorkelling locations that I have encountered anywhere in the world. A place where a novice snorkeler can swim amongst shallow rocky reefs in water they can stand up in or a more adventurous diver can swim a short distance and be next to a cliff face that drops away into 10 metres of water.

A squid at nightshowing irridescence

Squid viewed on night dive

Below the water there is a diverse range of habitats to explore ranging from limestone caves and ledges, to rocky reefs, seagrass meadows and open expanses of white rippled sand. There is always a wide selection of marine life to enjoy. Over the years I have encountered everything from huge eagle rays to schools of iridescent squid on a night dive and once I came across an elephant shark lazily gliding across the segrass as it came into the shallow bay to breed.

B large cuttlefish amongst brown algae

Large cuttlefish amongst brown algae

Although the balmy days of summer are the ideal weather for a dip in the ocean the winter months often produce long fine breaks when the sea is calm and visibility excellent. On this particular occasion I was lucky enough to encounter a couple of large cuttlefish under a ledge and a school of silver drummer milled around me on the edge of the rocky outcrop. On any typical dive, either snorkelling or with scuba, I would expect to sight at least 30 different species of fish and a multitude of invertebrates. This dive was no exception.

BB Silver drummer schooling  at the end of the rocky peninsular

Silver drummer schooling at the end of the rocky peninsula

As always I hope you enjoyed the pictures and anecdotes and that they encourage you to come and enjoy our unique scenery and wildlife.

Cheers

Baz

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