Tag Archives: ibis

Weeroona’s Wildlife

10 Aug

Dear Reader:

The roadside view makes the pair of ibis look like some multi headed ying-yang version of a bird as one looks up while the other dips its beak into a puddle. They are part of a larger group that has been feeding in the samphire wetlands that border the road to the island.

 

Pair of ibis

 

Strictly speaking Weeroona island is more like a raised peninsula; cut off from the mainland by swampy ground that only floods in severe weather conditions coupled with high tides. Situated between Port Pirie and Port Germein (about two hours drive from Adelaide) the island is a weekend destination for many locals. There are a wide variety of dwellings from beachside shacks to luxury homes scattered around the island. Surrounded by stands of mangrove and with stretches of beach mudflat and cliffs the periphery of this tiny island is a Mecca for coastal wildlife.

 

Island life

 

As I reach the island I notice a small park with children’s play equipment, shelter and barbecues. Nearby there is a boat ramp and a walking trail that skirts the mangroves. A school of mullet are feeding in the shallows and I can hear the calls of mangrove warblers and herons in the tangles of trunks and leaves that crowd the water’s edge. The view from the park back across the mainland to the lower Flinders is spectacular with low clouds enveloping the crest of the hills.

 

Mangrove channel

 

Driving around the island only takes a few minutes but there are several minor roads and tracks leading down to the sea that are well worth exploring. Along one small trail I have an uninterrupted view of the skeletal remains of an old fishing boat and a mixed accumulation of pied and black cormorants on a small exposed beach.

 

What a wreck

 

It has been a brief but exhilarating drive around the little island and I will make sure to set more time aside on my next foray into the area. But Weroona leaves me with one final avian gift. Just as I am about to drive back to the main highway a pair of masked lapwings decide to walk along the path near the walkway. Today the light is good and I manage to get a nice detailed shot of one of these wary coastal birds purposefully strutting along the gravel track.

 

Masked lapwing

 

 

Cheers

Baz

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Modbury’s Three Bridge Walk

1 Aug

Modbury’s Three Bridge Walk

 Dear Reader:

There are ibises along the banks of the pond and high in a river gum. One pair seems to be concentrating on a particularly dense area in the crown of the tree. I look more closely through the telephoto lens. It is a nest, barely discernible amongst branches. Closer inspection reveals a pair of chicks nestled against one of the parents while the other has left in search.

1

Ibis nest camouflaged in gum tree

 

I am walking along the pathway that runs from Montague Road to McIntyre Road behind the little complex of shops that includes Katmandu, Bunnings and Subway; just a few hundred metres before TTP. It is best to park next to the creek appropriately behind the outdoor shop then walked over a small traffic bridge to Victoria road. After a hundred metres, head left over the footbridge that crosses Dry Creek past a large pond where the ibises gather.

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The pond near Montague Road

 

3a

Walking and cycling track along Dry Creek

 

Leaving the ibises to their domestic duties I follow the creek using a small track along the bank. Alternatively a new concrete path traverses the same route. There are waterfowl along the creek which is flowing quite fast after heavy winter rains. In a slightly calmer stretch where a curve in the creek creates a sheltered pool a pair of black ducks, recognisable only by their upturned tails, are feeding on the bottom.

3a2

Black ducks feeding

4a

Along the secluded detour

 

After a couple of hundred meters I come to the third bridge which crosses the creek and bends back to the car park and lunch. However, alongside the bridge there is another rough dirt track that leads into the scrub emerging at a lovely secluded section of the creek. As I follow this trail I come across a variety of smaller birds including some New Holland honeyeaters that are perched in the reeds and a flock of musk lorikeets squawking high in a huge red gum near the trail junction.

3a3

Third bridge over the creek

3b

New Holland honeyeater in reeds

 

I back track to the bridge, cross it, turn left following the main watercourse and stop to photograph a small waterfall that has developed in the creek. From here the track branches left running alongside a steep banked gully with very little water in it. Back at the car park I can get some lunch, shop for outdoor gear or find some hardware to occupy the remainder of the day.

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Little rapid or waterfall

 

Not a bad way to spend a winter’s morning

Cheers

Baz

A Stroll with a New Camera

1 Nov

Dear Reader:

Like all photographers I enjoy equipment. Every so often I can even justify buying a new camera. With an overseas trip to Italy looming I needed a light compact zoom that would fit easily into my pocket. In truth I had been thinking of getting the same kind of equipment to carry when cycling along the parkland trails that I enjoy each weekend. Too often, I had decided not to take my DSLR or super-zoom because thy were that bit too cumbersome or the weather looked threatening. And on nearly every occasion some exquisite little wildlife moment went un-recorded.

Small lake near McIntyre Rd f3.3 @1  320 sec ISO100, click to enlarge

Small lake near McIntyre Rd; f3.3 @1 320 sec ISO100, click to enlarge all images on this page.

Australan grebe f6.4 @ 1 200th sec ISO  400; click to enlarge

Australian grebe; f6.4 @ 1 200th sec ISO 400

 

A little compact would serve both purposes and popping a plastic bag in my bike pants (not the lycra variety I assure you) would take care of any wet weather problems. My camera of choice was a Panasonic TZ40, a pocket sized camera with a respectable 20x zoom. They were on special with a new model coming out and my old Pana’ FZ40 had always proved a reliable unit capable of producing some extremely sharp images.

Sacred Ibis reflections f5.9 @ 1 320th sec ISO 100

Sacred Ibis reflections; f5.9 @ 1 320th sec ISO 100

Red flowering gum, f5.9 @1 200 th sec ISO  100

Red flowering gum, f5.9 @1 200 th sec ISO 100

 

Armed with my new acquisition, I chose some familiar turf to see what the little camera could do. Tea tree Plaza is a large shopping mall on the north eastern fringe of Adelaide’s suburbs. There are some nice cafes to get an early morning ‘cuppa’ before you set off across the adjacent park to intersect Dry creek by the bridge over Montague Road. From there, a network of paths, trails and tracks wind south along the creek towards the coast or north into the foothills.

Rainbow lorikeets examining tree hollow f6.4 @1 125  th sec ISO 250

Rainbow lorikeets examining tree hollow; f6.4 @1 125 th sec ISO 250

Mudlark collecting nesting material;  f2.9 @ 1 125th sec ISO 400

Mudlark collecting nesting material; f2.9 @ 1 125th sec ISO 400

 

I decided to take the southern bike trail that follows the creek down to McIntyre road then work my way back to the bridge along the bush tracks that hug the other side of the waterway; a nice journey of around 3kms that includes several small lakes, patches of quite dense scrub and some towering old river gums.

Maned duck with chicks;   f5.6 @ 1 80sec ISO 160

Maned duck with chicks; f5.6 @ 1 80sec ISO 160

Black duck taking off;  f6.4  @1 250 th sec ISO 100

Black duck taking off; f6.4 @1 250th sec ISO 100

 

In this post, I will not describe each particular wildlife encounter, instead the pictures and brief captions can tell the story. There was a little post image tidying up through Photoshop but in my humble opinion the little camera did a good job as a backup and will certainly sit in my pocket on many a bike ride or travel adventure in the future.

 

Until our next chat

Cheers

Baz  

Mount Barker’s Wetland Wonders

8 Jun

Dear Reader;

It is a glorious autumn day, perfect for a little bird-watching and a stroll around the water.

 

The tiny plover has been edging around the reed beds for the last ten minutes, finally coming out of the dense cover around the lake to probe the mud for worms and other avian niceties. The colourful little wader seems more confident and continues to feed just forty metres from where I am concealed in the undergrowth; a little too close to bull ant nest for comfort. Eventually it comes close enough for me to fire off a couple of shots before taking off abruptly, spooked by a pair of maned ducks cruising low over the water.

 

P1070914

Black-fronted plover (click to enlarge)

 

I am at the Laratinga wetland on the edge of Mount Barker, the largest town in the Adelaide Hills. The word Laratinga comes from the indigenous name for the Mt Barker Creek and near the entrance of the wetlands there is magical series of portraits that relate episodes within the timeline of the original inhabitants of the area, the Peramangk people. Mount Barker is a busy regional centre with plenty of places to buy fresh local ingredients for making up a picnic lunch to enjoy while you wander around the wetlands observing the diverse collection of plants and animals that live there.

P1070892

Portraits at the wetlands (click to enlarge)

 

 

 

Leaving my hiding place on the edge of the lake, I follow one of the many trails that zigzag through the reserve. Near the edge of another patch of reeds a small flock of ibis are feeding in the shallows. Their distinctive curved beaks and greater size means they might be feeding in the same habitat as the little plover but their prey will be distinctly different. Such a variety of beaks, feet and size is one of the reasons that so many different species of birds can feed together in the same area without destroying the food supply. But the wetland is not reserved for wildlife enthusiasts and a jogger runs a little too close to the flock causing the them take to the air. Despite this being a fairly recent wetland, constructed by the council to filter water naturally, wildlife and people live quite harmoniously and the birds soon return to their chosen spot and resume dining.

P1070923

Ibis in flight (click to enlarge)

 

 

Although I have caught a fleeting glimpse of a couple of turtles in the shallow pools and the undergrowth has more than healthy population of insects; it is the bird life that is dominating my walk around the wetlands. The reeds that encircle the water are a veritable cathedral of birdsong. I can hear the twitter of finches and reed warblers in the tangle of greenery and occasionally catch sight of one of the tiny birds flitting amongst them. Finally a superb blue wren makes a more prolonged appearance as it perches on a reed stem giving me just enough time for one last shot before I leave.

P1070928

Superb blue wren (click to enlarge)

 

Cheers

Baz

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