Tag Archives: koala

A Morning at the Zoo with Quinn

27 Feb

Dear reader: 

It is a warm Adelaide morning and the shady paths of the zoo are a labyrinth of intrigue for a nearly three year old. Around every turn there is a new enclosure full of sights, sounds and animals that she had only previously experienced in picture books.

7

A pair of king parrots provide a suitable backdrop for a tiger striped Quinn

 

3

The zoo is situated by the river just over the Frome Road Bridge

 

 

A misty spray of water shrouds the koala and Tasmanian devil enclosures in anticipation of the midday heat. It proves irresistible to our little granddaughter and sends her squealing down the path shouting, “bear, bear, bear!” I stand and watch the ‘really not bears’ as they stoically munch on eucalyptus leaves and fire off a couple of frames. Sometimes the images that can be taken in a zoo are invaluable additions for later projects.

1

A koala chews on eucalyptus leaves that would be inedible even toxic to any other species of marsupial

 

 

Half a vegemite sandwich and an ice cream later a little hand tugs mine and a voice whispers, “ Pop, kangaroo”. She is almost right, as a pair of yellow footed rock wallabies emerge from behind a tree in an open enclosure a few metres away. One of the little marsupials has a joey in its pouch; a difficult image for any photographer to catch in the wild.

6

A young yellow footed rock wallaby peering out from the safety of its mother’s pouch

 

 

The nocturnal house proves to be a real challenge. Try telling a toddler to be quiet as she goes through a dark tunnel lined with glass exhibits featuring bats and other night time wildlife. Near the entrance there are some aquariums which she finds quite fascinating (translate as…actually stops moving for a few seconds) giving me the opportunity to photograph some purple spotted gudgeons, one of our threatened native fish species. Yet another example of the pictorial opportunities that only captive animals can provide the amateur photographer.

2 purple spotted gudgeon

Purple spotted gudgeon are found in South Australia’s freshwater streams and lakes

 

 

Ironically, our final wildlife moment is not one that the Royal Zoological Society can claim credit for. Just as we are leaving and wandering past the hippos, Nan’s favourite exotic animal, we hear a family excitedly chattering about a spider. And there, strung in front of the hippo pool is last night’s tattered web of a sizeable orb weaver with the resident arachnid devouring a hapless dragonfly. Quinn says “yuck”, Nan scoops her up and I click away merrily wishing that I had brought the DSLR instead of popping the point and shoot in my pocket to ensure hands free, child minding capabilities.

4

A large orb weaver makes short work of an unfortunate dragonfly

 

 

By now the temperature is getting into the mid thirties and it is time to leave. She does not want to go. “More animals Pop.” A good sign for the future.

 

Cheers

Baz (and Quinn)

Mt Lofty on a Winter’s Day

12 Jul

Dear Reader:

Last weekend was cool and clear, perfect winter weather for a visit to Adelaide’s highest point, Mt lofty. The bush covered peak is a mere twenty minutes drive from the city along the SE freeway and the viewing deck and restaurant are surrounded by tall eucalypts that are home to a variety of wildlife.

AD A view from the top  (click to enlarge)

A view from the top (click to enlarge)

A selection of walking trails and bike tracks converge on the summit and earlier in the year I had spent some time walking along their lower sections photographing wildlife. However, on this occasion I had decided to see if the distribution of species was different at a slightly higher altitude in the cooler months.

AG Mt Lofty summit - Copy

Mt Lofty summit (click to enlarge)

The summit was quite busy with a smattering of mountain bikers and walkers using the trails and dozens of casual visitors simply enjoying coffee and the view from the observation deck and glass fronted dining areas. As I knelt down by my pack to select a lens I heard the chattering call of some blue wrens that were flitting between some nearby bushes and diving into the undergrowth. I watched their antics for a few minutes before heading off on one of the shorter trails that circle the summit.

AC2 C

Male blue wren surveying his territory(click to enlarge)

AH White backed magpie (click to enlarge)

White backed magpie (click to enlarge)

After walking for several minutes I noticed a sizeable magpie foraging for grubs amongst the grass and rocks. As I paused to take a few shots a group of Japanese tourists stopped and asked about the different birds in this area. We spent an enjoyable few minutes chatting and comparing their native species to ours; it transpired that they were an ornithological party on a study tour.

AE Natve heath - Copy

Native heath (click to enlarge)

AB Rosella feeding in the trees (click to enlarge)

Rosella feeding in the trees (click to enlarge)

A little further along the trail the greens and browns of the understory were enhanced by small patches of bright red flowers belonging to one of the hardy little heaths that flowers in the winter months. But the real splash of colour on this winter’s day was a colourful Adelaide rosella that was feeding on berries high in the branches above me. This was quite unusual as virtually every rosella I have observed feeding has been foraging on the ground for seeds and tubers.

AA Large male koala near the restaurant entrance - Copy

Large male koala near the restaurant exit (click to enlarge)

Mount Lofty, as I have pointed out, is a prime tourism site and in keeping with this status it provided one final surprise. A large male koala, that seemed to be extending a farewell gesture of pure Australiana, was comfortably tucked into the forked branches of a large gum tree alongside to the exit path.

Cheers

Baz

Quinn and Pop do Cleland

21 Apr

Dear Reader:

Though I have photographed wildlife for over 30 years, I still get excited when I see an unusual bug in the garden or hear the screech of sulphur crested cockatoos on my morning bike ride. However, every photographer needs an extra bit of inspiration; that fresh way to see the world. Mine came from taking two year old Quinn to explore Cleland Wildlife Park in the Adelaide Hills. Seeing a child experience the beauty and mystery of nature is something that no amount of field experiences can ever compete with. With a little hand tucked in mine I was guided along the bushland paths to the sound of……

“Pop come see.”

“Look croos!!”…. (kangaroos, I presumed correctly)

 

IMG_3608

My first wildlife park

Quinn loves animals, she has a dog, a cat and often toddles down the road to the local wetlands where every bird species is still classified as a duck. At Cleland she was overwhelmed by the variety of new animals and ran between marsupials and reptiles then on to the birds (ducks) with ever increasing gusto. The wildlife was not quite as enthusiastic about her energy levels and tended to disappear with a hop, scuttle or ‘flap of wing’ as the two year old whirlwind bore down on them. The combined wisdom of Mum and Nan tried to instil a sense of calm and caution when dealing with wildlife but the concept did not seem to gel with her two year old philosophy.

IMG_3648

Quinn has a puppy too…not quite a dingo

IMG_3684

Stop croo stop

 

Unsurprisingly, the koalas were a particular hit. She probably associated their solid, furry bodies and bear-like appearance with the plethora of animated cartoon characters featured in various children’s programs. Next time we will get the obligatory ‘kid with koala’ image but on this public holiday excursion the overseas visitor line stretched away into the horizon. A few minutes watching the iconic marsupials climbing, snoozing and munching gum leaves, had to suffice; at least she was still for a while.

IMG_3654

An enclosure of cute

IMG_3651

Koala are not bears…a lesson for later

 

After an hour and half of unbridled, two year old enthusiasm we decided/hoped that she had used up her energy quota. Not so: near the gate there is an indoor complex that features species that require individual conditions such as specialised lighting, temperature control and enclosures that safeguard the public from venomous bites. In she went and spent the next 20 minutes staring at these more unusual animals which included: taipans, death adders and a variety of lizards. Eyes wide and somewhat subdued she grabbed my hand and repeated her, Pop come see’ request as we looked intently at each display.

mulga snake

Mulga snake or king brown… she really liked this one

 

Even as we left the park she was pointing and staring into the trees that surround Cleland in the apparent hope of seeing more wildlife. To be honest I was amazed and secretly wondering at what age a child can be trusted with her first digital camera.

IMG_3695

Before I become a naturalist I’ll try art

 

It was an exhilarating day in a lovely bushland setting; without doubt, a place to take the family and experience the wildlife that makes SA such an extraordinary place to live or visit.

Cheers

Baz

 

Footnote

She slept all the way home

Mum hit the sack at 8.00 pm

Nan rubbed in some back ointment

I pored over the camera and laptop to record a Quinn-based blog

A Hill’s Face Hike

16 Feb

Dear Reader:

The koala is well camouflaged and firmly wedged between two branches in a stunted eucalyptus tree which is growing on the edge of a steep slope. Getting a decent shot involves scrabbling through some spiky acacia bushes and perching myself precariously on the edge of a rocky outcrop. But a quick glance at the playback screen suggests that the effort has been worthwhile and a few more scratches on my legs are ‘par for the course’ in this terrain.

3 Koala near the trail head

Koala near the trail head

 

I am half way up Anstey Hill on the north eastern edge of the Adelaide Hills. This ‘hills face’ recreation park is part of the in the Greater Mount lofty Parklands and one of several reserves that permit hiking, walking dogs on leads while banning camping, mountain bikes and the lighting of any fires. Anstey Hill is only 8 Kms from the CBD, easily accessed from several major roads and close to quite a few reputable hotels and restaurants. In short, an ideal destination for a morning or afternoon walk followed by a meal and a glass of wine.

1 Local pub and restaurant

Local pub and restaurant

 

Satisfied with koala image I start take a winding trail towards the top of the hill emerging on its northern flank where the view across the cliff face towards the city and coast is quite spectacular. A winding trail skirts the ridge and there are still some late blooming wattles and melaleucas clinging to the rocky outcrops and a small group of new holland honeyeaters are feeding on the blossoms and hawking for insects.

2 View from the ridge

View from the ridge

 

Further along the trail a small stand of eucalypts pushes up through the lower layer of scrub and many of them are losing their outer layers of bark….an ideal opportunity to look for huntsman spiders which often search for prey in this micro environment. And luck is on my side after a little foraging a piece of bark with a sizeable huntsman comes away from the tree. These large spiders often come into suburban homes where they stay high on the walls and eat a whole collection of unwanted pests from mosquitoes and flies to earwigs and roaches.

4 Huntsman spider

Huntsman spider

 

I turn south at the top of the hill and head through a little section of bush that has recently been burnt. To my surprise a large, dark robber fly is perched on one of the blackened branches magnificently camouflaged as it waits for smaller insects to ambush.

5 Blackbugs on burnt trees

Robber fly on burnt trees

 

 

My final wildlife encounter is with a pied currawong. Related to crows and magpies these large omnivorous birds are not common on the Adelaide plains and prefer the higher elevations of the Mt Lofty Ranges. I have never seen them around this area before and have few photographs consequently; this capturing this image was quite a treat.

6 Pied Currawong

Pied Currawong

 

Now it’s lunch at the pub

 

Cheers

Baz

 

JET

%d bloggers like this: