Tag Archives: magpie

A Walk from Tennyson to Grange

11 Aug

A Walk from Tennyson to Grange

 Dear Reader;

As I follow the narrow footpath south from the cul-de-sac overlooking Tennyson beach towards the Grange jetty in the distance, I can see a bird of prey hovering just above the houses that spill down to the dunes. The sky is patchy, blue then grey as clouds blow in from the sea and it is difficult to locate the kestrel in the viewfinder. I take a few quick shots and hope for the best.

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Nankeen kestrel hovering

I am intrigued by the raptor and wait quietly close to a coastal wattle bush watching it patrol along the line of the dunes pausing periodically to hover and scan the terrain below for small animals. The birds in the surrounding scrub are not quite so keen. They head for cover deep in the bushes or under the eaves of the houses twittering their various warning calls.

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Singing honeyeater in shelter

A lovely little singing honeyeater hides in a dense tangle of branches while spotted doves remain motionless closer to the ground near some dried scrub that matches their subdued colouring. Both species are usually very wary in this dune habitat and hard to approach but I am obviously the lesser of two evils and able to get closer than usual to capture some images.

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Spooted dove

Continuing along the pathway, I am fascinated by the different architectural elements incorporated in many of the houses. There are domed chapel-like structures, facades of tinted glass and walls with pastel shades of ochre, pink and grey. Just before I reach the jetty the beautiful ‘Marines’ sit alongside the beach. This group of Victorian 3 story terraces was built in 1840 and they dominate the foreshore.

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At the trail head near Tennyson Beach

 After a wonderful lunch at the Grange Hotel and a walk along the jetty to check out the fishers and look for dolphins, I turn back for home. The wind is getting up so I opt to walk back down the path rather than along the beach front. There are numerous trails down to the sea allowing me deeper penetration into the scrub as well as a quick search for seabirds. On this visit they are few and far between bar a couple seagulls under the jetty.

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Grange Hotel

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From track to beach through the dunes

 

Near one of the beach access paths I stop to watch a mudlark foraging in the sand and notice a discarded Besser brick lying in a sunny patch near a patch of early flowering succulents. Much to my surprise there is a bearded dragon lizard perched on it, flattened out to extract every bit of heat from the masonry. These reptiles are not uncommon in the summer but in the winter I would have expected them to be tucked away hibernating until spring.

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Mudlark foraging along pathway

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Bearded dragon picking up some rays

 

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Still a few bugs around to eat for the dragon

Predators prey and unseasonal reptiles it has been a rewarding winter’s walk along the dunes enjoying the ocean, good food and quite an assortment of wildlife.

 

Enjoy your winter walks in SA

Cheers

Baz

Norwood’s Parade of Animals

29 Aug

Norwood’s Parade of Animals

 Dear Reader:

It has been rather a grey week but today the sun is showing its face at regular intervals and there is a blackbird singing in a tree above me. A good day for a walk around Norwood admiring the architecture before grabbing a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants and hotels that make the area a premier dining destination. But this old, established suburb with its towering trees and well-tended gardens also provides meals and homes for a wide variety of urban wildlife.

Juvenile male blackbird

1 One of the classic hotels in the Norwood area

One of the classic hotels in the Norwood area

 

Blackbird aside; the first indigenous species that grabs my attention is living between the petals of a bright yellow daisy bush. The diminutive flower spider hunts amongst the blooms for small insects. This one has ambushed a fly and is proceeding to wrap it in a web for a late afternoon snack.

2 Flower spider with lunch

Flower spider with lunch

 

A little further down the street I can hear the call of lorikeets as a pair of the colourful little parrots forage in the trees for seed and blossom. I follow them closely as they fly from the tree tops to a smooth barked gum tree right on the edge of Osmond Terrace, a busy boulevard that cuts through Norwood. Here, with traffic whizzing past, they are investigating a hole in the trunk as a potential nesting site.

2 Lorikeet feeding

Rainbow lorikeet feeding

2 Rainbow lorikeet scouting for real estate

Rainbow lorikeet scouting for real estate

2 Taking a closer look

Taking a closer look

2 Hey honey come take a look

Hey honey come take a look

 

Osmond Terrace is also home to a group of Australian magpies. I can see a raggedy nest high in one of the liquid amber trees that line the thoroughfare and when I focus the long lens on it, the head of a large chick is just visible. After ten minutes an adult bird arrives with a grub in its beak. A few minutes later I catch site of another bird digging for invertebrates in the lawn of a local school while a third sits, watching from the concrete facade of Vine House, one of the suburb’s historic buildings.

Adult magpie arriving at nest

Magpie feeding

Magpie feeding

keeping an eye on proceedings

Keeping an eye on proceedings

 

My final stop is Finn MacCool’s Irish Pub for lunch where a group of pigeons is also enjoying an alfresco bite to eat in slightly less salubrious circumstances. I started with an introduced species…might as well end on the same note.

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Common pigeons feeding on crumbs in the street

 

Until our next adventure

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.

Hallet Cove….a scrub and coastal walk

3 Apr

The walk from the park’s entrance is striking with the ocean forming a sapphire backdrop to the greens and greys of the scrub. Along the edge of the track stands of eucalypts dominate an understory of acacias, banksias and native grasses. Near the top of the trail, several wattle birds are feeding on a late autumn splash of flowers in the crown of a flowering gum. The largest of all the honeyeaters, these birds have a grating call reminiscent of an out of tune bagpipe.

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View from the park entrance

 

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Wattle bird

 

 

I scramble further down the track listening to the twittering of scrub birds in the bushes. It is difficult to identify any particular species and almost impossible to photograph them. After walking for a couple of hundred metres, I catch a glimpse of some wrens and miner birds deep in the labyrinth of foliage. Where the trail runs alongside a small creek at the foot of the hill, a singing honeyeater is perched on an exposed branch, finally providing one easy target.

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Singing honeyeater

 

 

Hallet Cove Conservation Park runs parallel to the coast about half an hour’s drive south of the city centre. It encompasses a range of habitats from sclerophyll forest to coastal heath and a classic wave cut platform below the cliff face. In addition to a healthy population of native animals the park has extraordinary geological and marine features that I will explore more fully in a later post. 

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The track winds through the scrub near a creek bed

   

 

I meet a group of elderly walkers on a small bridge that crosses the creek where the path starts to climb towards the top of the cliffs. As they tramp across the wooden planks a large water skink runs across, pausing momentarily before disappearing over the edge into the reeds.

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Skink on the bridge

 

 

Climbing southward up the track I take note of the dramatic changes in terrain. The hillside that rises from the cliff tops is dominated by low wind-swept shrubs and grasses and the coastline is defined by the wave cut platform. Near the edge of the cliffs, two magpies are probing the undergrowth with their long, powerful beaks. Suddenly the birds become agitated and take to the air. I look around for the source of their distress and catch sight of a kestrel hovering high above them. But this kestrel has made an error of judgement that soon becomes apparent as the maggies take it on in an aerial dogfight.

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Minding my own business

 

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Kestrel hunting

 

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Not on my turf

 

 

The final section of my trail follows the boardwalk along the top of the cliffs. I can see pacific gulls foraging in the rock-pools on the exposed shore and a colony of cormorants roosting on a rocky outcrop out to sea.

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Cormorants on offshore outcrop

 

 

After following the contours of the hillside for a kilometre the boardwalk slopes down to a stretch of beach, finally terminating at a car park and local eatery…The Boatshed Cafe. Simply grabbing a croissant and soft drink to eat on the beach or choosing a light meal from the excellent menu is an ideal way to wind up a morning stroll.

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Descent to the beach and cafe

 

 

I hope you enjoyed this little adventure

Cheers

Baz

I Wonder What the Neighbours are Doing?

11 Sep

Dear Reader:

It is a cool, early spring afternoon. I can hear annoyingly cheerful birds singing in the white cedars that line my street but I am bored stupid. Home from work with a cold but certainly not sick enough to stay in bed. What to do? Going for a walk along the beach or up in the hills would be foolish and daytime television is just one step above poking my eyes with a sharp stick. Decision made! I shall stroll up to the main road, pick up a magazine and have a cup of coffee with an inordinately unhealthy pastry at one the cosy little cafés that are dotted along Prospect Road.

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A mudlark finds grubs in the gutter (click all images to enlarge)

 

 

I am halfway through the door when I stop and think that it might be worth taking the camera along, though the chance of seeing something unexpected on a quiet suburban street at midday; is not very likely. It turns out that I am quite mistaken and my two hundred metre walk to the main drag is filled with interesting moments.

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Rainbow lorikeet feeding on a late flowering gum

 

First encounter; a pair of rainbow lorikeets are alternately feeding on a late flowering gum and taking turns to performs some trade-like renovations on a hollow branch in a nearby cedar. One of the parrots uses its powerful, curved beak to scour the edge of the entrance while the other pops in out and removing old bits of nest lining. They seem quite oblivious to my presence and allow me to get quite close.

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Rainbow lorikeets house hunting

 

I leave the rainbows to their reno-project and move further up the street. A Murray magpie is sorting its way through the leaf litter and other detritus deposited in the gutters by recent rains. Every so often it stops, cocks its head to one side and gulps down a worm or bug. Ironically, there is a classic white backed magpie sitting on the power line above watching its little namesake. Despite their titles, the two species are unrelated and it is only their colouring that encouraged early settlers to name the birds after the black and white European magpies. Although it is a large imposing bird this particular magpie has a serious handicap which is revealed when I take a look at its magnified image on the viewfinder. The powerful beak has been badly damaged making both feeding and defence a ‘tough ask’.

A busted beak makes life on the streets tough

A busted beak makes life on the streets tough

 

Even the cafe has its wildlife component as a squadron of New Holland honeyeaters perched in a courtyard tree argue over territory with the ever present miner birds and several sparrows and pigeons patrol beneath the tables in search of crumbs. But the standouts are still the rainbows and their nesting antics, which simply confirmed an unwritten rule that every wildlife photographer knows; take your camera, something will almost always surprise you.

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Juvenile miner bird watching out for new Holland honeyeaters

 

Until our next chat

Baz

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.

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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.

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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

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