Tag Archives: marsupials

Flinders Ranges Moments

14 Aug

Grazing sheep in the Flinders Ranges

Dear Reader:

Several deep gorges cut through the Flinders Ranges from east to west. They can be comfortably traversed by conventional vehicles in dry weather but in the wet they are hazardous and 4WD is a necessity. In these images I push my vehicle through relatively shallow water after measuring the depth first then attach a tow rope to a vehicle that didn’t quite make it.

A calculated and tested crossing

Didn’t get it quite right

The Flinders Ranges are around 800 million years old and are the result of the uplifting, folding and consequent erosion of an ancient, shallow sea bed. Their sedimentary rocks contain fossils of some of the Earth’s earliest life forms known as the Ediacra fauna. The ranges are the ancestral home of the Adnyamathanha (pronounced ud-ya-mutna) people who have lived there for over 40,000 years.

Layers (strata) of sedimentary rock

Four different kinds of Macropods (kangaroos and wallabies) live in the Flinders ranges: Western Grey Kangaroos, Red Kangaroos, Euros or Common Wallaroos and Yellow-footed Rock-Wallabies. Western Greys live in low forested areas, Reds prefer dry open plains, Euros live in the foothills and the rare Yellow-footed Rock-Wallabies prefer higher rocky slopes. There is some overlap between the habitats of all these species.

Red Kangaroos

Euro, Hill Kangaroo or Wallaroo

Yellow-footed Rock-Wallaby feeding in Brachina Gorge

Birdlife is prolific throughout the ranges and include a wide variety of species ranging from tiny finches and Budgerigars to Wedge-tailed Eagles and Emus. While taking friends from the USA around Wilpena Pound and Brachina Gorge, in the heart of the Flinders, we stopped to photograph birds on numerous occasions.

Getting up close

Nice result

This wild and beautiful region has much to offer in terms of fauna both ancient and modern. However, the plants of this rugged landscape are just as fascinating: Sugar Gums, Cypress-pine, Flinders Wattle, Flax Lilies and the SA state emblem the Sturt’s Desert Pea are just a few examples.

Sturt’s Desert Pea

Although the Flinders Ranges is a truly wild destination it also has a significant human perspective. There are ancient First Nations art sites, a world-renowned hotel featuring local cuisine, working stations (farms) and a significant arts and crafts community. From my own perspective as a photographer, there are the remnants of old settlements such as stockyards, settler ruins, old mine shafts and other relics of the Flinder’s early settlement, all backed by stunning landscapes.

Lunch at the Prairie Hotel



Additional notes

Please pass on this blog title and or contact information (URL) to any person or organisation with an interest in taking walks and enjoying wildlife in SA.

Click on this link and see more South Australian stories and pictures in my Weekend Notes articleshttps://www.weekendnotes.com/profile/651267/

Mad March Possums

5 Apr

Dear reader

Each season in our southern state has its own natural highlights, For many March in Adelaide is a very special month; one where culture and wildlife seem to interconnect in rather unusual ways.

The city of Adelaide is separated from the outer suburbs by over 760 hectares of parklands. They consist of playing fields, open woodland, creeks and gardens. Most of the year, the parklands are frequented by joggers, cyclists and picnicking families. However, each March the serenity of the eastern parklands is replaced by the roar of V8 motors, the rhythms of international music and a surreal feast of various performing artists.

A Open woodland environment of the Adelaide parklands

A Open woodland environment of the Adelaide parklands

Now, you would think that such an onslaught of humanity; its sounds, lights and smells would frighten the daylights out of the parklands’ resident wildlife. Admittedly, the local birds do seem a little more nervous and the resident bat population somewhat more erratic in their coming and goings. On the other hand, the possum population seems to relish the activity. Although they are not obvious to the casual observer, when the troubadours, drivers and musicians retire for the night these masters of the nocturnal world emerge to search for the spoils of the day.

Fruit Bats or Grey- headed Flying -foxes are found in the Botanic Gardens which are situated within  the Parklands

Fruit bats or grey- headed flying -foxes are found in the Botanic Gardens which are situated within the Parklands

Over the last few years I have enjoyed the city’s March festivities and often wandered down the east end to take in a concert, play or watch the ‘V8 Supercars’ burn up the track. This year, I decided to walk home after a late night performance and was more than surprised to see a couple of common brushtail possums foraging near an overflowing trash can. Normally solitary, these cat sizes marsupials seemed indifferent to each other as they sought out some apple and banana leftovers, a welcome change to their usual diet of leaves, buds and native fruits. I was aware that possum numbers had generally declined throughout the state due to habitat changes and predation by feral animals, most notably cats. I watched them for a while thinking to myself that if a little party food on the side bolstered their survival chances who was I to take the purist stand on natural diets for our indigenous species.

Brush Tail Possums use their delicate paws and sharp claws for feeding, climbing and grooming

Brush tail possums use their delicate paws and sharp claws for feeding, climbing and grooming

Unfortunately, I was not carrying a camera and decided to return the next evening at the unearthly hour of 4 am armed with my DSLR and long lens, in the hope of capturing a few shots. I was not disappointed. One particular animal that was sitting by the side of a trash can taking stock of the menu decided to climb up into a nearby tree as I approached. Staring defiantly at me as I adjusted the flash setting to suit the telephoto, it conveniently struck a number of typically possum-like poses then promptly disappeared into the upper branches once the modelling session had finished.

A possum's yellow fur shows where its pouch is situated

The yellowish fur on a female possum’s fur shows where its pouch is situated

I crossed to the other side of the road and scanned some native pine trees with a high powered flashlight. The stand of trees was situated just inside the perimeter fence of the aptly named ‘Garden of Unearthly Delights’, one of the festivals most notorious attractions. I was hoping to flush out a ringtail possum, a smaller less frequently seen species. Unfortunately there were none to be found but I did manage to find a brushtail climbing the trunk of a large pine using its prehensile tail to hold on while testing the capability of a smaller branch to bear its weight.

Brushtail Possum foraging in a native pine tree

Brushtail possum using its prehensile tail while foraging in a native pine tree

On the whole it was a successful night though I would dearly have liked to see a ringtail. Perhaps another night when sleep eludes me and the lure of the city’s indigenous nightlife beckons I’ll capture that image.



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