Tag Archives: monarch butterfly

Old Noarlunga….A River Walk

17 Apr

Dear Reader;

As I pull the SUV into the parking area I can hear the sound of cockatoos and corellas foraging in the recreation area just a cross the road. At the beginning of the walking trail several monarch butterflies are hovering around a stand of late flowering eucalypts. They are all part of a sudden surge of activity following recent morning showers; a welcome distraction after a long hot summer and a dry start to autumn.


Corellas feeding



Monarch butterflies



There are several marked trails that I can take from the park but today I am simply following the bitumen path along the river front to get some idea of the terrain and wildlife. This side of the river is bordered by the little township of Old Noarlunga and the area is quite significant in terms of South Australian history. For thousands of years it was a meeting place for the Kaurna people who lived along the river banks in natural caves or dome shaped dwellings. Later, during the early years of European settlement the area was a rest stop for bullock trains and some of the timbers and bricks in the park are remnants from the old Horseshoe Inn that burnt down in 1987.


One of the larger pools



On the far side of the river, the summer brown hills rise steeply and there is mixture of native scrub and cleared grazing land. A wood and cable bridge links the two banks and a small group of students appear to be carrying out some kind of environmental survey on the opposite bank.


Footbridge across the river



The river is at its lowest during this time of the year; a series of large pools linked by pebble strewn shallows where the water flows slowly. At the far end of one pool a white faced heron is hunting stealthily amongst the rocks. Every so often the bird jabs its long beak into the water to grab, what appears to be, some kind of large insect larvae.


Grey faced heron hunting



After a while I decide to rest on a large tree stump above one of the larger pools and simply watch the water. Near the reed beds I can make out the shapes of some sizeable bream cruising between the bank and several submerged logs in the middle of the river. At the end of the pool there are large black cormorants perched on branches that overhang the water. Surprise!!! They are also watching the fish.


School of bream in shallow water



A few hundred meters further up the track there is a side road that leads to The Old Noarlunga Hotel. In the warm weather a drink and lunch are a welcome break before I head back on the other side of the river. As I start to pack away the camera, a flash of grey catches my eye. A large bird flies along the river bank and lands in the trees quite close to where I am standing. Pulling the camera back out, I walk slowly towards the target keeping a large tree in line for cover. It turns out that the bird is an Australian bittern, a heron-like species that is not often seen in the daylight hours.


Old Noarlunga Hotel



Australian bittern



Half an hour later, refuelled and rehydrated I shoulder arms and head back down to the river to explore the other bank. But that area will be the subject of a future post, perhaps in the springtime, when the character of the river will have changed again.




Kestrels at the Cape

25 Jul

Dear Reader:

It is late morning on a fine winter’s day and I am leaving the dirt road from Victor Harbor to join the main route back to Adelaide. As I round the curve the descent towards the coast is quite spectacular. From the top of the hill the road drops away sharply providing a panoramic view of open pastures dotted with small dams and patches of native vegetation. A corridor of lazy blue ocean separates the mainland from the island, which appears as a hazy outline on the horizon.

View from the top

View from the top (click to enlarge)

Closer to the coast a dirt track leads to a viewing point alongside a small stand of low trees and bushes. From the elevated position I watch the Sealink ferry crossing Backstairs Passage and stop to take a shot as it docks at the terminal below. While I focus on the ship I can hear the twittering of finches in the nearby scrub and catch a fleeting glimpse of two brightly coloured rosellas gliding into one of the taller bushes.

Rosella feeding in accacia tree

Rosella feeding in acacia tree (click to enlarge)

Sealink ferry docking at Cape Jervis with Kangaroo Island in background

Sealink ferry docking at Cape Jervis with Kangaroo Island in background (click to enlarge)

The ferry from Kangaroo Island docks at Cape Jervis on the southern tip of the Fleurieu Peninsula. It is one of my favourite places in the South Australia; from the little coastal hamlet you can visit local beaches and dive spots, access the Deep Creek Conservation Park, organise a charter fishing expedition or take a day trip to Kangaroo Island.

Rocky outcrops extending into the sea

Rocky outcrops extending into the sea (click to enlarge)

From the lookout I follow the road down to the lighthouse and park on a track a hundred metres back from the sea. The shoreline is a geology lesson in itself, with weathered ridges of dark rock ‘criss-crossed’ by veins of quartz, jutting into the ocean and patches of coarse sand and fractured rocks abutting the low earthen cliffs. In the distance I can see a line of giant wind turbines silhouetted on a faraway hilltop and the smell of salt air combined with the sound of waves breaking amongst the rocks fills my senses.

Nankeen kestral hovering above beach

Nankeen kestrel hovering above beach (click to enlarge)

As I move up the foreshore, picking my way between the boulders, I can see two  kestrels hovering over the beach. They seem to be systematically working together; one hovers for  a few minutes over the rocks then moves on while the other works the grassy slopes a little further inland. By pure chance they are slowly coming towards me so I lift the camera skyward and try to remain as still as humanly possible until the birds are almost directly above. I fire off a dozen shots and smile at my good fortune.

Monarch butterfly

Monarch butterfly (click to enlarge)

Pied crmorant by rockpool

Pied cormorant by rock pool (click to enlarge)

Raven with nesting material

Raven with nesting material (click to enlarge)

My walk provides a few more interesting moments: a cluster of monarch butterflies in a shrub that looks like milkweed, a lone pied cormorant sunning itself on one of the rocky outcrops that reach into the sea and a raven that is tearing up seaweed on the breakwater for nesting material. However, while I sit in the ferry terminal sipping a coffee, watching passengers returning from KI and reviewing my images I realise that it is the kestrels that have really made my day.



%d bloggers like this: