Tag Archives: Mudlark

Spring Garden Moments

3 Nov

Dear Reader:

There is a Mudlark foraging in the garden bed. At first I think it is searching for food. The garden has just been watered which makes it easy for birds to probe the soft soil for grubs. Besides, there may be a few seeds left over from those that I scatter each morning for the doves. I peer through the telephoto lens and realise that the little bird is collecting small twigs and leaves from the mulch around the flowers. It is also adding mud from the soft soil around the sprinkler head. Ahh; realisation dawns. Nest building time.


Magpie Lark with nesting material in beak


Spring has arrived in my Prospect garden and all about there are signs of the changing seasons. Flowers are blooming and insects are hatching. Tiny Lynx Spiders are hunting amongst the blossoms and leaves, and a variety of colourful bugs are crawling across the foliage.

Lynx Spider with prey


The Mudlarks have flown off and I can walk around the garden without scaring the nervous little birds away. I take stock of the different flowers that are emerging; bright yellow and white daisies, tangerine Abutilons, and pink Rock Roses. They attract a wide range of small creatures and I get close enough to a yellow daisy bush to capture images of a Hoverfly, Shield Bug and Woolly Bear caterpillar all feeding on the same plant.


Jewell Bug
Woolly Bear Caterpillar feeding on emerging blossom


Spring also heralds a time of intense gardening with plants to trim and weeds to pull. And it is while I am cutting back a patch of Lantana that I disturb a lovely, slender lizard about 15 cms in length. I take note of its hiding place and get the camera. Luckily the lizard hasn’t moved too far and I manage a couple of nice shots. It is probably a Four-toed Earless Skink.


Skink digging into soil


I sit back at my garden table, rest the camera on my lap and watch the honeyeaters flying between the blossoms and hawking for insects. They appear to be feeding young ones that are roaming around in the undergrowth. There is also a pair of blackbirds hunting for worms and grubs where I have extracted weeds from the lawn. They get a mouthful of the wriggling creatures then fly off; obviously feeding chicks too.


Blackbird with beak full of goodies for chicks


All of these events are occurring in the back garden but I know there are different interactions in the front yard. Armed with a camera and cup of tea I sit on the front porch and wait for something to happen….I do not have to ‘sit and sip’ for long. A pair of Rainbow Lorikeets fly into a nesting hole in one of the White Cedars that line my street. A nice way to end a spring garden experience.


Rainbow Lorikeet perching
Rainbow Lorikeet entering nesting hole

Check out what is happening in your garden and share some observations in the comments section of my blog.   



For this [project I used a Canon Eos camera and a Tamron 16-400 lens which helped me work in lower light conditions and for close up macro images….very versatile set up.

Please pass on my 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 articles


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Grange Hotel


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.


Mudlark foraging along pathway

8 1

Bearded dragon picking up some rays



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



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



Wildlife and Pub Food at the Port

25 Oct

Dear Reader;

It is a mild spring afternoon and there is barely a breath of wind to ruffle the waters of the inner harbour. A pair of sooty oyster catchers are foraging between the exposed rocks on the southern embankment. They are using their powerful blade-like beaks to prise shellfish from the rocks and dig in the sand for worms and crabs. The bright red beaks and eyes look like they have been painted by an artist with an exaggerated disposition for contrast.


Sooty oyster catchers foraging at low tide (click on all images to enlarge)


Soon to be lunch


I am walking around the wharves and shoreline of Port Adelaide. Originally nicknamed Port Misery by the early settlers who came ashore amongst the mangroves, mud and mosquitoes that once dominated the area; the Port has undergone many changes. Once a lively harbour that berthed dozens of ships delivering the provisions to establish a new colony; it is now a quieter, quayside community. People now come to the Port from the city, just 15 minutes away, to visit the maritime museum, shop at the weekend markets or go for a cruise along the Port River to catch sight of the world’s only urban dolphin pod.


Dolphin cruise ship moored at the wharf


From the foreshore I walk past the pub and on to the old Birkenhead Bridge, the first bascule or lifting bridge in Australia. Glancing down at the old jarrah poles, driven hard into the river bed where they once stood as moorings, I notice that several silver gulls have chosen the iron clad posts as nesting sites. Every so often one of the birds lifts off its scruffy nest and checks the eggs, sometimes giving one a little push with its beak, perhaps to keep the distribution of heat even.


Nesting silver gull


Silver gull adjusting egg position


I watch the birds for half an hour. While one sits on the nest the other flies off in search of food further along the shoreline amongst the same rocks the oystercatchers were exploring just a little while ago. The foraging gull tugs on the end of a tube worm protruding from the fine sand and mud. It is about to extract the hapless invertebrate when a mudlark, usually a woodland species, emerges from a clump of nearby bushes and relieves the seabird of its prize.


Mudlark feeding along the shoreline


Like the gull and mudlark I figure it’s about time for lunch and head for the Birkenhead Tavern and one of the best chicken schnitzels the Port has to offer.

the pub

Birkenhead tavern

Sorry, only one post this month!!!!!

Have been travelling overseas

Until next time



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.


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.


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.


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.


Juvenile miner bird watching out for new Holland honeyeaters


Until our next chat


A Sunday Walk…….Hackney Street Bridge

1 Mar

Dear reader

South Australia’s wild expanses are vast and the wildlife fascinating  in these remote areas but the cities and towns have their own natural features and often the wildlife is equally prolific and interesting in these urban spaces.

The River Torrens flows from the Adelaide hills through the city and on to the coast. It is an effective wildlife corridor supporting a wide range of animals and plants. The government of South Australia, along with local councils and interested wildlife groups, have crafted the aptly named ‘Linear Park’ along the urban sector of the waterway. It is defined by a narrow strip of bushland that runs along the river from the hills suburb of Athelstone to its outlet at Henley Beach. Walking or cycling along sections of this trail is a great way to experience the wildlife of the region. In some areas there are also interpretive references and information about the Kaurna People; the original Aboriginal inhabitants of the Adelaide plains.

Bubble fountains installed in the river help reduce algal blooms in the hot summer months

Bubble fountains installed in the river help reduce algal blooms in the hot summer months

The section of park that runs between the two bridges spanning Hackney and Frome roads is one of my favourite haunts. Although it is on the very fringe of the city centre there is a surprising amount of wildlife for the careful observer to enjoy. My last walk along this section of the river was an early morning jaunt on a Sunday. I shared the path with a few cyclists and joggers all blissfully unaware of the interesting creatures that they were passing.

Cyclist crossing linear park behind the Zoo

Cyclist crossing linear park behind the Zoo

Several stands of large eucalypts overhang this part of the river providing perfect roosting sires for great cormorants. This particular morning several of the birds were puffing out their neck feathers and jockeying for position on some bare branches trying to catch the first rays of the sun filtering through the canopy. As I walked along the bank they started to stretch their wings and glide down to the water to begin the morning’s hunt for fish, frogs and occasional water kkink.

Great Cormorants roosting in trees overhanging the Torrens Lake

Great cormorants roosting in trees overhanging the Torrens Lake

And there were quite a few nervous skinks for the cormorants to set their sights on. Amongst the tall papyrus reeds that grow along much of the bank, I could hear the rustle of the little reptiles as they scurried into the dense matt of stalks and grasses. Eventually one of the lizards decided that freezing was a better escape strategy and I was able to capture an image before it too, disappeared into the reeds. The area seemed to have quite a large population of lizards so I adopted a sit and wait policy. A few minutes later my patience was rewarded when I noticed two cormorants fishing close to the reeds.  After several failed attempts one of the birds emerged with either a slender fish or a lizard firmly clamped in its hooked beak which it then dispatched with a quick gulp.

A water skink freezes in the undergrowth near the river bank

A water skink freezes in the undergrowth near the river bank


The first half an hour of my walk had taken me along the western bank up to the Frome Road Bridge. From there I crossed the river and walked back along the opposite side. Small groups of Pacific and maned ducks were feeding close to the bank and a small Australian grebe was having an energetic wash in a sheltered pool.  But it was a colourful dragonfly that really caught my attention as it flitted over the water eventually settling on the branch of a gum tree. One brief moment for a photo op and it was gone.

Dragonfly on eucalyptus branch

Dragonfly on eucalyptus branch

My final wildlife encounter was with a couple of mudlarks that had built a cup shaped mud nest in one of the taller eucalypts that grew out from the bank. One of these territorial little birds was aggressively defending its territory against a large raven that had landed too close to their nesting site. The other bird was perched on a branch peering into the bushes near the water in search of prey.

A Mudlark perches on a branch watching for insects

A mudlark perches on a branch watching for insects


Insects, reptiles, birds and a good walk; not a bad way to spend the morning- just one final touch, breakfast in one of Adelaide’s parkland bistros a few minute’s drive from the river.



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