Tag Archives: red browed finch

Waitpinga…. Scrub and Surf

26 Jul

Waitpinga…. Scrub and Surf 

Dear Reader:

I am in the little parking area at the Newland Head Conservation Park, just a twenty minute drive from Victor Harbor. On the grassy verge near a stand of pink gums, a small group of red-browed finches are feeding on seeds. It is a wonderful way to start my late afternoon exploration of this diverse coastal park.

2 Red-browed finches like to live in thick ndergrowth

Red-browed finches like to live in thick undergrowth

 

 

A series of trails branch out from this sheltered camp ground. They wind through the scrub providing access to the beach and rock climbing areas or simply wind through the scrub that lies behind a series of coastal dunes.

3 coastal scrub dominated by wattles and casuarina trees

Coastal scrub dominated by wattles and casurina trees

 

I choose a trail that runs parallel to the dunes. It is dominated by coastal acacia bushes where a variety of small birds flit amongst the foliage chattering and calling to each other. I fire off a few shots in the low light conditions to try and identify the species. One bird is definitely a grey fantail the other is bouncing on the thin branches as it feeds on seed pods. Perhaps it is a robin or thornbill species; hard to tell but that is the challenge of wildlife photography in these conditions.

 

 

What is it a thornbill or a robin

What is it a thornbill or a robin?

Grey fantails

Grey fantails are often found in coastal scrub

 

From the campground the road descends towards the beach. To the right a seasonal creek spreads into a shallow lake behind a set of dunes that are continually eroded by wind and water. I pull the car into a siding and walk along the edge of the lake. The wildlife here is quite prolific. A pair of kangaroos bound out of the scrub in front of me and there are black swans, coots and several duck species on the water. In one small bush, growing amongst the long grass, silvereyes are feeding on berries.

The creek spreads to a small lake just behind some low coastal dunes

The creek spreads to a small lake just behind some low coastal dunes

Silvereyes feed on insects, fruit and nectar

Silvereyes feed on insects, fruit and nectar

 

As I approach the beach I can hear the roar of the surf over the car’s motor. This is a classic southern beach with white water breaks that stretch several hundred metres out to sea. In the afternoon light the sand is pale gold contrasting the darker figures of anglers casting for salmon from the beach. There are silver gulls crowding around their bait buckets and several of their larger cousins, Pacific gulls, are patrolling the edge of the surf.

Fishing the surf gutters at Waitpinga Beach

Fishing the surf gutters at Waitpinga Beach

Pacific gulls forage along the edge of the ocean eating a wide variety of foods from fish to moluscs and even other birds

Pacific gulls forage along the edge of the ocean eating a wide variety of foods from fish to molluscs and even other birds

 

 

It has been a rewarding afternoon at ‘Waits’ and I have enough time to drive back to Victor Harbor and enjoy an afternoon meal sitting on the decking of the Whalers restaurant enjoying a wonderful view of Encounter Bay. And, at this time of year, even the chance of a whale sighting.

bluff vh

Dinner overlooking the bluff

 

I hope you take the time to enjoy this lovely bit of our coastline sometime in the near future.

 

Cheers Baz

Kids, Kookaburras and Creeks

4 Oct

Dear Readers

It would be lovely to write for a living. To earn my dollars wandering South Australia’s diverse wilderness areas taking photos and composing articles to share with you. Dream over….reality check! Like most of the world I need a steady job to survive and my profession is teaching. One of the many requirements at my school is to take my year 6 students on camp each year. Fortunately, Adelaide has many wonderful destinations in the adjacent hills and along the coastline that provide a range of outdoor activities. Many of these sites also double as corporate destinations. This year we chose Wirraway a campsite located on the eastern fringe of the Mt Lofty Ranges. It is a beautiful location situated amongst rolling hills with a little creek running through the property. And, to my delight their program included a nature walk along with the adventure activities.

G

Typical hills country

 

Each morning I woke at six and reluctantly dragged my weary bones out of bed; any teachers reading this will immediately understand that the previous night’s sleep was limited to a few hours. The students were not allowed out of their dorms until 7.00 which gave me an hour to wander around the grounds uninterrupted. Campsites always attract wildlife. However well intentioned the staff may be there are always a few food scraps to be had, nooks and crannies to nest or hide in as well as wood piles and building materials that might be home to both predator and prey. On my first morning a pair of rats scurried under the raised foundations of the caretaker’s home watched with interest by me and anticipation by a kookaburra sitting in a an old gum tree (there’s a song title there).

kooka2 red

Hungry kookaburra

 

The camp site was also home to a wild rabbit that liked to munch the grass close to one of the girls’ dorms but scurried back into the bushes at the slightest noise. Each time it appeared I tried to signal the students to be quiet and take a look…no such luck. Only a picture snapped in the quiet hours and shown at the dinner table convinced them that I was not making it up.

A

Peter makes a rare appearance

 

Both male and female superb blue wrens were common though timid and constantly on the move keeping low in the bushes and feeding in the leaf litter. And a resident flock of red browed finches moved between the flowering trees and bushes often coming close when I was working with the students and staying away if I had a camera nearby. Fancy that!!

C

Male superb blue wren

B

Finches all in a line

 

Our nature walk was quite a revelation. You would not expect city kids to be overly responsive to a lengthy stroll in the bush when the alternative activities included horse riding, archery and rock climbing. Surprisingly, they showed a keen interest in what the guide had to say and even sat quietly by the creek for a few minutes trying to work out how many different frog species could be identified from their distinctive calls. Even the plant life scored a hit, most notably the unusual grass trees that were flowering at the time and an old weathered log with lichen and moss growing in its sinuous furrows.

E

Flowering grass plants

F

Patterns and colours in nature

 

The three days passed quickly and each group appeared to enjoy their excursions into the bush.  Kids get few opportunities to experience the outdoors in our digital world and watching their faces as they discovered the beauty of wild things was a rare pleasure.

 

Until my next post

Cheers

Baz

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