Tag Archives: red browed finch

Title Kangaroo Island….Day 2 Lesueur Conservation Park

30 Jul

Rosenberg’s Monitor a little upset

Dear Reader:

Grey clouds are shrouding the sky this morning and a cool wind is sweeping in from the sea. I check the weather app and there doesn’t seem to be any rain forecast for the day though the light will be poor.  My Sony RX10 has the larger sensor of my two cameras and seems the obvious choice for today’s jaunt through the nearby Lesueur Conservation Park.

 

Wildlife and Farm life

The unsealed road from the lodge towards Lesueur has been recently graded which makes travelling a little easier and I reach the turn off to the park in a few minutes. There is low scrubby forest to my left and verdant grazing land on the right. To my surprise, a flock of sheep near a small water hole are sharing their territory with Black Swans. A sweep with the telephoto also reveals a few Masked Lapwings and Grey Currawongs in the paddock.

 

Pea flower species

Blue Cockatoo Orchid

I make the signposted turn to Lesueur CP and a little way down the road I notice a cage trap set under a grass tree; I assume it is for feral cats which are a threat to all Australian wildlife from reptiles to birds. Today there are very few animals around which is fairly typical in cool overcast conditions and I decide to fossick around in the scrub adjacent to the road. The first thing I notice is the proliferation of flowering plants including native pea flower species and delicate blue orchids.

 

Grey Fantail and Silvereye

Red-browed Finch

There are small birds high in the trees but they are hard to identify. I come across a deep rut in the road which is partially filled with water. The vehicle scares several small birds away which are using the pool as a bathing area. After driving a several hundred metres down the track I leave the car and approach the ‘bird bath’ stealthily through the scrub. Taking up a position about fifty metres away I wait and within ten minutes they return. Long shots on a cloudy day do not make for award winning images but they do help me identify these small birds as; Silvereyes, Grey Fantails and Red-browed Finches. Meanwhile a large centipede is burrowing through the leaf litter next to the log I am sitting on. Telephoto to macro in a split second supports my use of bridging cameras in some circumstances.

 

Rosenberg’s Monitor (like all monitor lizards it has a forked tongue similar to that of a snake)

Centipede species

The wildflowers, centipede and small bird species have made the excursion into the park interesting and I am sure it is worth another visit on a more amenable day. I leave the park and take another randomly chosen track which takes me away from the coastal fringe. Five minutes along this route I see the flattened shape of a large lizard by the side of the road. I stop and take a closer look hoping it has not been injured or killed by a car. As I approach the goanna/monitor which instantly informs me of my error with a hiss and quick, aggressive lunge. I take a couple of shots and usher the animal away from the road.

 

Creek scene

 

View from the lodge

A little further on, the road passes over a small creek which is picturesque even on a dull day. It then intersects with another road, which my GPS informs me, leads back towards ‘Seadragon Lodge’( see link below for more information) where I started my day’s adventure. By now the clouds have shifted and patches of blue sky are brightening up the day. Time to relax, put a log in the combustion heater and sort through my images while enjoying the view across the gully to the ocean.

Cheers

Baz

Additional notes

Seadragon Lodge……  https://seadragonlodge.com.au/

This is an easy drive which is quite suitable for families and seniors and the lodge is wonderful with magnificent views and abundant wildlife.

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 articles

https://www.weekendnotes.com/profile/651267/

 

Naracoorte’s Creekside Walk

18 Mar

Dear Reader:

It is a rather overcast day, predicted to warm up in the afternoon when the light will be better for taking photographs. However, I am making the best of the conditions as I walk beside the little creek bed that runs alongside the caravan and camping park. There are parrots high in the canopy but they are too difficult to see clearly. I am just about to give up when a woman calls too me from the other side of the creek where some lovely properties sit amongst well-tended lawns. “If you are interested, there are some Tawny Frogmouths in the tree on this side”. Needless to say, I am interested.

 

Tawny Frogmouths

 

Naracoorte is around a four hour’s drive south east of Adelaide and the caravan park has powered sites, camping areas and chalets. For families; there is a swimming lake (yes! a lake), putting course, small railway and plenty of running around space. The area around Naracoorte also has an abundance of wildlife parks as well as the world heritage Naracoorte Caves where you can delve into the mysteries of the megafauna (large animals) that still roamed this region a mere 15000 years ago.

 

Nearby Naracoorte Caves

 

As I cross a small bridge back to the pathway, I notice some parrots on the lawns. It is unusual to see two species of birds foraging side by side. In this instance there are both Galahs (Rose Breasted Cockatoos) and Red Rumped Parrots feeding together. They seem engrossed and I can get reasonably close before taking a shot.

 

Galahs and Red-Rumped Parrots

 

The creek bed close to the park is quite dry and a variety of grasses and bushes are growing in it. I can hear the twittering of wrens and occasionally I catch a glimpse of the iridescent blue plumage of male Superb Blue Wrens. However, it is the brightly coloured Red-browed Finches that are easier to photograph as they emerge from the thickets to feed on seeding grasses.

 

TRed-Browed Finch

 

As I make my way towards the town along the Creekside trail the nature of the waterway changes. Several large pools lead into a long channel traversed by a footbridge. Numerous aquatic birds including: Ducks, Moorhens and Swamphens are swimming and feeding in the water and amongst the reed beds.

 

Purple Swamphen

I crouch to get a low angle on a Purple Swamphen when a Kookaburra bursts out of the gum tree above me. I watch its flight path carefully and note that it is in another gum on the far side of the bank near the bridge. A tricky shot in the low light and shrouded by leaves. Once again my camera comes through and considering the difficult conditions I am able to get quite a reasonable image due to the versatility of my Nikon P900 and a little post- image Photoshop.

 

Kookaburra after some Photoshop magic

 

My stroll along the Creekside pathway is at an end and I can certainly endorse this walk to anyone visiting Naracoorte and interested in wildlife. The caravan park owner also recommended the Naracoorte Hotel for an excellent meal at a reasonable price; definitely my next stop, as it is only a couple of hundred metres from the footbridge crossing.

 

Creek and path near the footbridge

 

Cheers

Baz

Additional notes

This is an easy walk which is quite suitable for families and seniors with public toilets, barbecues, parking and other facilities nearby. It is dog friendly.

See more South Australian stories and pictures in Weekend Notes

https://www.weekendnotes.com/profile/651267/

 I have recently spent time in Africa and the link below will allow you to enjoy images and field notes describing some of my encounters with the wonderful wildlife of Botswana and Zambia. I will try to attach a new image and notes each month.

https://wildlifemomentssa.blogspot.com

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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