Tag Archives: rosella

A Walk to the Falls

12 Jul

Dear Reader

Last Saturday was a classic Adelaide winter’s day. It had rained the night before and a fine patina of dew decorated the shrubs in my garden. The sky was clear and despite a chill in the morning air it promised to be sunny and dry; perfect conditions for a walk in the park. Not any park though. My park of choice was a little conservation reserve nestled in the foothills about 20 minutes from the city centre. Like Waterfall Gully,  Morialta Conservation Park is graced by a series of waterfalls and steep walking trails that cut through a variety of classic bush habitats.

AB Typical sandstone and eucalypt bushland within the park

Typical sandstone and eucalypt bushland within the park

 The drive took me a little longer than expected as I was waylaid by the smell of freshly cooked pastries emanating from a little bakery. My rucksack now stocked with enough calories to sustain my upcoming physical endeavours and probably those of the next week, I pulled into the little car park alongside the creek, hung a camera from my shoulder and set off up the southernmost trail. The sun was still low in the sky and only the southern face of the steep-sided valley benefited from it.  I had walked just a few metres and was emerging from the shade when I noticed some walkers standing below a tall eucalyptus tree pointing excitedly at one of the higher branches. I followed their obvious line of sight and there, nestled into the fork between trunk and branch was a fairly large koala doing what koalas do best ….stretching out and resting.

AC Koala in tree near the trailhead

Koala in tree near the trailhead

The koala was an unexpected and encouraging start to the day and after spending few minutes watching it I started up the trail with a fair degree of optimism. Winter is never the best time for wildlife. Plants have fewer flowers and fruits and the insects that are attracted to them are in short supply. Of course there is always an up-side when it comes to nature and the damp ground makes it easier for some bird species to fossick for grubs and worms. A pair of blue wrens seemed to be making the best of these conditions, madly hopping from one tree branch to the next then down onto the ground in a never ending search for food. Their constant motion and the morning light gave me only a few half-chances to capture some images and no hope of freezing their motion completely. I did manage a couple of shots that showed some of the obvious differences between the male and female of this species.

AI Male blue wren

Male blue wren

AH Female blue wren

Female blue wren

A little further up the track I stopped and sat on a large boulder and scanned the undergrowth for insects or lizards. There was nothing to be seen or heard but I did notice some honeydew plants growing amongst the grasses near a rocky outcrop. These delicate little plants have tiny inverted cups radiating from their stems. The cups are fringed by small filaments and have sticky, viscous fluid in the centre. Unwary insects are trapped in the sweet heart of the cups and the filaments close on them to seal their fate. The unfortunate bug is then digested by its ‘vegetable’ captor providing essential nutrients that other plants might get from the soil.

AG Honeydew plant

Honeydew plant

 

Colourful wrens, cute koalas and carnivorous plants had provided quite a range of wildlife in the first kilometre or so of my walk. As expected, the wildlife had not been prolific but there always seemed to be something around the next bend if I took the time to pause and use all of my senses. The next few kilometres were enjoyable but largely uneventful. A few honeyeaters flitted between late flowering shrubs, a magpie nervously snatched a drink from the creek while a squadron of miner birds squabbled in a stand of acacia bushes. It was not until I was almost back to the car park and walking below some tall, pale eucalyptus trees that bordered the creek that my next significant encounter occurred.

AD Magpie drinking from the creek below the falls

Magpie drinking from the creek below the falls

A small group of rainbow lorikeets had gathered on the branches of a massive gum tree about 10 metres off the ground. They were screeching loudly and seemed quite agitated. I moved away so as not to scare them and sat quietly in the cover of some thick bushes watching closely through my long lens. The source of their consternation soon became obvious; a pair of galahs had commandeered a nesting hole in the trunk of the tree. Over the next half an hour I witnessed a heated real estate battle develop as a continual rotation of chattering rainbows tried to dislodge their larger rivals. Eventually the galahs moved off and one of the rainbow lorikeets immediately flew down and started to peck around the perimeter of the nest hole.

A A pair of rainbows watching galahs at nest site

A pair of rainbows watching galahs at nest site

AF Inspecting the new proerty

Inspecting the new property

I finished my walk sitting on the edge of the creek with a cappuccino from the coffee van that plies its trade on the weekend and a pastry from my stash. Not a bad way to spend a sunny winter’s day for any wildlife enthusiast.

 

Thanks for taking the time to read this post.

 

Cheers

Baz  

Adelaide’s Parkland Rosellas

4 May

Dear Reader Adelaide’s CBD is surrounded by parklands. They are a place for workers to enjoy during a lunch break or cyclists and joggers to traverse on the daily commute. They set the tone for the city and also provide a natural backdrop to the everyday business of the state’s vibrant capital. They were conceived by the city’s founder and first governor Colonel Light and are still treasured and protected by those who live in the city and inner suburbs.

AA bike linear park

Bike riding through the parklands

The ecology of the parklands like the commerce of the city has its own rules and hierarchy. magpies and miner birds aggressively mark out and defend their territories, brushtail possums enjoy the nightlife and screeching rainbow lorikeets seem to know everyone’s business.

AB Noisy Miner feeding on a banksia bloom

Noisy miner feeding on a banksia bloom

One of my favourite animals in this urban ecosystem is the elegant and colourful eastern rosella. They are found throughout the Adelaide and Mount Lofty region and seem to have a preference for open woodland where they can find suitable nesting holes, preferably in old growth trees. There has been a pair raising their young in a white cedar in front of my home this year and when I go for an evening walk I can hear the young ones deep in the tree calling to the adults.

AC Male and Female Adelaide Rosellas feeding

Male and female eastern rosellas feeding

Adelaide rosellas are around 35 cms in length with females being slightly smaller with a faintly orange cast to their plumage and less defined markings. They create a nest up to a metre deep within a tree hollow. Both parents feed the young. Rosellas are mainly seed eaters and feed mainly on the ground.

AD Adelaide Rosella on parkland fencepost feeding on wild grain heads

Eastern rosella on parkland fencepost feeding on wild grain heads

For me, one of the attractions of rosellas is their is its truly unique South Australian connection.  Indeed one particular type, the Adelaide rosella,  only occurs within a few dozen kilometres of the city. It is actually a hybrid of the yellow rosella which inhabits the Murray River valley and the crimson rosella which is more prevalent in the south east of the state.

AE Social interaction between Adelaide Rosellas above nesting hole

Social interaction between eastern rosellas above nesting hole

If you walk through the parklands during the spring and summer months it is not difficult to observe these colourful rosellas exhibiting a full range of behaviours from feeding to nesting and mating.

AF Adelaide Rosella perched on nesting hole entrance

Eastern rosella perched on nesting hole entrance

Cheers Baz

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