Tag Archives: South Australian birds

Rainbow Parrots……..1

2 Aug

As well as continuing to write posts describing South Australia’s best natural and urban destinations and their associated wildlife; I will be posting some shorter pieces focussing entirely on one species or idea.

Dear Reader:

I am sitting on the front porch watching the street’s wildlife. There are a few New Holland Honeyeaters hawking for insects and a small group of Crested Pigeons congregating on the newly mown nature strip. Always a good time to look for food. But it is the brightly coloured Rainbow Lorikeets in the Hackberry Tree opposite that really catch my attention as they balance on the thin branches to feed on the small, dark berries. 

Hackberries for dinner

These energetic little parrots do not feed quietly; they squawk and chatter to each other as they bounce, balance and flutter amongst the foliage in search of the ripest fruit. And, while these birds feed on the Hackberries another group are tucking into the last blooms of my flowering gums in the backyard.

Blossoms for desset

Rainbow Lorikeets (Trichoglossus haematodus) are smallish parrots with around 30 cms in length wih a wingspan around 40 cms. Their main foods are blossoms, nectar, seeds, fruit and sometimes insects. They have brush like tongues for collecting pollen and sharp beaks capable of biting into fruit and crushing seeds. Rainbow Lorikeets are often considered a nuisance by people who have fruit trees in their yards.

Cheers

Baz

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

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Houseboat Day 2 Lizards and Falcons

30 Jan

Dear Reader:

The cliffs rise steeply from the river’s surface. There are definite divisions in the strata indicating various periods in geological time. Tree roots, wind, water and the sun have weathered the rocky surface creating shallow caves, overhangs and depressions providing shelter for a variety of wildlife.

 

Typical limestone cliff scenery

We are travelling upstream from Morgan in our rented houseboat towards the little township of Cadell. Named after Francis Cadell, an early steamship navigator and explorer, the town sits in the Cadell Valley which is a Citrus and grape growing region. There is accommodation, a general store, second-hand shops, heritage centre and a ferry crossing.

 

Murray River Ferry at Cadell

The ochre coloured cliffs are home to numerous bird species but photographing them from a moving boat is challenging. I pick out what appears to be a family of raptors huddled in a narrow space near the cliff top and train the powerful lens of my Nikon P900 on the group. It is difficult to get a clear image. Nevertheless, I fire off half a dozen frames to work on later.

 

Fleeting glimpse of a raptor family on the cliff……shot from a moving boat at about 120 metres

Further down the river I notice some larger birds of prey. One is perched near a nest and the other sits on a eucalyptus branch overhanging the water. *They are either young White Breasted Sea Eagles or a juvenile kite species, possibly Whistling Kites.  

 

Eagle or Kite…..let me know please

The reeds and branches that line the edge of the river are home to a variety of waterbirds including: Black Ducks, Dusky Moorhens, Purple Swamp Hens, Pied Cormorants and Anhingas often called Snake birds. I focus on an Anhinga resting on a fallen branch.

 

Anhinga perching….note the webbed feet and spear-like beak

We moor the boat near a wide bend in the river and set up for an evening barbecue. I take a walk along the river bank and find a quiet place to sit and wait for the wildlife to appear; an approach that often pays dividends. I can hear the twittering of wrens and finches the rustling of other small animals in the undergrowth. Several small skinks appear on a log but they are too quick and timid for me to get a clear image. Moments later a Shingleback lizard emerges from leaf litter. Unaware of my presence the lizard comes quite close to me. When I lift the camera to get a shot it turns to face me, opens its mouth wide extending it bright blue tongue in a defensive display.

 

Shingleback or Sleepy lizard

Leaving the lizard to its meanderings in search of food and with a similar thought in mind I return to the boat for our evening barbecue. Full of steak, sausage and salad I go back through the days images and to my delight and surprise the raptors I photographed turn out to be Peregrine Falcons.

 

Peregrine Falcon at distance on the cliff face

Two days out and I have encountered quite a lot of wildlife. Who knows what the next day will bring.

Cheers

Baz

*If anyone can identify these birds please contact me and I will change the text accordingly

Additional notes

This is an easy boat trip which is quite suitable for families and seniors and only a current driving licence is required to operate a houseboat.

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

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Houseboat Adventures Morgan Day 1

2 Jan

Dear Reader:

The road is ‘dead set’ straight for kilometre after kilometre. Expanses of saltbush and mallee scrub border the highway. While driving I scan the bush for wildlife. Crows perch on branches, an occasional parrot flies in front of the vehicle and there is the inevitable road-kill. I ease my foot onto the brake and pull over. Hundreds of meters across the saltbush, on the woodland fringe, I can see a pair of emus. My Nikon P900 is an excellent tool for locating an image at this range but even the 83X zoom is challenged when it comes to getting a good clear shot.

 

Emus at distance

I am driving to Morgan, an historic town on the River Murray about 160 kms from Adelaide. Morgan was a busy river port during the 1800s with hundreds of paddle steamers delivering goods prior to the advent of railways and more recently motor vehicle transport. However, this colourful history has given rise to Morgan’s current attractions; heritage docks, museum, renovated paddle steamer, historic trails and two wonderful, old pubs.

 

Books and bric a brac

Sandra at the helm

 

I am meeting friends for a week-long houseboat trip exploring this stretch of the river. Each afternoon we will pull into the bank at a different location, stay there overnight then head off again in the morning. For my companions it is an ideal way to spend some down time away from their busy lives. For me, it means long walks to explore and photograph each location, editing images and writing up notes as well as capturing images from the boat as it cruises along.

 

Whale vertebrate fossils

 

Our boat docked

Before we leave Morgan I take a stroll along the river bank towards the old wharf. It seems like a good place to look for animals that thrive close to human habitation. I can see swallows hawking across the water and picking off insects in the air but they rarely settle and photographing them in flight takes a better photographer than me. However, I do manage to spot a beautiful Eastern Water Skink catching the late afternoon sun.

 

Wharf, cliffs and old paddle-steamer being restored

 

Eastern Water Skink

Pleased with my final image, I head back to the boat for dinner and a pleasant evening socialising with friends before we set off up-stream in the morning to another location and a fresh adventure.

Cheers

Baz

Additional notes

Only a driving license is required to operate a houseboat. We used Foxtail Houseboats and were more than pleased with their level of service.

Please pass on this blog title/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

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Coronavirus Lockdown Day 2…..Feeding the Kids

21 Nov

Coronavirus Lockdown Day 2…..Feeding the Kids

Dear Reader:

Even though it is the end of spring a number of bird species are still feeding their newly hatched offspring. Blackbirds, Honeyeaters. and Wattlebirds and Rainbow Lorikeets have all raised young in and around my garden. And, it has been a real treat to watch a range of different behaviours.

 

Got one

Got lots

Blackbirds are a non-native species but I must admit to enjoying their beautiful range of songs. When their young are hatched both males and females feed them. However, it is the males that I have observed collecting worms, grubs and spiders from the garden especially when the ground is wet after the watering system has come on during the early morning. Males are easy to distinguish as they have black plumage with a yellow ring around the eye. Females are brown with no distinctive eye marking.

 

Please

 

 

OK

Red Wattlebirds are the largest of the honeyeaters and they are aggressively territorial. Like most species wattlebirds continue to feed their young after leaving the nest until the they can fly and fend for themselves. During this time they are extremely vulnerable and many fall prey to cats, foxes and birds of prey.

I hope you have enjoyed these to Lock Down posts and continue to follow my blog and enjoy virtual visits to many of SA’s wonderful wildlife destinations.  

Cheers

Baz

If you follow my blog then I apologise for the delay as it took a while to get the best shots. In the meantime, our restrictions have been shortened. As a consequence, this will be my last Coronavirus Lockdown blog and I will return to my usual one or two blogs per month.

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/

Thompson Beach Safari

5 Aug

Thompson Beach Safari

 Dear Reader:

I leave the Port Wakefield Road at the Dublin Hotel and head towards the little coastal settlement of Thompson Beach travelling along a well graded unsealed road. Although the International Bird Sanctuary is my final destination, the rural track which passes through wheat-fields, grazing land with remnant scrub and trees on its edges, provides numerous wildlife viewing opportunities. There are parrots, magpies and many smaller bird species in the trees. In the distance, I catch a glimpse of several different kinds of raptors hovering above the plains. I suspect they are Nankeen Kestrels and Black-Shouldered Kites.

 

Enjoyable contrasting colours and textures on the drive in

 

I liked the look of magpies against the grey sky

I am exploring the International Bird Sanctuary at Thompson Beach, a small township around a forty-five-minute drive north of Adelaide. Established in the 1980’s and named after a family who farmed the area in the late 1800s, it is a well-known fishing, crabbing and bird watching destination on the Samphire Coast. Samphire is a low growing coastal plant that is often found in close proximity to mangroves and shallow, saltwater wetlands.

 

Parked on the beach front

 

On reaching the coast I notice a sign that indicates two different walking and sanctuary zones. I will explore both but start with the Baker Creek area to the north. After parking the 4WD at the end of the trail I walk along the beach front and explore the intertidal zone. There are many different shells including; cockles, predatory snails and even cowries. Diminutive Sanderlings are feeding among the drifts of seaweed and further out to sea I can see both egrets and herons wading in the shallows. Small fish are schooling in the mouth of the creek and I find numerous kangaroo droppings in the scrub adjacent to the beach.

 

Sanderling feeding

 

Random collection of shells

The coastal vegetation is almost as interesting as the wildlife. There are some fascinating ground covers close to the beach. I find a late-season Painted Lady butterfly settled amongst an unusual succulent ground cover that I am yet to identify. In a nearby acacia bush, a Singing Honeyeater perches high in the foliage as the bird surveys its territory.

 

Painted Lady on succulent

 

Singing Honeyeater

I have spent a good hour enjoying the Bakers Creek part of the sanctuary and it is time to backtrack and walk along the more developed Third Creek Trail. It has more defined trails with numerous interpretive signs explaining the characteristics of both botanical and animal species.

 

Well interpreted walks

 

Black Kite

 My first animal encounter on this trail is a beautiful Black Kite walking along the beach foraging in the seaweed. As I approach, the bird takes flight and hovers above the beach for a while then moves across the scrub to hunt in a different environment. For the next half an hour the kite alternates between scrub, beach and sea gliding, hovering and occasionally diving as it hunts for prey.

 

Wasp species

It has been an interesting walk and although the wildlife has not been prolific it has certainly been unique and capturing images both challenging and rewarding. Before heading back to the city, by way of the local hotel for a counter lunch, I make one last foray into the scrub. I am determined to get at least one picture of an insect or spider to add a little variation to my story. After a few minutes carefully scanning the foliage, I am rewarded, A small wasp is foraging amongst the leaves of a coastal acacia shrub. Seems that lunch is on the mind of all creatures, great or small.

 Cheers

Baz

Additional notes

This is an easy walk and drive which is quite suitable for families and seniors.

On this excursion I used my Nikon Coolpix P900 exclusively as it allowed me to smoothly transition from extreme zoom to macro quickly

 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.

 See more of my South Australian stories and pictures in Weekend Notes

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Coronablog 3 Watching the bird baths or how to pass the time in Corona Virus Isolation…Day 10

23 Apr

Coronablog 3 Bird Baths

 

Dear Reader:

I am not a huge fan of feral Pigeons or Rock Doves as they are more correctly named. However, as I am writing this piece there is a pair sitting quietly together in the bird bath just a few meters from my desk. They make rather a nice picture despite having to shoot through the windows which upon reflection could do with a clean. My excuse for the somewhat soft nature of the image.

 

Pigeon pair

 

We all have certain manufactured features in our homes and gardens that attract animals. It might be a vent in the wall that is home to a spider, a shed where geckos thrive or a wood pile that is home to ‘who knows what’. My focus today are the three bird-baths that sit amongst the shrubs in both my front and back gardens.

 

In I go

 

Shaking my feathery butt

It is late afternoon and the terracotta bird bath in the back garden is cloaked in shadow making photographs difficult. Even though the Nikon P900 that I use adapts well to the situation I must brace myself and make every effort to keep the camera still. A Blackbird lands on the lip of the bowl and steps gingerly in before taking a quick dip. A few moments later a New Holland Honeyeater follows suit.

 

I’ll just sit in the seed

 

As mentioned, there is also a birdbath in the front garden and that appears to attract a different set of customers. Both Spotted Doves and House Sparrows like to feed on the seeds I leave in a bowl that sits in the centre of the dish. And, I have spotted several White-plumed Honeyeaters drinking which is a treat as they rarely come into the yards.

 

In these long days of isolation, it is a pleasant distraction to sit quietly on the porch reading the paper with a cuppa and a camera watching the local bird life feeding, bathing, drinking and squabbling at my bird baths .

 

Cheers

Baz

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.

 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

Backyard Safari With My New Tamron Lens

5 Mar

Dear Reader:

There is little doubt that the South Australia has some fascinating and inspiring countryside from the rugged coastline of the south east to the wild expanses of outback in the north. However, it is often what is right under our noses that can prove most interesting. With that in mind I decided to try out my new Tamron 18-400 lens in the back yard.

 

Wattle Bird enjoys the trellis

 

Backyard

 

 

Spotted Doves are quite common in our suburb and each morning I spread out a handfuls of seed to encourage them. It is wonderful to watch their antics especially around mating time with the males bobbing and cooing to get the females’ attention. Over the years they have built their simple twig nests in our gum tree and raised several broods of young.

 

Spotted Doves

 

The Tamron lens is reputed to have quite good macro capabilities and with that in mind I spent some time fossicking for insects in the foliage and flowers of Daisy and Correa bushes. There were crickets, ladybugs and hoverflies in some numbers and I settled on an image of a hoverfly that had landed on a blossom to feed.

 

Hoverfly

 

Even though cats are generally a menace to wildlife I have a soft spot for them if controlled in urban areas. I have two and the Abyssinian is well past being a menace to anything as he is 16 years old an it is quite amusing to see the proverbial ‘cat amongst the pigeons/doves’.

 

Too old to worry about

 

Each day I leave an apple and two orange halves spiked to my trellis which attract a wide variety of birds from noisy Rainbow Lorikeets to delicate New Holland Honeyeaters. It is a pleasant enough task to sit quietly in the garden and photograph them feeding and squabbling over my offerings.

 

Apples for Lorikeet lunch

 

Even the humble lawn has its role once I have spread a little seed about for the Doves, Pigeons and occasional Mudlarks. And, after the sprinklers come on in the summer or there is good rain, the local Blackbirds forage for worms.

 

Just a glimpse

 

There a very few mammals in our suburb bar cats and dogs. We are too far from the hills for Koalas and possums are rare. But one late afternoon as I was sitting reading the paper (camera as always on the table) I watched a little Fruit Rat bound across the path. Not the most welcome of guests but for me it is always a treat to see something new in the garden.

 

Cheers

Baz

 

See more South Australian stories and pictures in Weekend Notes

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Flinders Ranges’ Brachina Gorge

1 Feb

Dear Reader:

There is a pair of kangaroos resting out on the low grassy plain. As we approach they sit up and watch us warily. I slow the 4WD down and pull up on the side of the track carefully lowering the window. The animals are a good hundred and fifty metres away which stretches my Panasonic FZ60 to its limits. I slide a bean bag under the camera and take a few shots. With the benefit of the telephoto I can tell that they are both Red Kangaroos; a grey shaded female and the rusty coloured male.

 

Red Kangaroos

 

I am driving into Brachina Gorge which slices through the Flinders Ranges between the Flinders and Outback highways just north of Wilpena Pound; a good day’s drive from Adelaide. Today I am focussing on wildlife but this incredible gorge is also a geological wonder with layers of rocks and fossils dating back hundreds of millions of years. A well defined trail explains their formation and significance and tours are available through this remarkable area (Google Brachina Gorge Tours).

 

Ancient rock strata

 

Once we reach the Gorge proper it is time to get out and do a little exploring on foot. My first encounter is a Shingleback or Sleepy Lizard that is well entrenched in a pile of rocks. A cache of snails and bits of plant matter suggest that this has been home for a while though in general they are transient reptiles until it is time to hibernate.

Sleepy or Shingleback Lizard

 

If there is one iconic species in the Flinders it is the beautiful Yellow Footed Rock Wallaby and a little further along the gorge near a pool of water and a rock fall seems like a good place to sit quietly and wait. I am rewarded for patience about twenty minutes later when two of the delicate little creatures hop down the slope towards the water.

 

Yellow Footed Rock Wallaby grazing

 

As well as amazing geological features and great wildlife the gorge has an abundance of interesting plants and in near the watercourse amongst some shale-like rocks I find a spreading clump of Sturt Desert Pea; the state’s floral emblem.

 

Sturt desert Pea

 

So far Brachina has yielded wallabies, roos and flowering plants as well as innumerable other wildlife that I have not even mentioned from cockatoos to spiders and even some undesirable feral goats. But, it is a rather beautiful Mulga Parrot feeding on a small ground covering plant that really marks the end of my trip through Brachina Gorge.

 

Bourke’s Parrot feeding

 

When I reach the Outback Highway Wildlife slips from my mind and I turn north towards Parachilna and the famous Prairie Hotel and a rather special lunch that I will leave you the reader to discover when you come up to our wonderful Flinders Ranges.

Cheers

Baz

Barossa’s Whispering Wall

1 Nov

. Barossa’s Whispering Wall

 Dear Reader:

At the end of the long curved concrete wall there is a little patch of broken reeds and other water plants that form a kind of mat on the surface; an ideal place for a variety of aquatic animals. Public access to this area is prohibited so I have to scan the mish-mash of vegetation with my long lens. To my surprise, there are both male and female Blue Wrens feeding on the numerous insects living around the plant material.

 

Male Blue Wren

 

Female Blue Wren

 

I am at the Whispering Wall which is the main dam containing the Barossa Valley reservoir. Built in 1903 it was considered quite an engineering feat at the time. The wall of the dam is named for its acoustic properties and you can stand at one end and be heard at the other even when speaking quietly. Most of the property around the dam is fenced-off but by simply waking around the grassed areas and across the dam it is possible to encounter quite a wide range of wildlife.

 

Curve of the dam wall

 

 

 

“I’m whispering.”

 

“Yep, I heard you.”

 

In another patch of reeds I catch sight of freshwater turtle peering through the broken stems and there are numerous small fish or tadpoles in the more open patches of water. Walking back across the dam I see a small group of Eurasian Coots feeding. And in the distance a lone Greater Crested Grebe is making its way across the reservoir; a bird that I have never seen in the wild. I take a long shot with the camera but the result is hardly award-winning.

 

Freshwater turtle probably a Macquarie Sort Neck

Eurasian Coot

Long distance shot of a Great Crested Grebe

 

Back at the car park I take a stroll around the grassy lawns which are dominated by massive red gums. Both Galahs and Sulphur Crested Cockatoos are perched high in the branches while smaller Lorikeet species are feeding on blossoms and gum nuts. Along the edge of this area several cormorants are resting in the trees; silhouetted by the dazzling blue of the sky.

 

 

My walk has been short but rewarding and a stop at the Williamstown Bakery on the way back will almost certainly make this a memorable day out.  

 Cheers

Baz

Additional notes

This is an easy walk and drive which is quite suitable for families and seniors with public toilets, picnic area and parking on site. It is dog friendly

See more South Australian stories on 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 text describing some of my encounters with the wonderful wildlife of Botswana and Zambia. I will attach a new image and notes to accompany each post.

https://wildlifemomentssa.blogspot.com

Sandra’s Back Garden

24 Oct

Sandra’s Back Garden

 Dear Reader:

Sometimes it is both a challenge and simply fun to take out a camera and explore the wildlife of a familiar patch of land…..and gardens are one of the best places to do this. A surprising amount of wildlife resides in our own gardens.  A close look might reveal anything from fascinating insects that live in our flower beds to nocturnal geckos sheltering in a shed.

Marbled Gecko…a nocturnal inhabitant

 

Probably a Katydid, a relative of crickets and locusts

 

Sandra lives in the hills face suburb of Tea Tree Gully and a variety of birds and other animals regularly visit her garden. Some, like possums and foxes, are nocturnal and only leave traces of their comings and goings. Others, like magpies and butterflies are around in the daylight hours making the far easier targets for a photographer.

 

Tabbi breakfast

 

Each morning after breakfast Sandra throws the remains of her Weetbix onto the back lawn. This daily offering is greatly appreciated by two of the local cats as well as a small group of Noisy Miners.

 

Young Noisy Miner

 

Later in the day an apple and an orange are ritually sacrificed on two nails driven into an old tree stump; Blackbirds, New Holland Honeyeaters and the occasional Rainbow Lorikeet enjoy these treats.

 

Blackbird takes a look around……..

                                                                 

 

 

 

 

….gets the apple

That about covers the back garden’s feeding program. None of the food is in sufficient quantities to interrupt the animals’ natural feeding cycles or harmful to their diet. However, it does make sitting under the back veranda with a cup of tea rather an interesting experience.

In another post I will explore the equally charming world of the front garden.

 Cheers

Baz

 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 text 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.

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