Tag Archives: South Australian wildlife

Houseboat Day 5…..At Caudo Winery

2 Jul

Dear Reader:

The gum tree alongside the boat is massive. Its branches extend well over the bank and river. These River Gums are a sanctuary for many species that live along the Murray providing homes for myriad invertebrates, birds, reptiles and even mammals such as bats and possums. At the moment, I can see a Yellow Rosella perched high in the canopy. A long shot but certainly gettable with my Nikon P900.

Yellow Rosella

We have tied up the houseboat at Caudo Winery after a lovely cruise along the river which was quite productive when it came to wildlife; as I mentioned in my last post. The winery is a perfect pause for lunch and wine tasting on a river trip from Morgan, and the staff are both helpful and knowledgeable.

Houseboat and winery outdoor area

After a sip of a local white, I am ostensibly a non-drinker but love a little taste to simply enjoy the flavours, I decided to take an exploratory wander around the grounds. Another Red Gum, even larger than the first, towers over an open paddock on the property’s edge. Peering through the long lens I can make out a Corella nesting in a dead branch. While I am watching the Corella’s mate flies in and they exchange places.

Short-beaked Corella in nesting hole

Turning my attention from the larger animals I start to hunt around under the half-shed bark and understory by the base of the gum trees; always a good place to find insects, spiders and reptiles. I am not disappointed, discovering some beetles and small coppery skink that I have yet to identify.

Pie Dish Beetle species
Unknown skink species

My stroll is brought to a pleasant end when a couple the houseboat crew send me a quick text about pizzas hot from the oven being served in the next few minutes. Pizzas, fine wines, good company a bit of wildlife….a pretty good afternoon on the Murray River.

Cheers

Baz

This is an easy trip which is quite suitable for families and seniors with all facilities on board, only a driver’s license required to drive and boat training provided by the company prior to departure.

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 3 Hogwash Bend

31 Mar

Dear Reader:

As we slow the boat and glide slowly towards the riverbank, I spot a pair of Ospreys perched high in the canopy of a massive Red Gum overhanging the river. One takes flight and circles some forty metres above us. I slip the Nikon P900 into sports mode opting for fast shutter speeds over depth of field and fire off a half dozen frames. Hopefully, something will turn out right.

Osprey in flight

It is a glorious blue-sky day. I can think of no place better to be than on the river with good friends and time to do what we please and go where the mood takes us. This morning we are tying up in the Hogwash Bend Conservation Park about 8 Kms east of Cadell.

Houseboat moored

The eagles leave and their air space is replaced by two Australian Pelicans that seem to be utilising a thermal rising off the land. They ride the updraft then slowly descend and land on the water a short distance from our moored craft. Boats often equate to fishing and small discarded carp that are pelican bite size. These glorious birds, with wingspans well over 2 metres, are common companions on the river.

Pelican near houseboat

Having spent a few minutes photographing the pelicans I turn my attention to the park. This is a part of the river where there are a variety of habitats from small billabongs and creeks to cliffs and flat grassy areas. I search a rockface exposed by erosion and find numerous fossils encased in the rough limestone matrix.

Gastropod fossils
Classic Murray scenery

Near the low cliffs there is a wide expanse of low bushes and grasses; ideal habitat for kangaroos. I have noticed a lot of kangaroo droppings on this trip though I have only caught a few fleeting glimpses of the animals themselves. I find a likely spot where I can watch the widest sweep of the terrain, a sit and wait strategy. Luck is on my side. Some ten minutes into my vigil I hear the bushes rustling off to my right and notice a roo feeding. My line of sight is obscured and I change position slightly. The kangaroo’s sensitive ears twitch and it turns towards me. A few seconds to shoot and the nervous animal bounds off.

Western Grey

I have been exploring the park for a couple of hours and it is time to return to the boat for lunch before we change location. For me, it is a chance to scan the shoreline as we cruise along. There are herons and egrets hunting in the shallows. Both Anhingas (snake birds) and cormorants perch on half submerged tree roots and dry their wings after hunting underwater. Occasionally, another craft passes by and we smile and wave sharing a moment that is unique to those who enjoy cruising along this mighty waterway.

Anhinga drying wings

Passing by
Tells a story

I hope these paragraphs and images inspire or a least suggest to you ‘Dear Reader’ that a houseboat adventure might be a reasonable proposition for your next holiday.

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

Secretive South Aussies

1 Mar

Dear Reader:

The diminutive birds look like mottled balls of feathers darting through the undergrowth. It is time to just sit and wait until one settles long enough to let me focus and fire. A keeper arrives and spreads some mealworms across the floor of the enclosure. Temerity is temporarily discarded and the Stubble Quail come out of hiding to feed. The Birds still move quickly as they peck at the mealworms and I must switch the camera to shutter priority which I have permanently set at 1/2000 of a second on my P900.

 

Stubble Quail feeding

Virtually all the photographs for my posts and the books I write are taken ‘in the field’ at the location I am exploring. However, sometimes there are animals that I see, hear or find traces of, but cannot photograph. For some of these species, wildlife parks, museums and zoos are an invaluable resource. Today, I am collecting images from Cleland Wildlife Park in the Adelaide Hills near Crafers and Mount Lofty; about a twenty minute drive from Adelaide’s CBD.

 

Inland Taipan

Near the exit and shop there is a building that houses nocturnal animals and a range of reptiles. Having gained permission to use limited flash photography, it can stress and annoy certain animals, I decide to target venomous snakes. When shooting through glass enclosures it is necessary to angle the flash to prevent the light from bouncing straight back into the lens. Luckily several of the snakes are active in their enclosures.

 

Eastern Brown Snake forked tongue protruding

In several decades of photographing wildlife I have seen very few venomous snakes and those I have encountered have been shy and almost impossible to photograph in any detail. Limiting my attempts because of the flash stress factor, I manage to get a couple of reasonable images of an Inland Taipan and an Eastern Brown Snake with its forked tongue protruding. The forked tongue that all snakes and monitor lizards possess, allows the reptiles to pick up tiny particles emitted by prey and determine direction and distance using a special feature known as the Jacobsen’s organ. The process is much the same as our two ears being set apart determining the direction of a sound based on the intensity and volume being different for each ear. By the way; snakes do not have ears but can feel vibrations through the ground.

 

Princess Parrot

South Australia has many beautiful bird species and it is often difficult to get near some of them in the wild. In addition, some species like Princess Parrots are quite rare or live in extremely remote areas. With this in mind, I stroll through one of the ‘walk-through’ aviaries in search of birds I have not previously encountered or photographed.

 

Ringtail Possum

Most South Australians know and recognise the common Brushtail Possums that frequent urban backyards and sometimes, to the dismay of residents, their roofs. It is the slightly smaller and endearing Ringtail Possum that is less often seen. To this end, I have arranged with an education officer to photograph the ringtail they use in lessons about our native marsupials. She carries the little marsupial out in a hessian sack and places it on a tree branch. I wait for the most natural pose and capture a couple of images.

With possum and possum image safely ‘in the bag’ it is time for lunch and a little retail therapy at the café and souvenir shop. The food is good and I am pleased to say that I find a copy of my last book ‘Discovering Adelaide’s Wildlife’, on the shelf. I never tire of Cleland and will return again in the cooler weather to add to my  ‘hard to get’ wildlife, photographic collection.  

Cheers

Baz

Additional notes

These images were taken using a Nikon Coolpix P900 camera

This is an easy excursion which is quite suitable for families and seniors with public toilets, parking, restaurant and other facilities on site.

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

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

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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Hannaford Hump Drive

2 Dec

Dear Reader:

I leave the bitumen and continue along a well graded, unsealed road. A landscape of rural pasture and scrub borders the dirt road overhung by tall eucalypts. I stop on the verge and scan the trees with my long lens. While I search for wildlife visually, I hear the faint thumping call of a Common Bronzewing. It takes a few minutes to locate the bird but I eventually find it perched on a branch just in camera range.

 

Common Bronzewing

I am taking a late afternoon drive along the quirkily named Hannaford Hump Road which branches off One Tree Hill Road north east of the roundabout junction with Golden Grove Road in the suburb of Greenwith. Hannaford Hump then becomes Airstrip Road which leads to the sealed Mt Gawler Road. Both Hannaford Hump and Airstrip Roads are surrounded by large areas of accessible scrub and rural countryside dotted with small properties and farms.

 

Roadside bush

A little further along Hannaford Hump Road I park the car and walk along one of several fire tracks that lead into the Mount Crawford Forest Reserve. The well maintained track is skirted by dense scrub dominated by low growing gums, acacias and a variety of native bushes, grasses and ground covers….a botanist’s dream.

 

Fire track entrance

Flax-Leafed Logania

I walk a kilometre along the track stopping frequently to listen for bird calls. In this bushland setting it is best to let the wildlife come to you as animals are wary of anything that appears to be stalking them. I catch sight of numerous wrens, finches and other small birds darting between bushes but photographing them is nigh on impossible. Eventually a pair of Adelaide Rosellas perch on a dead branch at extreme camera range and I take the shot steadying the camera against a tree trunk. The vibration reduction in my Nikon P900 works well and I get a passable result considering the distance and fading light. 

 

Adelaide Rosellas

Further along the road I stop at another fire track. This one is flanked by even denser bush and some taller shrubs and gums as well as a smattering of grass trees. I find a narrow opening in the scrub and walk in about twenty metres then sit quietly. Small birds are flitting between branches but they are hard to line up. Eventually one settles close enough to get a clear shot. Later I determine it to be a thornbill species; probably a Red Striated Thornbill.

 

Striated Red Thornbill…probably

Evening is closing in and the light is making photography more challenging so I turn for home and watch the other, more rural side of the road as I drive. Unexpectedly, I notice some kangaroos feeding in the long grass. When I stop to take a shot I catch sight of a crow perched on a branch; perfectly silhouetted against the wheat coloured background.

 

Australian Raven

Western Grey Kangaroos in grassland

Small group (mob) of Western Grey Kangaroos feeding at dusk

It has been a really wonderful drive along this unusually named road so close to the suburbs yet rarely explored by the nearby residents. In fact there are many trails, tracks and roads throughout this part of the foothills that are worth exploring when you have a few hours to spare.

Cheers

Baz

Additional notes

This is an easy drive and simple walks, which are quite suitable for families and seniors.

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/

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

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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.   

Cheers

Baz

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

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Kangaroo

7 Oct

Kangaroo 

Dear Reader:

This post differs from my usual offerings which tell stories with images about a specific area in South Australia and the wildlife I encountered. This time I am focussing on one group of animals and providing some information about each image and what it tells us about our most iconic group of animals….the Kangaroos.

A mob of Western Grey Kangaroos in Belair National Park

 

Red Kangaroo joey being fed on special formula at Adelaide Zoo

The name kangaroo comes from the *Guugu Yimithirr word for Grey Kangaroo and was first reported by Cook in 1770. Kangaroos are confined to Australasia. There are six different species of kangaroo; Antilopine Kangaroo, Black Wallaroo, Eastern Grey Kangaroo, Western Grey Kangaroo, Red Kangaroo and the Common Wallaroo or Euro. The latter three are abundant in South Australia.

Young Grey Kangaroo males boxing

Adult male Red Kangaroo portrait……Cleland Wildlife Park

 

Red Kangaroos are the largest of all the ‘Macropods’; a term that refers to all kangaroos and wallabies and means big footed. A large male can stands taller than a man and weigh up to 85 Kg. Females are smaller, blue, grey in colour and do not have such distinct facial markings. The above image was taken at the Cleland Conservation Park which specialises in indigenous wildlife.

Adult female Red Kangaroo and joey at heel in flight

 

Western Grey Kangaroos moving off slowly

One of the most interesting features of kangaroos is their bounding or hopping gait. As a kangaroo hops the tendons in its legs compress and elongate like springs storing and releasing energy more efficiently than the muscle movements that most mammals use. These remarkable marsupials also use their tails to balance at speed or as a third limb to help them move slowly.

Adult female Western Grey Kangaroo with joey in pouch

 

Reproduction in kangaroos is also remarkable. Like all marsupials, the young, called joeys, are born in an extremely immature state. They move from the birth canal to suckle in the pouch where they develop in the same way other mammals would develop inside their mother. Female kangaroos can be pregnant, have a tiny joey suckling while another one is ‘at heel’ clambering into the pouch to feed when necessary.

Feeding an adult male Red Kangaroo at Cleland Wildlife Park

 

 In the wild, kangaroos are wary animals. Their ears are multi-directional and they have a good sense of smell and sight. In addition, their speed, up to 60 kph, and jumping ability allows them to successfully evade most threats. However, in captivity they are relatively docile creatures which makes them ideal animals in wildlife parks. For a photographer this means it is relatively easy to get good portrait shots and photograph some of their more subtle characteristics such as: split grooming claws, facial patterns, dentition and even mating behaviours.

Western Grey Kangaroos in coastal environment

 

Euro…Flinders Ranges

Kangaroos are found throughout the South Australian landscape. The more robust Euros like the hill country of the Flinders Ranges where their thick fur protects them from falls and extremes in temperature. Red kangaroos prefer the more arid zones and extract moisture from plants and can survive over multiple dry seasons without drinking. Grey Kangaroos are ubiquitous and seem to inhabit the widest range of habitats from coastal heath to dense scrub.

Adult male Red Kangaroo near Whyalla, Eyre Peninsula

 

Over the millions of years and isolated from the rest of the world by continental drift Australia’s macropods have evolved perfectly to suit our harsh and rather unforgiving environment. Therefore, the next time you catch sight of a ‘roo’ take some time to ponder what a wonderful and unique animal it really is.

 

Cheers

Baz

 Additional notes

The majority of these images were captured using Canon EOS equipment and lenses.

*Guugu Yimithirr is the language of the indigenous people encountered by Cook while his ship was grounded and being repaired on the banks of the now Endeavour River after running aground on the Barrier Reef

 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/

 

Winninowie National Park and Chinaman’s Creek

3 Sep

Winninowie National Park and Chinaman’s Creek

Dear Reader:

The track to Winninowie National Park comes off the main highway between Port Germein and Port Augusta. Low flat scrub borders the road on both sides with the coast in front and the Flinders Ranges foothills behind. Barbed wire fencing keeps small groups of sheep from wandering onto the road. Crested Pigeons, Galahs and some smaller unidentifiable bird species can be seen in the scraggly bushes bordering the pasture. In the distance I can just pick out a tree-line marking the edge of the national park: from there the road meanders towards the coast.

Typical coastal scrub

 A few hundred metres past the first stands of eucalypts we come across a smaller track veering to the left. The track has a sign that warns against use in wet weather but there has been a little rain over the last few days and today is fine and clear. We slip the vehicle into 4WD low range as a precaution and with a little slippage and much lurching, explore the trail.

Grey Butcherbird 

I tap Geoff on the shoulder and ask him to stop and power down his window. Only metres from the car, a Grey Butcherbird is perched on a dead tree branch. These fascinating birds have the rather unsavoury habit of impaling their prey on sharp branches where they are stored for later consumption. A kind of avian serial killer complete with trophies.

Euro in scrub

Our next encounter is on my side of the car. I notice a flash of grey in the undergrowth. Geoff sees it too and we slide to a halt. I am expecting to see a Western Grey Kangaroo and I am pleasantly surprised to spot a Wallaroo or Euro. These robust cousin of the more common Western Grey Kangaroo are more commonly found in the higher regions of the Flinders Ranges which form a backdrop to the coastal plain we are traversing.

Crested Pigeons 

Of course, the usual wildlife is abundant here; Australian Magpies, Crested Pigeons, a variety of parrots and even some Miner Birds. There are also Emus which occasionally sprint across the trail making photographing them almost impossible. Eventually I spot a small group way out in the scrub grazing under some trees. My Nikon P900 has excellent range and I tend to use it as a spotting scope at extreme distances. I decide to take a chance; stop the car rest and squeeze. Considering the range and lighting conditions I am pleasantly surprised by the result.

Emu at distance  

The track ends at a wide expanse of shallow beach coated in seaweed with a wonderful view across Gulf St Vincent to the low hills of the Eyre Peninsula. We return along the same path and then head down to Chinaman’s Creek; a little outpost set amongst mangroves with a few shacks and a boat ramp, an area I have written about previously.

Chinaman’s Creek 

After fossicking about in the mangroves it is time to head for home and lunch at Port Germein; a good half an hour’s driving time. We decide not to stop on the return drive unless something extraordinary makes an appearance and as a parting gift, that does happen. A loan Western Grey Kangaroo bolts in front of the car and presents the perfect picture with the foothills of the Flinders in the distance. Then one final encore as lovely Red Capped Robin sits in a thorn bush near the road………a nice way to end a perfect afternoon. 

Roo in flight

Red-capped Robin

Cheers

Baz

 Additional notes

This is an easy drive in dry weather which is quite suitable for families and seniors but requires 4wd in the wet. The National Park bans Dogs. 

 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/

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