Tag Archives: water birds

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/

 

Port Elliot to Goolwa…A Wildlife Drive

20 Jul

Scrub and dunes between Coorong National Park and Goolwa Beach

Dear Reader:

A lone Silver Gull is perched on the parking sign next to the Flying Fish Café on Port Elliot’s picturesque Horseshoe Bay. Two hours should be more than enough for a fish and chips lunch while watching a few brave souls taking a dip in the chilly winter waters.

Parking restrictions…seagulls only

Across the bay, a fisherman is unfolding a chair and setting his lines for a leisurely afternoon’s angling. Perhaps he will catch a squid or some Flathead as we enjoy the same species on a plate and without the effort.

Horsehoe Bay’s old Jetty

I am taking a drive along the southernmost part of the SA’s lovely Fleurieu Peninsular between the towns of Port Elliot and Goolwa. This area is well known for fishing, surfing and whale watching in the winter months when Southern Right Whale migrate through these waters from the Southern Ocean.

Goolwa Beach and photographer

My next stop is Goolwa Beach, a long sandy stretch of several kilometres ending at the mouth of the Murray River. If the tides are right, I will be able to take my SUV onto the beach between sand hills and surf; a really rewarding experience. I am in luck and able to drive some distance towards the mouth. There are a few tiny waders dodging the surf while feeding on worms and other invertebrates beneath the wet sand but they quickly fly away as I get close enough for a shot. A pair of Pacific Gulls are more accommodating and I get a good series of images using full extension of the Nikon P900 zoom.

Fun in the surf…Pacific Gull style

About a kilometre along the beach there is a sign indicating a track that crosses the dunes ending up at the Coorong National Park near the Goolwa barrages which separate seawater from freshwater. This area is my next destination and I must drive back along the beach and skirt the town to reach the park.

Beach crossing to the barrages

The part of the Coorong National Park I am exploring is just past the barrages and consists of shallow mud flats, reed beds and small islets; an ideal collection of habitats for a wide range of aquatic birds. There are Black Swans in the distance, an unusual Musk Duck a couple of hundred metres offshore and a White-faced Heron hunting in the grasses and pools next to the road. Meanwhile, Singing Honeyeaters warble in the scrub between the park and the ocean beach which we were driving along just fifteen minutes earlier. However, the most exciting birds in the area are a couple of quite different raptor species which are swooping and hovering close to the shoreline. The larger bird is a Whistling Kite and the smaller, a female Nankeen Kestrel.

Singing Honeyeater not singing

Whistling Kite

Lunch and a couple of lucrative wildlife drives have made the day a success. However, the coastal town of Goolwa has many other attractions and I spend a further relaxing hour pottering around galleries and other small shops. To finish the day, I buy a bun and coffee at the Original  Goolwa Bakery on Dawson Street (established in 1912) before heading home via Strathalbyn and Mount Barker; two more SA towns with much to offer an enthusiastic nature photographer.

Goolwa’s Artworx Gallery

Cheers

Baz

Additional notes

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

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 2022 Mildura to Trentham Winery….part 1

4 Jun

Houseboat sunset

For any regular followers:

(I am stepping outside my usual SA destinations posts to recount part of my latest houseboat adventure from Mildura. The town is on the Murray River just over the border from the SA Riverland towns of Renmark, Berri and Barmera). The terrain and wildlife are much the same as the Riverland

Dear Reader:

It has been a long drive from Adelaide to Mildura and with the unpacking finished and the boat moved to its new mooring on the Mildura Quay it is time to enjoy a glass of wine, sit back on a comfy couch and admire a glorious river sunset.

Pond by the quay

Purple Swap Hen

Coffee time

The next morning is all business. Sandra checks the maps, two couples take a quick walk up to the local shops to purchase a few extras and Pete stows the fishing gear and coolers on the rear deck. The weather is fine so I wander over to the recreation area opposite which has a lovely pond used to rear protected, native fish species. The pond is a perfect place to take some close-up shots of the aquatic birds I will encounter along the river. In addition, the little coffee shop alongside the pond is ideal for an early morning ‘cuppa’ and a calorie laden treat for breakfast.

Swallows on outboard by Peter Zab using iPhone

Back on the houseboat we’re waiting for everyone to come aboard. I watch the swallows hawking for insects alongside the boat. They are incredibly fast and acrobatic and never seem to slow down. Pete notices a pair resting on the small outboard motor of our attached dinghy and zeroes in on them with his iPhone.

Sandra at the helm

Ropes are untied, Sandra opens the throttles and blasts the reversing horn…we are off; cruising around 7km/hr. I climb the stairs to the top deck and take up a position near the front, ready to brace my camera against a fibreglass side panel. From this position I am able to sight a target coming towards me from the riverbanks on either side of the boat. It is tricky photography and stretches the Nikon P900’s capabilities to the limit.

View of Whistling Kite from the boat

Whistling Kite through the telephoto

Our destination is Trentham winery about 10 kms away by river. The scenery along the way is classic Murray River scrub with Mallee trees, a few errant Willows and billabongs dotted with massive dead River Gums protruding like bony, grey fingers. At the top of one fading gum, I spot a Whistling Kite and further along the river there is an Australian Pelican perched on an old tree stump. My final shot for the morning, as the winery is just around the bend, an Anhinga or Snake-bird drying its wings after hunting in the river………….to be continued…. 

Anhinga drying wings

Australian Pelican and rosella

Please comment on this story if you find Houseboat posts interesting.

Cheers

Baz

Additional notes

This is an easy holiday which is quite suitable for families and active seniors as tying up the boat requires some mobility and strength. Only a driver’s license is required to operate a houseboat and instruction is given prior to use.

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/

For more information about Trentham Winery go to:

https://www.visitvictoria.com/regions/The-Murray/eat-and-drink/Wineries/Trentham-Estate-Winery

Hindmarsh Island ……Part 2

13 Apr

…….Continued from my last post about Hindmarsh Island……

White-faced Heron stalking

Dear Reader:

Having explored the little settlement by the channel I decide to drive a little further on this side island before cutting inland and heading to the Murray Mouth. A fortunate decision, as I spot a Royal Spoonbill working the shallows near a patch of reeds, a Black Swan just taking to the air and a heron stalking prey; all just a couple of hundred metres further down the track. Window down, some quick snaps and fingers crossed!

 

Spoonbill at work

Swan take off

It is only a five-minute drive to the river mouth but the wind has certainly whipped up the water and bent the grassy pastures. The area around the Murray mouth has a varied collection of shacks, the signposted entrance to a conservation park and even a pop-up coffee van.

 

Murray Mouth with dredge in background

Surprise…time for a break

Despite the blustery weather a tourist boat is taking groups from Goolwa along the sheltered reaches of the Coorong to enjoy the scenery and wildlife. As I lift the camera to photograph the boat I notice a Pacific Gull tracing its path in the foreground, a nice image !

 

Tourist boat and gull in synch

There is a sign near the mouth for the Lawari Conservation Park which covers 106 hectares at the eastern end of Hindmarsh Island incorporating natural coastal scrub and former grazing land. Lawari means Cape Barren Goose in the local Ngarrindjeri language. Over a hundred different species of birds have been recorded in this park and there are significant reptile species as well as Western Grey Kangaroos.

 

Cape Barren Geese

Entrance to park near the river mouth

The wind and cloud have made the Murray Mouth too difficult to photograph as the wildlife is taking shelter in the grass and shrubs. I turn for home and retrace my path down the middle of the island stopping at the memorial to Captain Charles Sturt who was the first European explorer to view the Mouth of the Murray.

 

Sturt memorial

Layby near the bridge

 

Just before I cross the bridge back to the mainland there is a shelter with parking, a barbecue area and detailed graphics about Hindmarsh Island’s history. I take a path through the scrub leading a to a lookout where I can Goolwa and catch a glimpse of an old paddle steamer at the docks. This visit and reading the historical information enthuse me to return on a sunnier day and explore more of this special place where history, culture and wildlife are so closely interwoven.   

Cheers

Baz

Additional notes

This is an easy drive and walk which is quite suitable for families and seniors. Hindmarsh Island is dog friendly except for the Conservation Park.

Some useful links

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindmarsh_Island#Lonely_Island

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/

Hindmarsh Island ……Part 1

29 Mar

 

Hindmarsh Island ……Part 1

Dear Reader:

The bridge over the Murray River to the island is sleek and modern. Where it terminates there is a small layby and a short track going back under the concrete stanchions. A line of posts edges into the river. Probably part of the old ferry structures. Every few minutes, Australian Pelicans land on the old wooden posts and rails resting or watching for prey in the water.

 

Hindmarsh Island Bridge

After a while, the pelicans move off and land in the water near a reed patch. Another bird joins them and they start to swim in a roughly circular formation. They seem to be hunting; possibly herding small fish. My thoughts are confirmed when the birds tighten the circle and simultaneously dip their heads and long beaks into the water. The manoeuvre is repeated several times. Their movements are very graceful, almost like watching synchronised swimming or ballerinas with fluffed up tutus.

 

Pelicans up

Pelicans down

I am on Hindmarsh Island; Kumerangk in the language of the First Nations People who live in this area, the Ngarrindjeri. The island is an hour and a half drive SE of Adelaide near the town of Goolwa. It is flat and low with extensive areas of pasture, some scrub and a modern housing development with associated marina. There are numerous roads both paved and dirt criss-crossing the island. Hindmarsh Island is significant both in South Australia’s settler history and Ngarrindjeri history and culture and the creation of the bridge was the subject of friction between First Nations People and the SA government.

 

Fishing the channel

I continue driving for another ten minutes, past the marina turnoff on my right then the take one of several unsealed roads to my left which brings me to a shoreline where there is a small group of houses. Two fishermen are working the channel and I stop and chat with them for a few minutes about the marine and terrestrial wildlife in the area.

 

Orb weaver at work

Lovely, golden grass and patches of coastal scrub carpet this area and offer shelter to a range of animals. I spot some wrens and other small birds and catch a fleeting glimpse of a reptile near the muddy shore. Lizard or snake? Not sure. However, it is an Orb Weaver spider constructing its complex web that intrigues me. I watch the industrious little animal for some time and capture some reasonable close-up images.

 

Lapwing, Ibis, swans

My next stop is a couple of kilometres down the sealed road at a small group of shacks. There are short jetties poking out into the channel and most of them seem to be favourite roosting areas for both Black and Pied cormorants. Where the muddy shoreline and Samphire swamp meet, I can see numerous wading birds including: Spoonbills, Pied Stilts, Sandpipers and Masked Lapwings. In the slightly deeper water, a large flock of Black Swans are feeding.

 

Fascinating ecosytem

 

The morning’s drive and my initial exploration of the island have been quite productive and after I find a place to sit and have a bite to eat, provisioned from one of Goolwa’s many fine bakeries, I will head over to the Murray Mouth and Mundoo Channel to continue my day at Hindmarsh Island…………to be continued.

Cheers

Baz

 

Additional notes

This is an easy drive and walk which is quite suitable for families and seniors. Hindmarsh Island is dog friendly except for the Conservation Parks.

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/

Torrens Island

1 Oct

Torrens Island and its causeway entrance are situated over the Torrens Island Bridge at the end of The Grand Trunkway in Port Adelaide; about a 30 minute drive from Adelaide’s CBD. The island is closed to the public but the small breakwater and causeway are open. Most of the island is a conservation park with the remaining area housing the power stations and some historic sites.

Road across breakwater looking back at hills

The island if flat and covered with mangroves, samphire and saltbush. The causeway has no vegetation. The mangroves that are accessible from the causeway and road are actually situated on Garden Island. The causeway forms a barrier between the Angas inlet on the left and the warm water outlet from the power station on the right as you face the power station.

Black-shouldered Kite perched on light pole

Numerous fish species including bream, mullet, whiting and Mulloway are attracted to the warm water. In turn, predatory birds such as: herons, pelicans, terns, gulls, cormorants and egrets are found in this area. Small mangrove crabs are found under the rocks in the intertidal region. Dolphins are not uncommon and best spotted from the bridge.  A population of common rats live among the rocks feeding on discarded bait but they are rarely seen during daylight hours.

Little Egret hunting near mangroves

The dominant vegetation seen from the causeway is the Grey Mangrove with small amounts of samphire. At low tide there are seagrass meadows visible through the fencing on the mudflats to the left facing the power station.

Mangrove leaves and fruit….note the waxy top and rough, paler underside where salt crystals accumulate.

Prior to European settlement the mangrove and samphire swamp areas were a rich hunting and gathering region for the local Kaurna people. They would have caught crabs and speared or netted fish as well as collecting shellfish.

Torrens Island power station

Torrens Island was named after Robert Torrens senior who was chairman of the SA Colonisation Commission. Between 1870 and 1980 it was a quarantine station for both animals and people entering the state. During World War 1 the island was used as an internment camp for citizens of German and Austrian backgrounds. Since 1963 much of the island and surrounding water have been protected areas and part of different marine reserves. Three power stations are operating on the island: Torrens Island PS since 1963, Quarrantine PS since 2002 and finally Barker Inlet PS since 2009. All are gas powered.

Fishing as the sun goes down

Fishing from the rocky causeway in the warm water outlet is popular. There are fine views of the ships’ graveyard and its wrecks from the bridge. Tours of the old quarantine facilities can be arranged through the maritime museum in Port Adelaide. In short, quite an interesting place to visit and combine with a day at Port Adelaide.

Cheers

Baz

Additional notes

This is an easy destination to visit and is 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.

 Click on this link and see more South Australian stories and pictures in my Weekend Notes articles

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

About Port Gawler

1 Sep

Dear Reader:

For the rest of this year I will be posting occasional articles exploring some destinations along Adelaide’s coastline. They will include notes on: terrain, vegetation, common animals, history( First Nations and European) and other attractions. Port Gawler is the first in this series.

Introduction

Port Gawler is about 30 kms north-west of Adelaide’s CBD along Port Wakefield Road, Highway 1. The road from the main highway to Port Gawler has some fertile pastureland flanking it as well as mangrove and salt bush closer to the coast.

Fertile farmland on the drive into Port Gawler

 

Terrain

The seafront is dominated by Grey Mangroves with areas of samphire and low scrub alongside. An extensive beach area of shell grit and mud is exposed at low tide for hundreds of metres. Where the Gawler River meets the beach there is a channel. Seagrasses cover the sub-tidal region further out to sea. 

Samphire, saltbush and wetlands

Wildlife

Mangrove stands are important nursery areas for many recreational fish species such as King George Whiting, mullet species and Black Bream. Numerous marine snails, bivalves, crabs, sponges and other invertebrates live in the complex mangrove jungle and seagrass meadows. Butterflies, damselflies, dragonflies, mosquitoes and small spiders are common terrestrial invertebrates.

Masked Lapwing

Bird life in this area is prolific and includes many shore birds such as herons, oyster catchers, Black Swans, Cormorants, ibises, gulls and stilts as well as numerous migratory species including plovers and other small waders from as far away as Mongolia. Warblers, flycatchers and honeyeaters live in the dense foliage of the mangroves and are easy to recognise by their calls but hard to spot. The density of smaller birds also attracts some raptors including Nankeen Kestrels and Black-shouldered Kites. There are foxes, hares, lizards and snakes in the surrounding pasture and scrub. 

Nankeen kestrel hovering

 

Vegetation

The dominant plant in this region is the Grey Mangrove which grows close to the shore and extends into the shallow intertidal zone. The tubular structures that push through the mud are part of the root system called pneumatophores. They help the plant to absorb oxygen. Samphire, saltbush, pigface and other low growing hardy plants are found around the shoreline. Large amounts of seaweed are often washed up on the shore during the winter months. It is dead Posidonia or strapweed, a common sea grass along our coastline.

Grey Mangroves at low tide showing channel and pneumataphores

Mangrove fruits

History

First Nations

This was a rich area for the indigenous Kaurna people whose coastal lands stretched from Port Wakefield in the north to Cape Jervis in the south. They fished, hunted and collected shellfish and crabs from the estuary and used reeds for constructing a variety of products including fish nets and baskets.

Blue Crab

European settlement

Port Gawler was named in 1867 Governor Henry Young most likely for the earlier Governor, George Gawler. It was surveyed in 1869 and a large property of 4000 acres named Buckland Park was established along the river. The township and Lisbon Wharf became an important shipping point for grain and other produce with over 100 shallow draft ships called ketches taking their cargo to Port Adelaide. In 1920 fire destroyed the wharf and it was never rebuilt as a nearby rail link to Port Adelaide was constructed.

Remains of the old wharf system

Other notes e.g. attractions facilities

There is no township only a boat ramp, toilet block and shelter with interpretive information. Port Gawler marks the beginning of the Saphire Coast, a shallow mangrove and mud flat dominated stretch of coastline incorporating the Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary-Winaityinaityi PangkaraThere is a nearby off-road hire park for 4WD, motor bikes and go-carts. Bird watching, fishing are popular along this part of the coast. From September to April, large numbers of Blue Crabs are caught in the shallows.

I hope you enjoyed this description and plan a visit to Port Gawler in the near future. Next month’s blog I will return to my personal account style. Until then…..enjoy and protect the natural world and all it offers.

Cheers

Baz

Click on this link and see more South Australian stories and pictures in my Weekend Notes articles

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

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/

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

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

Middle Beach Wildlife

2 Jun

Dear Reader:

The road is paved to start with then turns into a well graded, dirt track which leads into a small beachside settlement. There is both pasture, coastal wetland and a roadside corridor of scrub and gum trees along this approach road. These distinct environments provide fertile hunting grounds for raptors and I am lucky enough to spot two species before I get to the mangrove and beach environment I have come to explore. A Brown Falcon perched on an old fencepost and a Black Shouldered Kite precariously balanced on a power line.

 

Black-shouldered Kite

Brown Falcon

I am exploring Middle Beach, a coastal township set amongst mangrove stands and shallow beaches; about a forty-five-minute drive from the centre of Adelaide. There is a small boat launching ramp, numerous channels that wind through the mangroves and even a public toilet in this unique setting. Middle beach is renowned for crabbing and fishing and is well worth a visit if canoeing, birdwatching or angling are your thing.

 

Singing Honeyeater

Grebe species

 The mangroves are home to a wide variety of animals including dozens of local and migratory birds, but they are hard to spot and even harder to photograph. However, their varied calls are a familiar soundtrack every time I visit these coastal reaches. Today I am lucky enough to see a Singing Honeyeater and Grebe as I walk up the shallow channel towards the sea.

 

Samphire and Mangrove

  I spend another hour combing the beach and taking a few landscape shots of the receding tide and reddish growths of Samphire. I use the extreme magnification of the camera to watch Great Egrets, White Faced Herons and Ibises in the distance as they forage in the seagrasses. Unfortunately, they are all just out of range for a good shot, even with the extraordinary telephoto capabilities of my Nikon P900.

 

Bovine Family Portrait

Around the water tank

On the drive back to the main freeway I decide to concentrate on photographing the rural landscape and I am rewarded by some interesting images of cows and Ibises near an old water tank and a group of cows seemingly posing for a family portrait. A great way to finish my Middle Beach excursion.

Take a drive there and let me know what you think.

Cheers

Baz

 Additional notes

This is an easy walk/drive which is quite suitable for families and seniors with public toilets, 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

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