Monday, November 30, 2009

Wet and wild weekend

Following our record breaking heatwave, November went out with a bang. This is a very short post showing the same jetty and beach that the terns were taken on last week. You can clearly seen the storm damage on the jetty. Even the Silver Gulls were having trouble standing up!! This is a fresh cuttlefish bone. It has not been bleached white by the sun. The beach was littered with them.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Belair National Park

This evening, Maryann and I spent some time at Belair National Park. Belair is only a short 20 minute drive from Adelaide City Centre and is the former estate of the Governor General. It is a combination of native bush, open parkland and has an abundance of sporting and barbecue facilities. I had my compact camera with me, so I decided to take a few photos while we were here. Our first stop was at Playford Lake, the only standing water in the park. There were a few ducks here, and also a couple of Noisy Miners. This is a honeyeater, and not related to the mynahs of Asia. We then took a slow drive along the valley, pausing first for this striking gum tree, and then for a big old Koala slowly making his way up another eucalypt. The far end of the valley is open parkland, and usually a few parrots can be found along the way. Eastern Rosellas are very timid, and I have still to get a decent photo of one. Galahs on the other hand are happy to stay put as long as you don't get too close. You can differentiate the male and female here. (I gave a clue in an earlier post). As we headed home, I spotted this pretty big termite mound, and also saw a couple of Grey Currawongs dart accross the road. (The photo is from an earlier visit)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Two Sunday strolls

Today I took a couple of short strolls. The first was at Semaphore, the site of my last "Skywatch Friday" post. We took a short stroll along the beach as the jetty is currently out of bounds as it is being repaired following storm damage. There was a group of about twenty or so Crested Terns of varying ages, so I slowly crept up to them, happily snapping as I went.

My second stroll was at the Roy Amer Reserve, in the northern suburbs. This is one of my favourite spots to bring visitors. It is a small area of lakes and open parkland in the middle of a large housing development. It is like an oasis in the desert, and has an Australian White Ibis breeding colony on one island. Although most of the birds are very common in Adelaide, you get the opportunity to get "up close and personal" with them as they are used to human activity. This is the reserve and a closer view of the ibis colony. And now some of the birds:

Dusky Moorhen Hardhead Crested Pigeon Masked Lapwing Black-fronted Plover Pacific Black Duck Purple Swamphen

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Skywatch Friday

Spring Sunset at Semaphore Foreshore, Adelaide, South Australia

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Short Evening Walk - Short Post

The heatwave has abated for a couple of days and this evening I had a chance for a quick walk to see what damage had been done over the past week. The water levels in the wetland have dropped dramatically, and with 41C (106F) forecast for the next two days, levels will continue to drop quickly. In the photo below, the water was at the bases of the trees on the right and the log was completely submerged only 10 days ago. The hot weather has triggered some more eucalypts to flower and in one was this odd, tailless New Holland Honeyeater. It's the wrong time of year for moulting, so I guess a cat must be the culprit? The second photo shows what he should look like. In the next tree were some White-plumed Honeyeaters, but before I could creep closer they moved on, so this long range (cropped) shot was all I managed.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Greenfields Wetlands - Western Section

The western side of the wetlands lies adjacent to the saltworks. This part of the saltworks is where the salt is harvested and the water in the saltworks is very concentrated. This side of the wetlands has much more open fresh water so there tend to be more pelicans and swans here. The water is also deeper, so there were not so many exposed margins. There was no wind and the water was giving great reflections. The Royal spoonbill in this photo is in full breeding plumage, showing a buffy cast to its breast, long plumes at the back of its head and red on its forehead. Again, no crakes, but I found a nice spot with a bit of cover, and managed to get my first shots of Little Grassbird, a small skulking warbler that inhabits swampy areas. While waiting for the grassbird, I managed to get a couple of flight shots of White-headed Stilt and Whiskered Tern. I also noticed another dragonfly, and like yesterday's I have no idea what it is. Finally, a rather surreal shot of some recently harvested salt. These piles are moved by conveyor to the processing plant where the salt is prepared for sale.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Greenfields Wetland

This morning, before the heat of the day got too much, I went for an early walk around Greenfields Wetland. I noticed a few days ago that the water level was beginning to drop and I was hoping to see some crakes here. The level had just dropped enough to show some muddy margins, so I was hopeful of some waders (shorebirds) as well. As I parked the car, about 50 or so Black-tailed Nativehens appeared from under bushes and borders and disappeared into the reedbed, leaving this very cross Willie Wagtail to scold me for disturbing their Saturday Morning!!. There was nothing notable on the water, just the usual birds. A pair of White-headed Stilts in one corner, an Australian Pelican, and the most notable duck was a male Chestnut Teal As I got to a sheltered corner, there were a few dragonflies hawking for food. This one finally settled and I managed to grab a photo. In the reeds opposite a Purple Swamphen was making its way precariously through the reeds. Back at the carpark I heard a dove call that didn't sound quite right. It was a Barbary Dove. There has been some discussion on the Birding-Aus mail list regarding the status of this species in South Australia. It is thought that they have escaped from captivity, and they seem to be multiplying in Adelaide now. I tracked down at least four at this site and they were happily displaying to each other. Consensus is split between allowing them to continue breeding and rounding them up and destroying them. On the way home, I spotted this Nativehen by the road. They always have such a surprised look on their faces!! No crakes, and only one species of wader. As this wetland is divided by a major highway so tomorrow I will try the other half.......

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Heatwave and Scilly memories

Well, the heatwave continues here in Adelaide. Yesterday the temperature reached 38.9C (104F)- not quite into the 40s. We have similar temperatures forecast for today, so not a day to go out birding!! A good friend of mine has been regaling us with stories of her recent trip to Isles of Scilly on her blog. I used to visit the islands almost every autumn and Jenny's posts have brought back some memories that I thought I'd share. Situated 28 miles SW of Land's End, the Scillies are in the gulf stream and therefore enjoy the mildest climate in the UK. They are also one of the first European points of call for transatlantic migrants and the last for Eastern/Siberian Migrants. This makes the islands a magnet for birders each autumn. On my last couple of visits, I had just started digital photography and digiscoping with a Nikon Coolpix 995, so you'll need to excuse the quality of some of the photos. I really love the mix of rugged coastline and quiet bays, and the walk from Old Town round the coast to Porth Hellic is one of my favourites. The footpath crosses the end of the runway, and there are traffic lights to stop walkers crossing when a plane is landing. Just past the airport is a lovely area of moorland that regularly held the odd vagrant or two. I think we were looking for a Wryneck here. This is the view from the Garrison, towards St Agnes And from St Agnes, westwards where the next landfall would be America. Just to the right of the rocks, on the horizon is Bishpop Rock Lighthouse. And here it is from the same spot, but taken though my digiscoping gear. This is Cromwell's Castle on Tresco And finally a coupls of bird photos. A Dotterel on the Golf Course, and a Snipe taken at Lower Moors. The Scillies really are a beautiful unspoilt place and I would recommend a visit if you are ever in South West England.