Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Outback - Part 2

So we turned round and headed back towards Port Augusta, where we would camp before heading up the Stuart Highway to Alice Springs, the red centre. Next morning dawned drizzly, so we called in to the Arid Lands Botanical Garden in the hope that the weather would clear for our long drive North. The birds were keeping their heads down, but we did see this Pallid Cuckoo, and on the way out a nice group of Sturt's Desert Pea, South Australia's national flower. As we continued north, the skies cleared and the desert was blooming. The drive to Alice Springs takes two days to complete comfortably (allowing for birding along the way)and the highway is long, straight and can be very boring. We saw lots of raptors along the way, with more Wedge-tailed Eagles and some Brown Falcons posing nicely in trees along the verge. We were soon in new territory, which comes with the added benefit of new birds. We stopped at a few spots, including one just short of the Northern Territory border where I saw a Bourke's Parrot, a real icon of the red centre. In the drier areas, our common Superb Fairywren is replaced by White-winged Fairywren. I didn't manage a shot of the stunning male, but this is the first time I have photographed the female. Carrying on to "the Alice", the weather deteriorated again, and we finally arrived after dark, in persistent drizzle, looking forward to new birds in the morning!!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Outback - Part 1

I am just back from a week in the Australian outback. First stop was in the Flinders Ranges National Park where we arrived late afternoon and stopped at Stokes Hill Lookout where we saw a couple of distant Short-tailed Grasswrens on the spinifex covered slopes. There are a lot of grass trees here, a favourite of mine.

We camped close by, and woke to a lovely dawn, before heading back up to the lookout for another try at the grasswren. No sign of them this time, but we did see plenty of Euros (also known as Common Wallaroo). At the lookout, there is a relief map of Wilpena Pound, a huge natural phenomenon and the main draw to the park. The eastern edge of Wilpena Pound is visible in the distance. We exited the National Park via Brachina Gorge, and on the way to the gorge, caught site of a couple of Wedge-tailed Eagles feeding. Right next to the eagles were a couple of Elegant Parrots. (The light was still poor so the images are a bit noisy due to the high ISO setting). Brachina gorge was in great shape with plenty of wild flowers around, and I also managed a quick shot of a Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby (my first wild sighting!!) before it high-tailed into the scrub. A little further on was a group of young stripey Emu chicks with Dad following closely behind. Once out of the gorge we headed north towards Lyndhurst and the end of the tarmac. As we tracked northwards, the skies dimmed, the drizzle started and we ended up driving in steady rain. The forecast was for 1-5 mm of rain (up to 2 inches) but in the end between 40 and 60mm fell resulting in the closure of all desert tracks due to dangerous road conditions and flooding. The weather radar showed heavy rain for at least the next few hours, and the locals thought the roads could be closed for 3 - 4 days. Luckily we had a Plan B...............

Monday, August 16, 2010

Going bush!!

I will be offline for a week or so as I am heading up into the outback for a week. With all the rain we have been having, the outback is bursting into life with many 100,000's of birds breeding, and rivers and creeks flowing for the first time in 20 years. Below is a map (courtesy of whereis.com) of my planned 3,000Km (1,800 Mile) route, though with extra birding and those infamous U-turns I'm sure to clock up a few extra Km. And a few photos from the same area on my last trip in 2006

Friday, August 13, 2010

Skywatch Friday

Autumn colours at Mount Lofty Botanical Gardens, Adelaide Hills, South Australia.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Kaurna Wetlands Park

I only managed to get out for an hour on Sunday, so I walked around the wetlands. We have had a lot of rain recently so I was keen to see what the water levels are like. The first channel wads really full, so I started taking photos trying to remember where I'd taken them in the heat of last summer for comparison. After a while I realised I had taken all scenic shots, and no birds, (a first for me!!) So here they are, preceded by a screen capture courtesy of google maps, showing the location and direction of each shot. Shot 1 shows my house, (Red roof with the silver Subaru Forester parked on the road), taken from the entry way to the park. The next two show the first part of the outer path (2) and the closest water channel (3). The areas closest to my house have been planted with indigenous trees that are still to reach maturity (4). There are two paths that cross the park, making a shorter loop possible. (5). To the east is the largest feeder pond, (6) and (7), and this was the first time I had seen water flowing into the wetlands here. The park is well used by locals, and I always see joggers (8) and dog-walkers here. The Eastern side is bordered by some agricultural holdings including an olive orchard (9) The northern path goes through more mature woodland (10) and holds a number of smaller ponds (11) and the main wetland area (12) which held water for the first time this winter. As you head around the wetland and turn towards the South-east, the path runs along a raised embankment, parallel to a main road (13), and you get views into the centre of the park (14). The inner paths are not so wide, as they get less use (15). Finally it's time to turn back eastwards towards home. This is the path I use each day to get to the bus stop for work (16) which takes me behind the old folks home (17) Hopefully this has given you a taste of the wetland park close to my home.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Skywatch Friday

This Rainbow was seen over the southern Flinders Ranges, South Australia