A Sunday Walk…….Hackney Street Bridge

1 Mar

Dear reader

South Australia’s wild expanses are vast and the wildlife fascinating  in these remote areas but the cities and towns have their own natural features and often the wildlife is equally prolific and interesting in these urban spaces.

The River Torrens flows from the Adelaide hills through the city and on to the coast. It is an effective wildlife corridor supporting a wide range of animals and plants. The government of South Australia, along with local councils and interested wildlife groups, have crafted the aptly named ‘Linear Park’ along the urban sector of the waterway. It is defined by a narrow strip of bushland that runs along the river from the hills suburb of Athelstone to its outlet at Henley Beach. Walking or cycling along sections of this trail is a great way to experience the wildlife of the region. In some areas there are also interpretive references and information about the Kaurna People; the original Aboriginal inhabitants of the Adelaide plains.

Bubble fountains installed in the river help reduce algal blooms in the hot summer months

Bubble fountains installed in the river help reduce algal blooms in the hot summer months

The section of park that runs between the two bridges spanning Hackney and Frome roads is one of my favourite haunts. Although it is on the very fringe of the city centre there is a surprising amount of wildlife for the careful observer to enjoy. My last walk along this section of the river was an early morning jaunt on a Sunday. I shared the path with a few cyclists and joggers all blissfully unaware of the interesting creatures that they were passing.

Cyclist crossing linear park behind the Zoo

Cyclist crossing linear park behind the Zoo

Several stands of large eucalypts overhang this part of the river providing perfect roosting sires for great cormorants. This particular morning several of the birds were puffing out their neck feathers and jockeying for position on some bare branches trying to catch the first rays of the sun filtering through the canopy. As I walked along the bank they started to stretch their wings and glide down to the water to begin the morning’s hunt for fish, frogs and occasional water kkink.

Great Cormorants roosting in trees overhanging the Torrens Lake

Great cormorants roosting in trees overhanging the Torrens Lake

And there were quite a few nervous skinks for the cormorants to set their sights on. Amongst the tall papyrus reeds that grow along much of the bank, I could hear the rustle of the little reptiles as they scurried into the dense matt of stalks and grasses. Eventually one of the lizards decided that freezing was a better escape strategy and I was able to capture an image before it too, disappeared into the reeds. The area seemed to have quite a large population of lizards so I adopted a sit and wait policy. A few minutes later my patience was rewarded when I noticed two cormorants fishing close to the reeds.  After several failed attempts one of the birds emerged with either a slender fish or a lizard firmly clamped in its hooked beak which it then dispatched with a quick gulp.

A water skink freezes in the undergrowth near the river bank

A water skink freezes in the undergrowth near the river bank

 

The first half an hour of my walk had taken me along the western bank up to the Frome Road Bridge. From there I crossed the river and walked back along the opposite side. Small groups of Pacific and maned ducks were feeding close to the bank and a small Australian grebe was having an energetic wash in a sheltered pool.  But it was a colourful dragonfly that really caught my attention as it flitted over the water eventually settling on the branch of a gum tree. One brief moment for a photo op and it was gone.

Dragonfly on eucalyptus branch

Dragonfly on eucalyptus branch

My final wildlife encounter was with a couple of mudlarks that had built a cup shaped mud nest in one of the taller eucalypts that grew out from the bank. One of these territorial little birds was aggressively defending its territory against a large raven that had landed too close to their nesting site. The other bird was perched on a branch peering into the bushes near the water in search of prey.

A Mudlark perches on a branch watching for insects

A mudlark perches on a branch watching for insects

 

Insects, reptiles, birds and a good walk; not a bad way to spend the morning- just one final touch, breakfast in one of Adelaide’s parkland bistros a few minute’s drive from the river.

Cheers

Baz

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