A Walk to the Falls

12 Jul

Dear Reader

Last Saturday was a classic Adelaide winter’s day. It had rained the night before and a fine patina of dew decorated the shrubs in my garden. The sky was clear and despite a chill in the morning air it promised to be sunny and dry; perfect conditions for a walk in the park. Not any park though. My park of choice was a little conservation reserve nestled in the foothills about 20 minutes from the city centre. Like Waterfall Gully,  Morialta Conservation Park is graced by a series of waterfalls and steep walking trails that cut through a variety of classic bush habitats.

AB Typical sandstone and eucalypt bushland within the park

Typical sandstone and eucalypt bushland within the park

 The drive took me a little longer than expected as I was waylaid by the smell of freshly cooked pastries emanating from a little bakery. My rucksack now stocked with enough calories to sustain my upcoming physical endeavours and probably those of the next week, I pulled into the little car park alongside the creek, hung a camera from my shoulder and set off up the southernmost trail. The sun was still low in the sky and only the southern face of the steep-sided valley benefited from it.  I had walked just a few metres and was emerging from the shade when I noticed some walkers standing below a tall eucalyptus tree pointing excitedly at one of the higher branches. I followed their obvious line of sight and there, nestled into the fork between trunk and branch was a fairly large koala doing what koalas do best ….stretching out and resting.

AC Koala in tree near the trailhead

Koala in tree near the trailhead

The koala was an unexpected and encouraging start to the day and after spending few minutes watching it I started up the trail with a fair degree of optimism. Winter is never the best time for wildlife. Plants have fewer flowers and fruits and the insects that are attracted to them are in short supply. Of course there is always an up-side when it comes to nature and the damp ground makes it easier for some bird species to fossick for grubs and worms. A pair of blue wrens seemed to be making the best of these conditions, madly hopping from one tree branch to the next then down onto the ground in a never ending search for food. Their constant motion and the morning light gave me only a few half-chances to capture some images and no hope of freezing their motion completely. I did manage a couple of shots that showed some of the obvious differences between the male and female of this species.

AI Male blue wren

Male blue wren

AH Female blue wren

Female blue wren

A little further up the track I stopped and sat on a large boulder and scanned the undergrowth for insects or lizards. There was nothing to be seen or heard but I did notice some honeydew plants growing amongst the grasses near a rocky outcrop. These delicate little plants have tiny inverted cups radiating from their stems. The cups are fringed by small filaments and have sticky, viscous fluid in the centre. Unwary insects are trapped in the sweet heart of the cups and the filaments close on them to seal their fate. The unfortunate bug is then digested by its ‘vegetable’ captor providing essential nutrients that other plants might get from the soil.

AG Honeydew plant

Honeydew plant

 

Colourful wrens, cute koalas and carnivorous plants had provided quite a range of wildlife in the first kilometre or so of my walk. As expected, the wildlife had not been prolific but there always seemed to be something around the next bend if I took the time to pause and use all of my senses. The next few kilometres were enjoyable but largely uneventful. A few honeyeaters flitted between late flowering shrubs, a magpie nervously snatched a drink from the creek while a squadron of miner birds squabbled in a stand of acacia bushes. It was not until I was almost back to the car park and walking below some tall, pale eucalyptus trees that bordered the creek that my next significant encounter occurred.

AD Magpie drinking from the creek below the falls

Magpie drinking from the creek below the falls

A small group of rainbow lorikeets had gathered on the branches of a massive gum tree about 10 metres off the ground. They were screeching loudly and seemed quite agitated. I moved away so as not to scare them and sat quietly in the cover of some thick bushes watching closely through my long lens. The source of their consternation soon became obvious; a pair of galahs had commandeered a nesting hole in the trunk of the tree. Over the next half an hour I witnessed a heated real estate battle develop as a continual rotation of chattering rainbows tried to dislodge their larger rivals. Eventually the galahs moved off and one of the rainbow lorikeets immediately flew down and started to peck around the perimeter of the nest hole.

A A pair of rainbows watching galahs at nest site

A pair of rainbows watching galahs at nest site

AF Inspecting the new proerty

Inspecting the new property

I finished my walk sitting on the edge of the creek with a cappuccino from the coffee van that plies its trade on the weekend and a pastry from my stash. Not a bad way to spend a sunny winter’s day for any wildlife enthusiast.

 

Thanks for taking the time to read this post.

 

Cheers

Baz  

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: