An Urban Billabong

29 Sep

Dear Reader:

The word billabong looms large in Australian folklore. It is where ‘a jolly swagman’ met his untimely end and mythical beasties called ‘bunyips’ supposedly emerge from the water to devour unwary campers. In reality, billabongs are freshwater wetlands that flood when river levels are high then become more isolated in the dry season. They are essentially backwaters that provide a refuge for many different species of animals as well as being popular locations for camping and fishing.

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Still, dark waters of an urban billabong

 

In South Australia the lower reaches of the Murray River has many lovely billabongs that have provided me with many a peaceful afternoon’s wildlife watching and photography. However, the trail that runs along the banks of Adelaide’s Torrens River also incorporates a little billabong which is tucked behind the upmarket suburb of St Peters, just a stone’s throw from the CBD. It was rehabilitated in the mid eighties and over the intervening years various community and government groups have overseen its care and maintenance.

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A mosaic of the rainbow serpent reflects the importance that Aboriginal people attached to billabongs

 

Last weekend, I packed my little super-zoom camera, hopped on the bike and pedalled up to the billabong to take stock of the wildlife. It has been a long wet winter and I was hoping that the warmth of the first few weeks of spring would stimulate some wildlife activity. I was not entirely disappointed. As I approached the little wooden landing that fronts the water, a pair of amorous crested pigeons pranced and displayed to each other. Close to a patch of reeds a mother black duck was tending a pair of fluffy little ducklings.

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Courting crested pigeons

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A pair of black swans nibble the water side vegetation

 

During the winter months the landscape may be verdant but few of the native shrubs flower and the insects that rely on the blossoms are rare. Now the billabong was clearly beginning to emerge from its winter blues and life was starting to reassert itself. As well as the hormonal pigeons and baby ducks a colony of colonial spiders had constructed a silken trap in an acacia bush and delicate little purple chocolate lilies were emerging from their winter dormancy.

chocolate lily

Chocolate lily

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Colonial spiders construct a complex web in a wattle bush

 

As spring turns to summer I am sure the wildlife will continue to flourish and I look forward to revisiting and reporting back to you.

Cheers

Baz      

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