Mount Barker’s Wetland Wonders

8 Jun

Dear Reader;

It is a glorious autumn day, perfect for a little bird-watching and a stroll around the water.

 

The tiny plover has been edging around the reed beds for the last ten minutes, finally coming out of the dense cover around the lake to probe the mud for worms and other avian niceties. The colourful little wader seems more confident and continues to feed just forty metres from where I am concealed in the undergrowth; a little too close to bull ant nest for comfort. Eventually it comes close enough for me to fire off a couple of shots before taking off abruptly, spooked by a pair of maned ducks cruising low over the water.

 

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Black-fronted plover (click to enlarge)

 

I am at the Laratinga wetland on the edge of Mount Barker, the largest town in the Adelaide Hills. The word Laratinga comes from the indigenous name for the Mt Barker Creek and near the entrance of the wetlands there is magical series of portraits that relate episodes within the timeline of the original inhabitants of the area, the Peramangk people. Mount Barker is a busy regional centre with plenty of places to buy fresh local ingredients for making up a picnic lunch to enjoy while you wander around the wetlands observing the diverse collection of plants and animals that live there.

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Portraits at the wetlands (click to enlarge)

 

 

 

Leaving my hiding place on the edge of the lake, I follow one of the many trails that zigzag through the reserve. Near the edge of another patch of reeds a small flock of ibis are feeding in the shallows. Their distinctive curved beaks and greater size means they might be feeding in the same habitat as the little plover but their prey will be distinctly different. Such a variety of beaks, feet and size is one of the reasons that so many different species of birds can feed together in the same area without destroying the food supply. But the wetland is not reserved for wildlife enthusiasts and a jogger runs a little too close to the flock causing the them take to the air. Despite this being a fairly recent wetland, constructed by the council to filter water naturally, wildlife and people live quite harmoniously and the birds soon return to their chosen spot and resume dining.

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Ibis in flight (click to enlarge)

 

 

Although I have caught a fleeting glimpse of a couple of turtles in the shallow pools and the undergrowth has more than healthy population of insects; it is the bird life that is dominating my walk around the wetlands. The reeds that encircle the water are a veritable cathedral of birdsong. I can hear the twitter of finches and reed warblers in the tangle of greenery and occasionally catch sight of one of the tiny birds flitting amongst them. Finally a superb blue wren makes a more prolonged appearance as it perches on a reed stem giving me just enough time for one last shot before I leave.

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Superb blue wren (click to enlarge)

 

Cheers

Baz

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