Fur, Feathers and Football

2 Aug

Dear Reader:

Winter in Adelaide brings its own special pleasures. The hills lose their brownish tinge, the sea is wilder, different flowers are in bloom and the wildlife changes as some species head to warmer climes and others replace them. But to many Adelaideans, winter also heralds the footy (AFL) season and a rather spectacular upgrade to the already picturesque Adelaide oval has added a new dimension to the watching this uniquely Australian sport. The venue has also brought up to 50 000 spectators to the banks of the Torrens Lake on a weekly pilgrimage to support their teams.

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Footy fans on the new bridge to the stadium

Today the crowd is flowing over the lake on the glass and steel bridge with their silver, black and teal scarves whipping in the breeze while I am under it with the teal wing flashes of a black duck locked into my viewfinder. Just a few moments earlier I had also been on the receiving end of a severe telling off from a pied cormorant that took exception to my presence near its favourite fishing spot on the river bank.

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Black duck

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Get away from my patch

I had cycled into town just prior to the match to take some pictures of the new stadium to promote it as one of the many attractions the city boasts. As I walked along the river bank I was distracted by the abundance of winter wildlife and the various animals’ indifference to the huge influx of people above them. And the thought occurred to me; if a few fans arrived early or stayed later they could take in some of the natural wonders that the city has to offer as well as enjoying the sport.

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Australian water rat heading back into the lake.

Leaving the cormorant to its protestations, the duck to its scratching and the crowd to their game, I decide to work my way along the eastern bank of the lake towards the weir. No more than two meters in front of me I can see the tell tale V shape ripples of an Australian native water rat hunting close to the dock that fronts the rowing club. The little mammal hops up on the wooden edge every few minutes to eat a freshwater mussel, yabbie or frog that it has caught. An extraordinary encounter with a very shy Australian native mammal.

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Australian pelican foraging along the bank

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Black swan in nest made from twigs, reeds and debris

Closer to the weir the reeds are quite dense providing a perfect habitat for Australian pelicans and black swans. The pelicans forage along the banks for fish and invertebrates while the swans have constructed a nest alongside some protective netting that is being used to re establish native aquatic plants.

My winter walk along the Torrens has been more than a little rewarding and I am looking forward to a cup of coffee at the little café by the weir where I will check on the footy scores while I can still hear the  intermittent roars of the crowd in the background.

Until next time

Cheers

Baz

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