Tag Archives: black swan

Once Around the Lake

2 Jul

Dear Reader;

The ‘little pied cormorant’ is perched precariously on a branch overlooking the lake. It has been fishing for the last ten minutes and I have watched the bird continually diving under the water to pursue small fish before swallowing them when it surfaces. When the cormorant has finished the afternoon hunt it will spread out its wings to help dry them before finding a suitable place to roost.

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Little pied cormorant

 

It is a mild winter afternoon and I am strolling around the Torrens Lake between the Frome Road Bridge and the new footbridge that links the city to the Adelaide oval. I have walked this circuit many times stopping at the zoo cafe for coffee, or dining at Jolley’s Boathouse Restaurant in the evening. Each time I manage to encounter a different assortment of wildlife depending on the season, time and weather.

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Jolley’s and Popeye pleasure craft

 

 

In front of Jolley’s a fisherman is casting for carp and earning the close attention of several Australian pelicans. One bird in particular is waiting to see if it can capitalise on his skills. Pelicans are common throughout the year. Sometimes they hunt individually catching small carp in their flexible, pouched beaks and at other times they work together to round up a school of fish.

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Fishing buddies

 

A little further along the embankment a pair of dusky moorhens and a Eurasian coot are feeding on the edge of the water. Coots are adept at diving and they are able to squeeze the water out of their feathers to decrease their buoyancy which makes foraging underwater easier. Both species tend to stay close to the reeds which provide both shelter and a safe place for nesting.

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Eurasian coot and dusky moorhens

 

While I am watching this little group I notice the characteristic V shaped ripples of an Australian water rat heading towards the far bank. Water rats are shy and hard to photograph in the wild and I am pleased to fire off one or two quick frames before it disappears into a tangle of undergrowth and reeds.

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Australian water rat

 

I cross over the Adelaide Oval footbridge to the northern side of the Torrens enjoying an uninterrupted view of the water, parklands and riverside buildings including the Convention Centre and Festival Theatre. A young family are manoeuvring their paddle boat near the fountains and black cormorants are drying their wings on the ‘paper-boat’ sculptures in the centre of the lake.

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View from Adelaide Oval footbridge

 

Near the Frome Road Bridge several swans are swimming majestically along the edge of the manicured lawns to the delight of some children cycling along the path with their parents. The birds are very large with a wingspan approaching two metres and they can be quite formidable when there are cygnets around. On the bank, another bird is using its long flexible neck to preen the feathers on its back and side.

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Black swan

 

My walk concludes by the Frome Road Bridge where I indulge in a well earned cup of coffee at the Wisteria Cafe. Providing a wide range of snacks and casual meals, the cafe can be accessed from both inside and outside the zoo at the southern end of the bridge. It provides a lovely parkland setting alongside a small creek that runs through the Botanic Gardens and into the lake.

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Frome Road Bridge by the zoo

 

Cheers and enjoy a winter walk

Baz

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Barker Inlet and Greenfields Wetlands …a road trip

23 Feb

Barker Inlet and Greenfields Wetlands ….a road trip

Dear Reader:

As I cruise along the highway between Port Adelaide and Salisbury a succession of lagoons, ponds and wetlands flash past my windscreen. Over the last couple of decades this once industrial wasteland has become a haven for wildlife and an integral part of the system converting run off into clean water that flows back into the ocean.

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Torrens island power station looms behind the wetlands

 

There are several parking bays along the way that provide vantage points and access to walking paths into the wetlands. In rather an anomalous environmental scene the first one that I explore has the Torrens Island Power Station as a backdrop. And, a family of maned ducks are sheltering amongst the reeds in the foreground.

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Maned ducks

 

I drive another couple of kilometres to a large siding where two 4WD vehicles with council logos on them are parked by a path into the wetlands. A small group of volunteers are working on clearing weeds, counting bird species and making other environmental observations about the health of the ecosystem.

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Those who care

 

Leaving the voluntary workers to their work I find the next promising entrance and park my car. A sign indicates that we have moved into the Greenfields Wetlands. The track leads to an old bridge then follows an embankment along the edge of a small lake. The twittering of wrens provides a constant sound track as I scan for water fowl and reptiles along the edge of the reeds. There are coots, swamp hens and Pacific black ducks as well as turtles and water skinks along this section of wetland but it is a glorious little blue wren draws the attention of my long lens.

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Male superb blue wren

 

The watercourse ends in a sluice gate that regulates water flow between the ponds and on one side I can see the swirl and splash of large fish feeding in the shallows. They are carp, an unwelcome guest in any ecosystem and their eradication is probably another task for the council and other environmental protection agencies that watch over these important resources.

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Carp feeding in the shallows

 

My final stop, just before the salt pans is particularly fruitful as there is a mixed population of black swans, herons and spoonbills feeding in a shallow lagoon. It is always interesting to observe these quite diverse species with their individual feeding styles and uniquely evolved body parts. Their beaks, legs and feet have developed unique characteristics over time for feeding in the same area but utilising different food sources and therefore not competing.

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A mixed group of waterbirds

 

And, as is so often the case, my thoughts also turn to food. The Watershed Cafe, just over the bridge, is opportunely positioned on another part of the Greenfields system near Mawson Lakes. Sitting on the edge of a reed fringed lake it is the perfect place for coffee and cake at the end of my wetlands drive.

 

Cheer

Baz

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.

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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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