Tag Archives: Linear Park

Naturally Bonython Park

1 Nov

Naturally Bonython Park

Dear Reader

There are two rainbow lorikeets perched halfway up a red gum. They are exploring a potential nesting hole. First one bird pokes its head in then the other. Their house hunting is accompanied by much squawking, head bobbing and an occasional nip at each other. Just when they seem to have decided that this is the right site, a magpie lands on the branch just above them and both parrots take flight.


Rainbow lorikeets at nesting hole


I am in Bonython Park by the Torrens River; downstream from the weir and opposite the Coca Cola factory on Port Road. Below me cycle and walking trails surround the waterway and a small causeway and larger train bridge cut across the river. The park abuts the holding paddocks for the police greys by the old jail and includes wide expanses of green space, a shallow paddling lake, kiosk and children’s playgrounds.


Bonython Park Kiosk



From the recreational area I walk down to the pathway then head back upstream towards the train-bridge and city. The river bank is cloaked in tall reed beds and I can hear numerous small birds moving and calling in the jungle of stalks and leaves. There are several grassy areas that are free from the reeds and they provide opportune places to sit and observe the river’s wildlife.


Purple swamp hen


Coots, moorhens and purple swamp hens are common along this stretch of water. The coots and moorhens tend to be in the water paddling close to the cover of the reeds. The swamp hens are more often seen in amongst the tangle of plants by the bank where they use their elongated feet to walk gingerly on the fallen reeds that form a mat on the water’s surface.


Downstream view from railway bridge


The view from the bridge to the ford provides a good oversight of the river and eucalyptus trees that line the banks. However, the bridge is also a perfect shelter for a number of different animals. Over the years I have watched water rats foraging here and even a fox that was taking shelter during a rain storm. Today it is an eastern water skink that makes an appearance as it forages amongst the old wooden foundations of a pathway that runs under the bridge.


Eastern water skink


Downstream from the bridge there are several islets made from debris that has floated down the river during recent floods. Several pelicans have claimed this territory as a resting place and are squabbling over squatters’ rights. They duel with their beaks, neither giving way, while disturbing a group of black cormorants that are using the same area.


Pelican agro


I am almost back to where I started when I find one last target for my camera. Two swallows are perching on a papyrus stem where they are making forays over the water to hawk insects. Swallows are not the easiest birds to photograph as they are incessantly on the move but this pair has cooperated even though they are still at the extreme range of my equipment.


Resting swallows


Cheers and enjoy the spring


Breakout Creek’s Herons

22 Jun


Dear Reader

It is a typically South Australian winter’s afternoon; cool, clear and sunny with a light breeze coming off the ocean.

5 heron poised to strike

Grey faced heron poised to strike….click to enlarge image

4 heron and yabbie

Heron and yabbie (freshwater crayfish)….click to enlarge image


The white faced heron is hunting amongst the shallow reed beds and rocks along the edge of the river bank. It moves slowly, carefully placing each of its long, spindly legs before freezing to stare into the water in search of prey. The long neck coils back slowly and then with disarming speed the dagger beak flashes into the water to snatch an unsuspecting yabbie. The bird rearranges the unlucky crawfish in its beak then strides onto the causeway to enjoy its catch.

3 white faced heron in flight

White faced heron in flight….click to enlarge image


Over the next few minutes I watch the heron as it continues to hunt in the same area. I am trying to capture some images that depict its hunting style but the wader is becoming more nervous and eventually takes to the air.

Breakout Creek looking south

Breakout Creek looking south….click to enlarge image


I am at Breakout Creek, a section of the Torrens where the river broadens and significant environmental work has been done to improve aquatic habitats. Over the years I have seen water rats, lizards, frogs, possums as well as a wide variety of birds in this area. It is a favourite destination when I go for a bike ride along Linear Park and one that I would recommend to any visitor who enjoys the outdoors and a little mild exercise. Free bikes are available at the weir near the golf course and the ride to Breakout Creek and back is an easy one hour pedal.

7 greater egret

Greater egret….click to enlarge image


From the causeway I cycle back towards the city for a couple of hundred metres then dismount where the reeds are thickest. Between a small island and the bank a lone greater egret is hunting, half concealed by the brush. Like the grey face the egret uses its long bill to snatch small prey from the water and while I am watching it snaps up several small fish.

2 Nankeen night heron

Nankeen night heron….click to enlarge image


Close by the reed bed some tall eucalypts overhang the creek and, as luck would have it, there is a far more unusual heron roosting in the topmost branches. The nankeen night heron is a nocturnal hunter and it spends the days resting before hunting for its prey when the sun goes down. This one is becoming a little more active as it is now late afternoon. Night herons are one of my favourite birds and though they are not exactly rare along the river seeing one is a bit of a treat.

6 red ochre grill

Red ochre grill….click to enlarge image


Three herons in one day (egrets are a kind of heron )……nice; but the day is not done and I have planned to meet a friend for dinner at the Red Ochre Grill, a fabulous restaurant adjacent to the weir, golf course and bike hire station where I started my ride. Their menu, which sources local ingredients and is a kind of upmarket take on the bush tucker concept, is certainly something to look forward to.


Until next time


A Sunday Walk…….Hackney Street Bridge

1 Mar

Dear reader

South Australia’s wild expanses are vast and the wildlife fascinating  in these remote areas but the cities and towns have their own natural features and often the wildlife is equally prolific and interesting in these urban spaces.

The River Torrens flows from the Adelaide hills through the city and on to the coast. It is an effective wildlife corridor supporting a wide range of animals and plants. The government of South Australia, along with local councils and interested wildlife groups, have crafted the aptly named ‘Linear Park’ along the urban sector of the waterway. It is defined by a narrow strip of bushland that runs along the river from the hills suburb of Athelstone to its outlet at Henley Beach. Walking or cycling along sections of this trail is a great way to experience the wildlife of the region. In some areas there are also interpretive references and information about the Kaurna People; the original Aboriginal inhabitants of the Adelaide plains.

Bubble fountains installed in the river help reduce algal blooms in the hot summer months

Bubble fountains installed in the river help reduce algal blooms in the hot summer months

The section of park that runs between the two bridges spanning Hackney and Frome roads is one of my favourite haunts. Although it is on the very fringe of the city centre there is a surprising amount of wildlife for the careful observer to enjoy. My last walk along this section of the river was an early morning jaunt on a Sunday. I shared the path with a few cyclists and joggers all blissfully unaware of the interesting creatures that they were passing.

Cyclist crossing linear park behind the Zoo

Cyclist crossing linear park behind the Zoo

Several stands of large eucalypts overhang this part of the river providing perfect roosting sires for great cormorants. This particular morning several of the birds were puffing out their neck feathers and jockeying for position on some bare branches trying to catch the first rays of the sun filtering through the canopy. As I walked along the bank they started to stretch their wings and glide down to the water to begin the morning’s hunt for fish, frogs and occasional water kkink.

Great Cormorants roosting in trees overhanging the Torrens Lake

Great cormorants roosting in trees overhanging the Torrens Lake

And there were quite a few nervous skinks for the cormorants to set their sights on. Amongst the tall papyrus reeds that grow along much of the bank, I could hear the rustle of the little reptiles as they scurried into the dense matt of stalks and grasses. Eventually one of the lizards decided that freezing was a better escape strategy and I was able to capture an image before it too, disappeared into the reeds. The area seemed to have quite a large population of lizards so I adopted a sit and wait policy. A few minutes later my patience was rewarded when I noticed two cormorants fishing close to the reeds.  After several failed attempts one of the birds emerged with either a slender fish or a lizard firmly clamped in its hooked beak which it then dispatched with a quick gulp.

A water skink freezes in the undergrowth near the river bank

A water skink freezes in the undergrowth near the river bank


The first half an hour of my walk had taken me along the western bank up to the Frome Road Bridge. From there I crossed the river and walked back along the opposite side. Small groups of Pacific and maned ducks were feeding close to the bank and a small Australian grebe was having an energetic wash in a sheltered pool.  But it was a colourful dragonfly that really caught my attention as it flitted over the water eventually settling on the branch of a gum tree. One brief moment for a photo op and it was gone.

Dragonfly on eucalyptus branch

Dragonfly on eucalyptus branch

My final wildlife encounter was with a couple of mudlarks that had built a cup shaped mud nest in one of the taller eucalypts that grew out from the bank. One of these territorial little birds was aggressively defending its territory against a large raven that had landed too close to their nesting site. The other bird was perched on a branch peering into the bushes near the water in search of prey.

A Mudlark perches on a branch watching for insects

A mudlark perches on a branch watching for insects


Insects, reptiles, birds and a good walk; not a bad way to spend the morning- just one final touch, breakfast in one of Adelaide’s parkland bistros a few minute’s drive from the river.



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