Tag Archives: little pied cormorant

Patowolonga’s Cormorants

1 Dec

Dear Reader:

It is a glorious spring day, not a breath of wind to ruffle the placid expanse of water that stretches out in front of me. By the breakwater there is a gathering of little black cormorants paddling alongside the rocky barrier. Every few minutes, one of the birds dives and swims out into the deeper water to hunt. Cormorants use both wings and feet to navigate underwater. Their aquatic speed and agility combined with specially adapted eyes and serrated beaks make them formidable fishers.

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Black cormorant

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Black cormorant diving

 

I am walking around the Patawolonga from Glenelg towards the first road and foot-bridge. This man-made lake extends between Glenelg and West beach for around 1.5 kilometres and serves as a flood mitigation system. The area also incorporates a berths for larger boats and lock that lead on to Holdfast Shores Marina an upmarket, shopping, restaurant and residential complex.

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View from the bridge

 

When I reach the bridge there is a spectacular view back down the lake towards Glenelg that takes in the old replica ship The Buffalo which brought some of South Australia’s first colonists and governor ashore. The extensive grassed areas that run alongside ‘The Pat’ are shaded by eucalypts and Norfolk pines which attract a wide range of common urban birds. Today there are numerous crested pigeons foraging in the grass as well as wagtails and swallows demonstrating their sophisticated aerial acrobatics as they hunt for insects nearer the water.

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Crested pigeon

 

From the western end of the bridge I walk back towards Glenelg along the edge of the marina. There are several fishermen casting for bream and I stop and chat with them. Apparently a small pod of dolphins has been in the area over the last few days. Not great for fishing but wonderful for those who simply enjoy the wildlife. The rocks along this part of the Patawolonga have a healthy cover of small molluscs and occasionally I catch sight of small schools of baitfish in the shallows.

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periwinkles at low water

 

The path stops near a dive shop and I have to walk around the lake past neatly kept houses. When I reach the lock I can see dozens of swallows hawking insects. A few have settled on the glass and steel partitions that enclose some of the nearby units to rest for few minutes before resuming their hunting sorties.

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resting swallow

 

The lock is not being used by any of the local boaties and I am able to walk across to finish my circuit of the lake, watched intently by yet another cormorant. This time it is a pied cormorant, perched high on a railing. The bird is drying its wings before it too dives back into the water for lunch while I head for nearby Jetty Road with similar intent.

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Pied cormorant drying wings on lock

 

 

Cheers

Baz

 

Additional notes

This is an easy walk which is quite suitable for families and seniors with public toilets, barbecues, parking and other facilities nearby.

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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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