I am an Australian natural history writer and photographer. My aim is to encourage people to venture outdoors and enjoy the natural beauty of our planet.
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Published July 11th 2019
Fur Feathers and Footy
The paper boat models in the middle of the Torrens Lake are a feature of our city's landscape and easily viewed from the steel and glass bridge that provides an access point to the Adelaide oval from the riverbank precinct. Today they are being used as a perch by a pair of great cormorants while they dry their wings.
For thousands of South Aussies, this scene is a prelude to watching a game of footy. However, should you arrive a little early and take a pre-game walk around the edge of the lake down to Montefiore Road Bridge and back you will be sure to encounter a wide variety of birds and even the odd mammal or reptile depending on the weather and time of day.
On my walk, the first encounter is with a Mudlark or Murray Magpie which is gingerly picking its way along the heavy wooden borders by the edge of the lake. It seems to be hunting insects and occasionally dips its beak into the water for a drink.
A little further along the pathway, I notice a purple swamphen using its elongated toes to walk across a tangle of reeds towards a nest which is hidden deep in the reed bed. There is enough sunlight to show up the beautiful plumage on its breast.
Each picture tells a little story about the animal's relationship with both the natural features of the lake and those constructed by people and this theme seems to be a worthwhile one to pursue for the rest of my walk.
On the steep edges of the Montefiore Bridge, there are plantings of shrubs and flower beds and I can hear the rustle of animals moving amongst the greenery. I sit quietly on the concrete steps and use the telephoto to search for my prey. Eventually, I locate a large eastern water skink hiding in the flower beds. A little unusual at this time of year when reptiles are usually hibernating but perhaps the rather warm days we have experienced lately drew it out.
South Australian wildlife, wildlife photography, South Australian tourism, Adelaide tourism, Adelaide wildlife, South Australia nature, Adelaide oval, Torrens Lake, water rat
Just before the footy crowds start pouring across the bridge I notice the 'V' shaped ripples of a water rat forging its way from one bank to the other. These elusive little creatures are fairly common in the Torrens Lake but rarely seen. Sometimes confused with common rats which also swim they are a completely different kind of animal with a wedge-shaped whiskery snout for cutting through water and detecting prey in their murky environment. The white-tipped tail is another giveaway feature.
Catching sight of the water rat has made my day and it is time to indulge in a nice luncheon at one of several eateries on the southern bank of the lake and inevitably share a few crumbs with seagulls or crows who also look for a meal in the built environment.