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Wildlife of the Barker Inlet Wetlands

Home > Adelaide > Animals and Wildlife | Outdoor | Photography | Walks
by Barry Silkstone (subscribe)
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. Visit my blog naturallysouthaustralia.com
Published May 1st 2021
Wonderful wetland wildlife
The pair of Black Swans moves gracefully along the waterway. Every so often, one dips its head and long elegant neck into the water and retrieves a strand of plant material from the bottom of the lagoon. These massive birds weigh up to 9 kg and may have a wingspan of between 1.6 to 2.0 metres. They can be found in shallow freshwater and marine environments.

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Black Swans feeding


The main expressway between Salisbury and Port Adelaide is flanked on both sides by a chain of shallow pools and wetlands constructed by the local council over the last twenty years. The section I am exploring is part of the Barker Inlet Wetlands, stretching along the southern side of the road. It has several roadside laybys with short walking paths and is well signposted.

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One of the larger pools in the wetland area and sluice gate


I drive a little further and park in an extensive layby near the main set of interpretive signs. There is a viewing platform and the pathway to the left takes me along the banks of a large pool bordered by thick growths of reeds. Several mudbanks rise from the shallows and there are a variety of bird species making use of these food rich environments. A colony of Australian Pelicans are camped together on the largest of the mud island and long-legged Pied Stilts are hunting closer to me on a smaller one.

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Pelicans resting and preening


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Stilts feeding with Grey Teal in background


Numerous little birds inhabit the reeds and bushes along this stretch of wetlands. Tiny Silvereyes flit from bushes to trees and wrens can be heard twittering in the reed beds while honeyeaters and fantails hawk for insects in the air. It takes patience and a long lens to capture images of these smaller, timid birds but I manage to get a few shots to demonstrate the wonderful diversity of the area.

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Grey Fantail


I have spent a couple of very pleasant hours exploring the wetlands and in truth, I could spend many more as the area is complex with more trails and viewing points available on both sides of the highway. On earlier trips to this area and the adjacent Greenfields Wetlands, I have spotted birds of prey, reptiles and even water rats making use of this fascinating environment.

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Mixed platter at the Birkenhead


My morning stroll is over and dinner beckons at Port Adelaide's Birkenhead Hotel just a short drive down the expressway and over the bridges. It has great food and interesting views over the inner harbour, where it is not unusual to see a pod of dolphins cruise past while you enjoy a meal.

Additional notes
This is an easy drive and walk which is quite suitable for families and seniors with parking facilities only.
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Why? Wonderful nature walk
When: All year round
Where: Barker Inlet Wetlands
Cost: None
Your Comment
What a great array of birdlife Barry. It is certainly a 'wish I were there' location.
The mixed platter looked almost as good.
by Neil Follett (score: 3|2302) 9 days ago
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