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 May 9th 2017
There is a pair of mud dauber wasps industriously collecting the wet clay from the edge of the creek bank. They seem unperturbed by my presence as they go about their business. Eventually, they fly off, only to return ten minutes later to continue their chore. These brightly coloured wasps commonly build their nests on the sides of houses. They are capable of stinging but not at all aggressive and are sometimes observed dragging spiders along the ground. They use them to provide food for their emerging larvae.
I am in the Mitcham Reserve, a lovely little park which sits alongside a historic old bridge on Brownhill Creek. There are tadpoles and ducks in the water, magpies warbling from the trees and children enjoying the grassed areas and playground. In the warm weather, an ice cream van often appears in the parking area and there are many shops and restaurants in close proximity.
I exit the reserve by turning left back onto Taylors Road then right into High Street and sharp right again into Brownhill Creek Road which follows the creek towards the hills. There are numerous lay-bys along the road which provide excellent places to get out and explore the creek and scan the steep hillsides on the opposite side for wildlife.
At my first stop, I am pleasantly surprised to see a koala climbing up a slender eucalypt. It stops to watch me for a while then resumes its measured progress towards more succulent leaves in the higher reaches.
Over the next hour, I stop at several more lay-bys. Nearly everyone seems to have a resident koala. One particularly energetic marsupial is in the process of negotiating some particularly willowy branches to reach its chosen meal.
My final stop is bereft of koalas and it is high time for me to get out and really stretch my legs. I can hear the twittering of a blue wren in the thick bushes that line the creek bed and an Adelaide rosella is perched high in a massive gum tree; both species are camera shy! But a couple of obliging ravens (we mistakenly call them crows) are having an intense domestic dispute on a branch overhanging the creek. They are too self-absorbed to fly off and I capture a quick image.
Down by the creek I can hear frogs and the occasional rustling in the undergrowth; probably from small lizards such as sliders and common skinks. But it is another insect that provides my final image; a beautiful green dragonfly that has settled amongst the reeds that shade a small pool.