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 April 3rd 2018
Grange for a bite
The light poles along our local jetties can be a magnet for numerous bird species. They use them to scan the ocean for prey, catch the breeze while drying their feathers or watch the local fishers in the hope of grabbing some discarded bait. And today is no exception; there is a juvenile Pacific gull perched on one pole, a cormorant on another and near the end of the jetty several perching seagulls are watching a couple hoisting out crab nets.
Today I am enjoying the pleasures of Grange jetty, which is around 100 metres long with a shelter at the seaward end and an excellent cafe nestled into the dunes by the beach. The jetty is a haven for fishing, crabbing and general recreation but was once used to load clippers and grain barges along our shallow foreshore.
As I walk past the incumbent bird life, I notice a strange black shape half beached on one of the sand bars. A closer look through my telephoto lens reveals a large seal lolling on its back, fins in the air and seemingly thoroughly enjoying a bit of R&R in the shallows. This particular animal is apparently a common visitor to the urban beaches and anglers often throw it a fish or two as it swims past the jetty.
The shallows are clear today and I can see little fish schooling near the bottom. They are probably mullet or salmon trout. Near one of the jetty uprights, I notice a small puffer fish cruising above the undulating rifts of sand and scattered shell fragments. Over the years, I have watched stingrays, blue swimmer crabs and even a harmless Port Jackson sharks foraging in these inshore waters.
Where the jetty and shore meet, a strip of well preserved coastal vegetation runs parallel to the beach. There are acacia bushes, hardy coastal grasses, pigface and a host of other plants. They are home to a variety of species including singing honeyeaters, spotted doves, kestrels and even the occasional brown snake. Today I am lucky enough to spot a large bearded dragon lizard perched on a dead tree branch as it waits for insects to ambush.
My stroll along the jetty is at an end and a welcome lunch of dukkah crusted barramundi with cheesecake to follow await at the Grange Kiosk, but not before I take one last picture across the sand hills. The Marines are a wonderfully restored group of three-story Victorian terraces that contribute significantly to Grange's unique character.