It is a typical Adelaide winter day: overcast then clear, raining heavily then sunny. Dry before the next set of rain clouds roll in from the sea. I love the contrasts in this weather and nowhere is it more striking than along our coastal suburbs. Today, I have resisted the urge to put my camera away and ventured from the warmth of my home to Grange where I will attempt to do a little wildlife photography between the showers.
As I approach the beach from the Grange Jetty Cafe carpark, I see the turbulent waves crashing into the Jetty pylons and the spray sweeping over the walkway. Not good for cameras. However, the rain has stopped and there is a sliver of blue sky. Time for a walk along the esplanade pathway south towards Henley.
The wind is still hammering away at the coastal scrub and any birds I see are being blown around. A couple of Silver Gulls and a lone Pacific Gull are flying low above the ocean and way out to sea. After walking about a hundred metres, I notice a pair of Starlings bouncing around on the end of a branch (who knows why) and a Willie Wagtail scouring the path for bugs. There seems to be quite a few Wagtails around; perhaps the wind has dislodged bugs from the coastal scrub as they are primarily insect feeders.
My walking pace lifts as the sky darkens and I head back to the café for a drink and some lunch. Even the ever-hopeful pigeons are fluffed up and sheltering under a table in the alfresco area. Inside, it is welcoming and cosy and there is even a rainbow to watch through a window. People seem to be enjoying a sense of warmth and camaraderie while the waves batter the jetty and rain spatters the windows. Perhaps it is some ancient group sheltering response from our cave dwelling past.
Just as I finish my snack the wind drops and the sky clears. I seize on the opportunity to get in a quick walk in the other direction, towards Tennyson and Semaphore. The path curves up past The Marines (beautiful old three story residences) and then follows the beachside scrub. I can hear Singing Honeyeaters in the bushes and finally one lands on a fencepost quite close to me. There are some advantages to winter photography. The noise of the wind and battling the elements make wildlife less aware of our presence.
There are some massive Norfolk Pines near the car park close to the Grange Hotel. Sometimes I have spotted raptors high in their branches scanning for prey. Today, luck is with me. Near the very top of a tree, I spot the familiar outline of a Nankeen Kestrel. Temporary blue sky is providing good light. In addition, using the extraordinary range of my Nikon P900 and steadying the camera against another tree, I manage to capture a reasonable image of the bird.
My winter visit to the coast has been more successful than I anticipated. The kestrel was really 'the icing on the cake'. An idiom which reminds me of the final reward for my winter's afternoon at Grange; cake and coffee at the café. Then it's home to a warm house to review my day's photographs and notes.
Additional notes This is an easy walk which is quite suitable for families and seniors with public toilets, barbecues, parking and other facilities nearby. It is dog friendly.