The car is parked and a camera is slung across my shoulder. For a winter's day, the weather is fine though the sea is a little choppy. The wind has dropped this afternoon making it an ideal day to walk along Henley South's seafront and discover which animals are here during the winter months. An information sign tells me of the beachcombing possibilities but I decide to explore the dunes running alongside the promenade and save the beach for a warmer day.
Henley South lies roughly between the Henley Beach Hotel and the mouth of the Torrens River which originally emptied into the sea near the present-day Barker Inlet. Over thousands of years, sediments built up and blocked the estuary and the river terminated in flood plains behind the dune system that once ran along the coast. This caused the seasonal flooding of urban areas and led to the establishment of the Breakout Creek Channel which was completed in 1937.
The channel cuts through the remaining dunes and allows the river to once again flow into the sea. The small estuary and sand bars created by the outflow attract a variety of seabirds including Australian Pelicans, Silver Gulls, Common Terns and Pacific Gulls.
On my walk towards the river mouth, I can hear the unmistakable chirruping of Singing Honeyeaters and I watch several pairs darting about in search of insects and perhaps beginning mating and territorial displays as spring approaches. I am lucky enough to sight one bird sitting exposed on a branch singing loudly to any other bird that will listen.
When I write about the wildlife of any destination, I try to incorporate comments and pictures of different animal groups. In winter, this is difficult, as reptiles and insects are not warm-blooded and tend to be very scarce. Barring the odd rabbits and occasional Red Fox, mammals are even harder to find. However, today I am in luck and spot a native wasp species feeding on flowering Pigface.
A little further along the pathway, I pause to watch a Little Raven flying between some old fenceposts near a walkway to the beach. I take a few raven shots from the edge of the dunes and return to the main pathway. There is a gentleman walking his dog up the path from the beach. We stop and chat after he notices me taking photographs. Like me, he is enjoying the fine weather and has been beachcombing, something for me to consider next time I am here.
The walk has taken me down to the river and back in about an hour including 'photo-stops' and I am looking forward to the 'coffee and cake special' at the Henley Beach Hotel. As I cross the road, I notice a group of people admiring a vintage car and take a closer look. It is a beautifully restored Ford Thunderbird with the plates Elvis P. And one of the watchers informs me that today, the 16th of August, is the anniversary of his death. I take a few pictures and remember a few songs. An unusual way to end a day exploring Henley South's natural features, but certainly a memorable one.
This is an easy walk which is quite suitable for families and seniors with public toilets, shelter, parking and other facilities nearby. It is dog friendly.