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 September 13th 2016
Dive, Walk and Dine
It is early in the year to put on my mask, flippers and wetsuit but the weather has been calm and I'm willing to give it a try. As I swim out over the shallow rock pools and beds of algae I can see a variety of small fish darting for cover. One large horseshoe leatherjacket ignores me and swims casually away over the broken bottom. Over the next twenty minutes I spot half a dozen more species of fish including a fiddler ray and some magpie perch.
I have driven down to Marino Rocks for dinner at the local cafe, one of my favourite seafood destinations in Adelaide, not just because of the fine food but also the wonderful ocean and shoreline views. Before meeting friends I am working up an appetite with a swim, a look at some of the interesting coastal geology then a cliff top walk to Seacliff and back.
With my snorkeling gear packed away and after a brisk towel down I set off on a path that follows the shoreline from Marino rocks and ends near the Seacliff SLSC. The return journey takes about an hour and provides access to a range of environments from rock pools and beach to coastal scrub.
At this time of day there are small groups of common silver gulls heading up the coast towards roosting sites. Some fly below the path just above the rocky beach while others are in tight formations that seem to mirror the rooflines of the upmarket cliff-top homes that overlook this part of the coast.
The coastal vegetation along the walkway attracts a variety of bird species. In the first few hundred metres I hear singing honeyeaters, catch a glimpse of some wattle birds feeding in a garden adjacent to the trail. In the yard of one home I can see a pair of energetic wagtails harassing a resident's cat that has come too close to their territory. Further out to sea there is a lone pelican taking off and a group of terns are diving into the water in search of small surface living fish.
Butterfly on oxalis...one of many white varieties found along the coast
After walking down to the beach at Seacliff I set off back along the track and focus on searching for smaller animals on the return journey. In a patch of oxalis growing by the cliff top a beautiful white butterfly lands and starts to extract nectar from the plant with its long proboscis.
With the walk over my attention turns to food and I have booked a table on the upper floor of the restaurant in order to keep an eye open for the dolphin pods that are common out on the bay. Somewhat full after a wonderful seafood platter and cheesecake dessert I head back to the car. But nature has one last card to play and there, perched on my tyre, is a large praying mantis. So much for silently creeping through the undergrowth to get an interesting wildlife shot.