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.
Visit my blog naturallysouthaustralia.com
Published May 2nd 2020
Prospecting for Wildlife
There is a Blackbird fossicking amongst the leaf litter that blankets the ground under a flowering gum. The bright yellow beak and ring around its eye combined with plumage, that is completely black, denotes it as a male. The females are a uniform dull brown. Other birds including Red Wattlebirds, New Holland Honeyeaters and Mudlarks are also in the trees, but they are wary and hard to photograph on this rather overcast morning.
I am sitting in the Ern Sconce Rotary Park one of the many green spaces in the suburb of Prospect, on the city's northern fringe. In these days of social distancing and isolation, it is worth thinking about exploring your own suburb and discovering some of the wildlife delights that it may hold. Your local streets and gardens are home to a surprising number of animals. Check out a map or street directory, search online using your suburb with the keywords parks and recreation, or use Google Earth. The number of green spaces in the area may surprise you.
Later in the day when the sun has burnt off some of the morning clouds, I walk to the Soldiers Memorial Gardens behind the North Adelaide oval. There is a community garden, children's playground, tennis courts and toilets in this area. The combination of lawn, trees and shrubs makes it an ideal area to encounter a wide range of species. Some Noisy Miners are feeding on a late-blooming Bottlebrush tree and small wasps are crawling around of the furry foliage of some ground covers. There are thousands of species of native wasps and these are probably one of the spider hunting variety.
My final destination on this 'Tour de Prospect' is Saint Helens Park on Prospect Road near Blackfriars College. It is an open grassed area with some very old gums towering over most of the park. There are several rose gardens and an ancient carob tree as well as the rather lovely St Helens House, opposite.
Like roses attract aphids, the massive eucalypts attract their fair share of animals and today is no exception. There are Rainbow Lorikeets and Musk Lorikeets high in the canopy and a pair of Galahs are sitting by a hollow branch. These birds are shrouded by shadows and just out of reasonable camera range. Magpies and Ibises are strutting around the lawns but I want something a little more unusual to round off my walk around Prospect.
With this in mind, I take a look at the gums from a different perspective. Some of the trees are shedding significant amounts of bark and I start to peel a little off to see what kinds of animals are living in this micro-habitat. Initially, I find several earwigs, a cockroach and a colony of termites but later I discover a lovely Marbled Gecko. The little lizard holds still for just long enough to snap a shot before it scuttles back under some bark to resume its daytime nap.
My walk has been productive, healthy and local. All the bases we need to touch in these unusual times.
Enjoy your own suburb and let me know how you go.
Additional notes This is an easy walk/drive which is quite suitable for families and seniors with public toilets, barbecues, parking and other facilities nearby. It is dog friendly.