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 January 6th 2021
Hikers and Bikers
The start of the walk is not particularly steep and there are several trails to choose from. I decided to walk along the track that follows a creek bed dominated by huge River Gums. Their trunks, bark and branches are often home to a wide variety of animals. I was not disappointed. There were Red Wattle Birds and Common Bronzewing Pigeons resting in the foliage.
Off to my right, near the fire track, where the path takes an even gentler route, I could see a mixed flock of Spotted Doves and Crested Pigeons circling some Almond Trees still in blossom. The birds settled in the branches and I managed to get a long shot. The contrasting shapes and colours of the blossom, sky and birds made for an interesting image.
I was exploring Randall Park Reserve, which is part of the Mitcham Trails complex - a series of walking, bike riding and conservation areas in the foothills. There are approximately 40 kms of shared-use tracks in 4 different zones, all cared for by the City of Mitcham. Randall Park is in Zone 1. Signs at trailheads indicate the degrees of difficulty and whether a particular trail is to be shared by hikers, bikers or both.
As my easy walk alongside the creek 'petered out' I took a more rugged and steeper trail called the Randall Cross Over, which winds past an old quarry. Cicadas chirping and birdsong accompanied my walk and I searched the scrub for the vocalists. I did not spot any cicadas but there were some grasshoppers in the long grass and hiding amongst the shrubs and on the bark of trees. Numerous species of locusts and grasshoppers are found in this area and these appear to be Bark-mimicking Grasshoppers.
Near the old quarry, there is a narrow track called Kay's Trail, which is marked as a walking-only path. It cuts across the hillside and ends at a fire break trail, which leads back to my starting position. The rugged nature of this path makes it ideal for encountering wildlife as well as providing some spectacular views of the city and coastal plain.
There are Miner Birds, Adelaide Rosellas, Magpies and tiny Silvereyes in the trees but it is a Black-faced Cuckoo Shrike that caught my attention. Perched on a dead limb with the blue sky in the background, it made for an ideal wildlife image.
Kay's Trail exits onto the broad fire track which sweeps back down the hillside. It is easy walking and there are plenty of panoramic views, native plants and animals to keep one interested. Rustling undergrowth suggests reptiles, small birds or even an Echidna, which other walkers have told me are not uncommon in this area. I kept a sharp lookout for Shingleback, Bearded Dragon and Bluetongue lizards and even the possibility of a snake but today no reptiles 'come out to play' and my final images were of a Red Wattle Bird and a beautiful Meadow Argus butterfly.