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Reynella's Wetland Wildlife

Home > Adelaide > Animals and Wildlife | Outdoor | Photography | Walks
by Barry Silkstone (subscribe)
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 April 5th 2022
Wonderful wildlife wetland walk
Hoary-headed Grebe
Hoary-headed Grebe


Grebes are beautiful birds that seem to glide effortlessly across the water and then dive every so often to feed on snails and other aquatic invertebrates. In the wetlands and creeks around Adelaide, I most commonly encounter the diminutive Australasian Grebe and with this in mind that I zoom in on the little grey bird powering across the freshwater pool. Through the extreme magnification of my Nikon P900 I quickly identify this bird as a Hoary-headed Grebe; a species I have rarely encountered, let alone photographed.

Onkaparinga council, Wetlands, South Australian wildlife, South Australian tourism, Wildlife photography, Wildlife stories, nature,
Reynella East or Byards Road Wetland


I am walking around the Reynella East Wetlands or Byards Road Wetlands in the city of Onkaparinga. This is one of eighteen wetlands the city has built. They have many positive environmental and social benefits which range from providing animal habitats to improving water quality. This wetland consists of several large pools easily accessed by pathways.

Maned ducks, Onkaparinga council, Reynella Wetlands, South Australian wildlife, South Australian tourism, Wildlife photography, Wildlife stories, nature,
Maned Ducks a common species in most wetland habitats


The usual wetland birds are all around me. There are Maned and Pacific Ducks, Masked Lapwings near the water's edge and Swallows flying low sorties above the water as they hunt insects. However, today I'm going to spend my time hunting for more elusive species.

Black-fronted Dotterel, Onkaparinga council, Reynella Wetlands, South Australian wildlife, South Australian tourism, Wildlife photography, Wildlife stories, nature,
Black-fronted Dotterel


Black-tailed Native-hen, Onkaparinga council, Reynella Wetlands, South Australian wildlife, South Australian tourism, Wildlife photography, Wildlife stories, nature,
Black-tailed Native-hen


I find a place to sit that has substantial growths of reeds to use as cover with a clear view of the water and a muddy bank. It is now time to wait. Patience is rewarded. After a few minutes, a little plover-like bird breaks cover and starts to forage around the soft, muddy edge. It is a Black-fronted Dotterel. On the opposite bank, I recognise the shape of some Black-tailed Native-hens. Both species are far less common in other urban wetlands I have visited.

Blue Ringtail Damselfly, Onkaparinga council, Reynella Wetlands, South Australian wildlife, South Australian tourism, Wildlife photography, Wildlife stories, nature,
Blue Ringtail Damselfly


While I am watching the birds, an iridescent stick-like insect hovers above the water and then attaches itself to one of the reeds. I turn gently so as not to alarm the delicate little animal and focus the camera on my target which is only a couple of metres away. There is no need to dial in any macro- phase as the camera adjusts automatically. Later, I classify the insect as a Blue Ringtail Damselfly.

Onkaparinga council, Reynella Wetlands, South Australian wildlife, South Australian tourism, Wildlife photography, Wildlife stories, nature,
The wetlands are used by a wide range of people


There are a few people around walking their dogs and cycling along the paths and I chat to a few of them about the wildlife they have seen. There have been a few snake and lizard sightings and the odd early morning fox. One walker tells me that Koalas are sometimes seen in the tall gum trees around the wetlands.

Onkaparinga council, Reynella Wetlands, South Australian wildlife, South Australian tourism, Wildlife photography, Wildlife stories, nature,
A rich and diverse environment


This wetland is still quite new as it was only completed in 2013. This is my second visit and I will certainly return every year to see how it develops and hunt for new species to observe and photograph.

Additional notes
This is an easy walk that is quite suitable for families and seniors. It is dog friendly.
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Why? Great urban wildlife walk
When: All year round
Where: Off Bayards Road Reynella East
Cost: None
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