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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is an easy walk that is quite suitable for families and seniors. It is dog friendly.