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 December 14th 2015
Rare birds on the beach
There is a patch of dense scrub where the bridge meets the sand hills on the far side of the river. A singing honeyeater is perched on the top of coastal wattle chirping away; either to announce his territorial boundaries or attract a mate.
The bridge runs from Weatherald Terrace across the Onkaparinga then transitions into a boardwalk that extends to the Southport Surf Life Saving Club. From here, it is a short walk down to the beach which provides access to walking trails that snake through the dunes back to Port Noarlunga. This picturesque area is a wonderful complex of beach, dune and river that provides a myriad of habitats for wildlife, a quality surf break and fine estuary fishing.
From the SLSC building it is a short walk down to the beach where I am looking for a specific kind of rare, coastal bird. Hooded plovers are listed as vulnerable in Australia with only a predicted 800 birds living in South Australia. These lovely little shore birds nest along sandy shorelines and their simple nests are easily destroyed by human activities.
Positioning myself at the far end of the beach, half tucked into a dune and cradling my camera, I spot a pair feeding along the intertidal zone. They are mixed in with several different kinds of small waders that commonly feed on the beach such as dotterels, sandpipers and sanderlings.
It has taken a couple of hours to find my little plovers and during that time the afternoon sea breeze has strengthened lifting the surf and bringing in a low cover of clouds. Flights of gulls are moving north along the coast heading for their evening roosting areas. On the beach a couple of surfers are taking advantage of the swell while on the edge of the dunes little red capped dotterels are bedding down for the night.
As I walk back across the bridge, the sun is setting behind the dunes bathing the estuary in a soft orange glow that accentuates the grey foliage of the coastal vegetation. My next stop will be Port Noarlunga only five minutes drive back along the river where I will finish my afternoon with a wonderful meal at Ampikas Thai restaurant on the sea front by the iconic jetty and reef.