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 August 1st 2021
Nankeen Kestrels are one of the most common birds found in urban areas especially along the coastal fringe. This bird is perched high in one of the massive Norfolk Island Pines that run along Lady Gowrie Drive in Taperoo. These beautiful, little raptors can often be seen hovering above the scrub searching for small animals such as lizards, mice, ground-dwelling birds and even juvenile snakes.
I am enjoying an afternoon stroll along the Taperoo Dunes Walk between Largs Bay and North Haven. The area runs along a spacious car parking zone and there are several walkways down to the beach which transect the dunes. This area has been well cared for by a volunteer group and numerous signs explain the nature of sand dune environments, as well as highlighting the endemic wildlife and plants.
After photographing the kestrel, I take a preliminary stroll along the main pathway which provides excellent viewing into the complex ecosystem of shrubs, grasses and ground covers. I can hear a variety of birds calls and after a few patient pauses, I glimpse of a Singing Honeyeater perching on a bush. These lovely little birds are easy to spot as they often sit on a bare branch at the top of a tree or shrub to sing; probably a way to mark out territory or attract a mate.
One of the information signs shows Painted Lady Butterflies are found in the area. It is early winter and most invertebrates have disappeared but I have caught sight of both Cabbage Whites and one Monarch so there is a possibility of spotting this species. On the corner of a pathway to the beach, there is a sizeable gum tree and perched on a dead leaf is a Painted Lady. An improbable but welcome find as I like to only use images taken at the location wherever possible.
Perhaps the most commonly sighted bird species in this area is the Spotted Dove. Despite the paucity of food these versatile little birds always seem to locate some seed or other plant material on the sandy ground or in the leaf litter. However, like all the ground-dwelling species they keep a wary eye open for the kestrels and foxes that are the apex predators in the dunes.
My walk is almost at an end when I notice a Willy Wagtail sitting on a fencepost while an Australian Magpie forages on the ground nearby. They are what I call the 'Usual Suspects' and include Sparrows, Starlings, Noisy Miners and Silver Gulls; the common but equally interesting wildlife found in and around the dunes. I take a few shots of these birds then head back to the car and lunch at The Largs Pier Hotel ... a fitting end to my walk around the dunes.
Additional notes This is an easy walk which is quite suitable for families and seniors with ample parking, nearby public toilets, hotel and kiosk at Largs jetty. There is a children's playground opposite and it is dog-friendly.