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Thorndon Park Reserve's Wildlife and Walking Trails

Home > Adelaide > Animals and Wildlife | Parks | Picnic Spots | 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 November 5th 2017
Dam fine walk
If I look carefully I can just make out the shape of a little black bird hiding amongst the reeds. Closer examination through the long lens reveals it as a purple swamp hen chick and I quickly scan the area for the adult birds. These beautifully coloured birds, the largest of the rail family, are common around the rivers and wetlands near Adelaide.

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Purple swamp hen chick


Today I am waking around the Thorndon Park Reserve just off Gorge Road in the suburb of Paradise. The park was once the site of a major reservoir established in 1860 to supply Adelaide. It has more recently been developed as a recreation park featuring a series of small lakes, wetlands, walking/bike trails and extensive grassed areas surrounded by native plantings. In addition, sheltered areas, toilets, free barbecues, a children's playground and a weekend kiosk add a family dimension to this lovely park.

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Wetland walk


After watching the swamp hen chick for a while, I wander down the gravel pathway that is designated as a "Nature Walk'. It circumnavigates a little island and there are numerous signs providing information about local plants and animals. Several large eucalyptus trees stretch out over the water and I spot a clump of spitfire grubs clumped on one of the trunks. The somewhat unpleasant little beasties are capable of expelling a stinging fluid if disturbed... hence the name. They are actually the larvae of sawflies, a common wasp-like insect.

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Spitfire grubs


The thick bushes along the path are full of colourful little new Holland honeyeaters that twitter and chirp as they fly between blossoming shrubs. In the understory, I can also hear the higher pitch of blue wrens though I only catch a fleeting glimpse of one bird. Today I am more focussed on species that live around the water and from the vantage point of a strategically placed bench, I get a fine view of a black-tailed native hen and a masked lapwing foraging on the grassy edge of the lake.

South Australian wildlife, South Australian tourism, Wildlife photography Wildlife stories, Australian birds, Thorndon Park, masked lapwing, black tailed native hen
Masked lapwing and black tailed native hen


With my walk almost complete, I return to the reed beds where I saw the swamphen chick. Several metres away there is a low stone wall alongside a small waterfall and one of the parent birds is entering the adjacent pond. Nearby a freshwater turtle swims by - a nice little wildlife cameo to end a relaxing day in the park.

South Australian wildlife, South Australian tourism, Wildlife photography Wildlife stories, Australian birds, Thorndon Park, freshwater turtle
Freshwater turtle


South Australian wildlife, South Australian tourism, Wildlife photography Wildlife stories, Australian birds, Thorndon Park
Stepping out


Footnote: this destination is well suited for seniors and families as it provides a safe not too strenuous walk with nearby toilets/ playgrounds/wheel chair accessibility/ food outlets.
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Why? Easily accessible wildlife and picnic area
When: All year round
Cost: None
Your Comment
What a beautiful place! It sounds fantastic
by Jay Johnson (score: 2|963) 10 days ago
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