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 September 6th 2016
Spring is in the air
The sulphur crested cockatoo seems to be having somewhat of a housing dilemma. It claws its way around the hole in the massive gum tree then hops in, turns, raises its crest and squawks loudly. A couple of other sulphurs alight in the branches above. The squawking reaches epic proportions then they all fly away; perhaps to consult with a 'parrot realtor' about locations or neighbours.
I am sitting in a parking area alongside Unity Park on South Terrace near the Pooraka Primary School, just off the Main North Road. Without even getting out of the car I have managed to observe half a dozen bird species, all in close proximity. For years I have driven past this park glancing briefly at the large concrete edged lake, fenced in children's playground and skate-park while not taking the time to walk in and do a little exploring. What a surprise when I did! Beyond the artificial lake are a series of wetlands with numerous paths, wonderful native shrub plantings and a plethora of wildlife habitats. It is also an 'off leash' dog area which adds to its family friendly status.
Before heading deeper into the park towards the water I decide to take a closer look at the tall eucalypts that run along the road just inside the pine log boundary fence. The cool weather is drawing to a close and I can hear the call of numerous parrots high in the trees as they prepare for spring and all its feeding and mating. High above me I spot a pair of galahs (rose breasted cockatoos) preening each other. Like the sulphur crests, they too will be on the lookout for nesting sites.
Like most invertebrates spiders and insects aren't particularly active during the cool winter months. But today, the sun is out and there are numerous dragonflies patrolling the edge of the water and quite a few stripy, little spiders skittering across any logs that are sitting out in the direct sunlight. They are probably searching for ants which are also starting to make an appearance as the temperatures start to lift.
The trails that loop around the back of the large artificial pool are carefully planted with a range of native shrubs which include a variety of spiny branched wattle, climbing hardenbergias, and purple native hibiscus. These in turn attract a variety of birds and insects that make walking through the park quite a wildlife adventure.
At the very back of the park a tall avenue of red gums catches my eye. The trees are very old and they have numerous holes, slits and cracks in their massive trunks and branches. These features provide ideal homes for a range of birds as well as possums, bats and small climbing lizards like geckos. Today they are also the focus of a pair of ravens who are gathering twigs and to enhance a large nest well hidden in the crown of one of the trees.
It seems that today's walk has been all about the coming season; nest building, flowers blooming and encouraging a mate. And on my walk back to the car the theme remains the same as I come across a pair of crested pigeons in full cuddle mode. Usually these wary birds fly off if I get too close but these two ignore me and continue celebrating the coming of spring.