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 October 31st 2018
A Rocky Day at West Lakes
There is a scattering of fishers working the rock wall at the end of the lake; parents teaching their children the mysteries of rod and reel and some serious anglers casting for jewfish and bream. A lone pelican is patrolling the area looking for smaller fish and the chance of some discarded bait.
I am exploring Inlet Reserve at the southern end of West Lakes on the corner of Trimmer Parade and Military Road. This little park is quite a unique setting encompassing a number of different ecological niches in one small area. There is a small patch of bushes and trees, extensive grassed areas, local gardens, the rocky breakwater and of course the saltwater lake itself. Beneath the water, a series of artificial reefs have been constructed to attract marine life.
A few minutes later the pelican is joined by a pied cormorant. These birds are superb aquatic hunters with eyes that function underwater, webbed feet for paddling and a fierce hooked beak with tooth-like serrations to grip slippery prey. The cormorant fishes along the edge of the rocks making continuous dives which last about 30 seconds before re-surfacing.
There are many other common birds in the gardens, bushes and parkland that surround the reserve including; silver gulls, wagtails, magpies and singing honeyeaters. However, it is some of the less noticeable marine inhabitants of this area that catch my attention. Numerous species of molluscs cling to the rocks and I can see a sizeable jellyfish drifting over a bed of seagrass. Much to my surprise several laterally striped ornate cowfish appear close to the surface frantically swimming close to each other. Some appear to be more brightly coloured suggesting mating behaviour.
After walking along the banks of the lake, exploring the rocks, gardens and bushes it is time for a bite to eat which brings me to another of the little park's attractions. A sheltered area with gas barbecues and a children's playground is just a few metres from the rocks. Some tasty gourmet sausages purchased at a nearby butchers and a little salad make a perfect ending to my day at Inlet Reserve.