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 June 2nd 2019
Dam Good Wildlife
The Koala is balanced precariously between two branches then reaches up to grab a handful of leaves to munch on. Handful is really an accurate term in this context as koalas have hands that are equal to those of primates as far as grasping and climbing go. Unlike us they have two opposable thumbs. One of those evolutionary parallels like bats' wings and fish that walk on mud.
I am walking around Wynne Vale Dam one of Tea Tree Gully's many wetland areas just off Golden Grove Road. The area really is a naturalists' hotspot with tall trees fringing the dam, reeds along some of the banks and a tangle of old dead trees on the bank opposite a viewing platform that sits above the water on the southern edge. Numerous signs around the little lake explain how it cleanses stormwater and other runoff as well as providing a habitat for a wide range of aquatic and terrestrial species. The walking track, car park, toilets and community gardens on the southern side make this a highly accessible and wonderful resource for people of all ages and capabilities.
Leaving the gumleaf gourmet to its eucalyptus meal I continue my stroll around the dam. The tangle of dead branches and willow trees on the far side of the water are a wonderful habitat for birds and I am not disappointed. Two greater cormorants are perched on a protruding limb, perfectly silhouetted against the water.
It has been a dry summer and the last week has been rather warm which can induce 'critters' that hibernate through the cooler months to come out for a spell in the sun. I use the long lens to search the branches that are close to the water and my thoughts are confirmed. A lone short-necked turtle is basking in the sun. As the temperature drops it will retire to the water to see out the winter months buried in mud and other detritus on the bottom of the dam.
On the northern edge of the lake there is a thick growth of acacia bushes overshadowed by tall red gums. It is here that I catch sight of a sulphur crested cockatoo preening and cleaning its claws. As I watch the bird a flock of the noisy parrots descend on the trees; perhaps to feed on the acacias when I leave.
The last part of the trail takes me across the earthen dam which has a wonderful avenue of gums overhanging it. The water is below me and I have a clear view across the lake. As a final gesture nature provides a reminder of continuity and beauty as a mother Pacific black duck leads her squadron of a dozen chicks across the water towards the shelter of a reed-bed.