One of the best places for birding near my home is the Laratinga Wetlands on the eastern edge of Mt Barker in the Adelaide Hills, South Australia. It is just over a half hour drive from my home. I have featured birds from this spot on a number of occasions in the past – you can access them by using the search facility above.
While these wetlands are actually the sewage treatment works for the town of Mt Barker, the area is very pleasant and well landscaped. The treated water comes out in the final pond as reusable for local irrigation purposes. The various ponds have wide, flat walking and cycling tracks around them with plenty of seats to rest and just watch the birds. Hundreds of nearby resident use these paths daily for walking, jogging or cycling and many of them also use the barbecue and picnic facilities.
I’m not going to write about the many birds seen here; I will keep that for the coming days. Instead, I am just going to show some photos taken on a recent visit.
On my visit to the Laratinga Wetlands last week I saw several Purple Swamphens.
The individual featured in today’s photos show one that was quite unafraid of me and allowed me to approach to within a few metres. These wetlands attract many visitors daily: walkers, cyclists, runners, picnickers, photographers and avid birders like myself. So, taking that into account the birds are quite used to the human traffic on the paths around the wetlands.
It the photo above the bird is busy doing his early morning preening. In the subsequent photo shown below the bird seems to be asking whether his feathers look okay. I love getting special bird poses like this one.
How’s the serenity?
Most Australians will recognise that quote from the laconic Aussie movie “The Castle“.
It sure is a scene filled with serenity, early one frosty morning last week. The photos in today’s post were taken at the Laratinga Wetlands just east of Mt Barker in the Adelaide Hills. A series of ponds make up this wonderful birding and picnic spot. While one could perhaps buy a lovely home overlooking this spot, or within a few minutes’ walk, I really have to burst your bubble or shatter your dream.
The ponds make up the local town’s sewage works!
In reality, it is far, far better than it sounds. First, there is no smell. None. Second, the environment has been wonderfully landscaped with Australian native trees, bushes and ground cover plants. Third, the local authorities have created a lawned picnic area complete with shelter sheds – it rains quite often in Mt Barker – and well kept, clean toilets. The tracks around each of the ponds are used daily by hundreds of locals and visitors like myself for photography, walking, cycling, running or just birding. The birdlife is always abundant and interesting.
The photo below shows just one of the many birds I saw there last week, a Eurasian Coot. The other photos below show one of the ponds shrouded in early morning misty fog.
Earlier in the week my wife had several appointments in Mt Barker which is about half way between home here in Murray Bridge and Adelaide. Her appointments were to take several hours, so took the opportunity to visit the Laratinga Wetlands on the eastern edge of Mt Barker.
The Laratinga Wetlands consist of a series of ponds which essentially deal with the town’s sewage and storm water. The treated water is later recycled into local agricultural use. The series of large ponds which make up the wetlands have been landscaped with both plants and lawns. A picnic area is provided for the public, including barbecues and toilets. Many local people and visitors use these facilities and the tracks around the ponds are popular with birders, walkers, runners, and cyclists.
Over coming days I will share some of the bird photos I took on my most recent visit. Today’s photos show a female Galah sunning itself on the trunk of one of the huge eucalypt trees surrounding the wetlands. I know that this one is a female because of the red eye. Meanwhile, I presume that the male is busy in the hollow below her, cleaning out the hollow and preparing it for nesting later in the season.
On a recent trip to Adelaide I was delighted to see two Wedge-tailed Eagles soaring high over the freeway near Mt Barker. I have driven this route many hundreds of times over the last twenty five years but this is the first time I’ve seen this species while using the freeway.
This sighting was just north of the golf course and the Laratinga Wetlands area on the eastern edge of town. It is good to see that this species is surviving in an area of the Mt Lofty Ranges that is rapidly becoming swallowed by suburbia. Several thousand houses have been built in this area over the last decade.
I didn’t have my camera with me at the time. Moreover, I couldn’t legally stop at that point anyway. Instead I have included a photo of a captive Wedge-tailed Eagle taken by my son Sim’ at Healesville Sanctuary in Victoria.