“But as they say about sharks, it’s not the ones you see that you have to worry about, it’s the ones you don’t see….
One morning recently, I received a phone call from my friend who said “Jimmy, grab your camera and come over here, I have a school of sharks feeding on bait fish just out the front.
Wow! what a sight, I used to kayak in these waters and never sighted a shark, I sometimes felt a bump on the bottom of my kayak, especially in the canals but nothing more. These were Bull sharks and they were swimming and hunting bait fish in knee high water. I was intrigued to watch how the pups (younger sharks) stayed up one end whilst the larger sharks acted like sheep/cattle dogs and herded the school of bait fish and drove them to the waiting hungry pups. They would then fan out and collect the bait fish that had escaped bringing them back together in a tight school before herding them back in the opposite direction to the waiting pups. This went on for more than an hour.
The Bull shark is not indigenous to Australia as a similar species can be found in Zambia and is known as “The Zambi”, also in Lake Nicaragua where it is known as the “Lake Nicaragua shark” and probably a lot of other places. It is quite unusual in that it has the ability to survive in brackish water and therefore can be found quite away upstream in rivers, e.g. in the United States, they have been known to have travelled up the Mississippi River some 1100 km from the ocean.
This shark is stocky in build and grows to a length of 3.4 m in coastal open water but considerably smaller in rivers and estuaries where they are recorded as growing to 2.25 m depending on sex. They have a bluntly rounded snout and small yellow eyes. Their colour ranges from pale to very dark grey with white underbelly.
The big question is…..Are they man-eaters? Well!….. they are extremely aggressive and can justifiably claim to be the world’s most dangerous shark and probably responsible for more deaths than they are credited for, particularly in shallow warm coastal waters, estuaries and rivers. As you can see in the above photographs, these shark are very close to the shore and in knee high water. The larger sharks would have been at least 2 m long. There appears to be a myth out there that sharks only feed at dawn and dusk. I can tell you that these sharks were filling their bellies around 11.30 in the morning, so I for one wouldn’t like to test that theory. On the positive side, there is a lot of water between sharks, so the chances of being attacked is quite minimal.
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“My wish is to stay always like this, living quietly in a corner of nature…..Claude Monet.”
“Adapt the pace of nature, her secret is patience.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
I’m still trying to make up my mind as to whether the Tawnys’ are ugly or exotically beautiful but whatever, they are certainly unusual.
These nocturnal birds which are native to mainland Australia and Tasmania are often mistaken for an owl but are in fact more closely related to the Nightjar. They are stocky and compact with rounded wings and short legs and generally weigh between 157 – 555 grams and measure 34 -53 cm. Their bills are hooked at the tip and topped with distinctive tufts. They have large yellow eyes similar to owls.
Are they dangerous? I have on occasions approached to within 50 cm or so without them showing any concern or aggression whatsoever, relying instead on their extremely good camouflage. I have come across them in parks and private gardens.
The birds mate for life and it is not unusual to see them roosting in pairs on low lying branches or in the fork of a tree.
If you happen to be in Australia, settling in for the night and hear this strange Oom -Oom – Oom grunting, it’s a safe bet that you have a Tawny Frogmouth or two in close proximity.
“A study in scarlet eh? Why shouldn’t we use a little art jargon? There’s the scarlet thread of murder running through the colourless skein of life, and our duty is to unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every inch of it.”…..Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes)
Did you know?
The color scarlet symbolizes courage, passion, force, joy and heat. In the earlier centuries, it was an expensive color that represented the upper classes of society and the wealthy. It is also a symbol of lust and sin, particularly prostitution and infidelity.
“Take a discovery walk to-day to find what’s missing in your life. There is peace in the whisper of the wind, hope in the sun smiling from behind the clouds, strength in every step forward. You can do it! “…..Toni Sorenson, The Great Brain Cleanse.
As we were staying at Bondi beach and without a vehicle, we hopped onto a bus which took us on a nice leisurely ride to Watson’s Bay. Being a long weekend we expected to find hordes of people as it is a very popular destination for day trippers. The Watson’s Bay Hotel was overflowing and the parkland and foreshore also had a number of families picnicking and enjoying themselves beside the bay. We found however, that only a few were attempting the walk and decided, due to it being such a beautiful day to increase our walk by adding the 4.5 km Watsons Bay Walk to the Federation Cliff Walk making it a total of 11 km.
If you look at the above photograph, you can see the start of the walk at the top between the white building on the left and the jetty. You then have a choice of whether you walk along the promenade beside the boats or along the beach or perhaps remove your shoes and paddle through the water. The photograph doesn’t lie, the water is very inviting.
What we are looking at in the above photograph is the southern headland of the entrance to Sydney Harbour. This landmark is known as The Gap. These majestic sandstone cliffs rise many metres above the sea. Unfortunately, as well as offering a truely panoramic vista across the Tasman sea, it also hides a dark and sinister secret. Many people unable to cope with life have chosen this spot to end it all by jumping to their death from the top of the cliffs.
The opposing headland visible at the top of the photograph is North Head, a very similar cliff-scape to South Head, mainly sandstone escarpments.
There’s nothing quite as raw as the sound of your footsteps on sandstone.
This walk between The Gap and Dover Heights (Federation Cliff Walk) is not long at 5 km, nor is it hard but it is worth the effort if only for the coastal views. If I was to do it again, I think I would take a bus from Dover Heights to Bondi Beach rather than walk, as this last 2 km wasn’t all that stirring except for the portion between Bondi North and Bondi Beach.
The above view was taken from North Bondi looking south and to the start of another alluring walk along the cliff tops to Coogee. Once we arrived at North Bondi, we knew our destination was close at hand. One more stop was made before completing our walk at the Adina Apartments and that was the Hotel Bondi where we enjoyed a refreshing, frothy, cold beer to celebrate our cliff walk.