Saturday, September 5, 2009

Barren Grounds

Last weekend the plan had been to go for some camping, but with the outlook of strong winds and potential showers we decided to hedge our bets and not plan too far in advance. A wet and windy start to the Saturday called off the camping - guess the Magna will stay packed till next time :-) We had an excellent day down town Sydney again. But decided to get out for a bit of excitement if possible Sunday.

Sunday morning we headed towards Barren Grounds Nature Reserve. A heathland plateau just west of Kiama, south west of Wollongong, a hotspot for Eastern Bristlebird and wildflowers. Driving down south we soon realized that it was probably not going to be a super duper birding day, it was all sunny and lovely, but so windy that no sane birds would be out and about.

Did not matter so much, we were up for a bit of walking and there is always something going on when you get your lazy bum of the chair and into some good quality Australian nature. This time we were up for a real treat! Walking down the path one of us in each rut, we suddenly heard a bird calling behind us, I pulled the Bigma up turned around and took a step back in the direction we had just come from and was immediately greeted with a chilling hiss of a good sized snake lying on the path just in between where we had pasted few seconds ago. The snake most have decided to stay put while we passed, but obviously felt threatened when I decided to return, not only was it hissing, but had also taken the good old cobra position - head high and ready to strike less than a meter from my foot!

Well well, obviously the snake wanted me to stop so why not - I hit the brakes and the snake decided it was happy and started crawling into the scrub. Having the camera ready I managed to get a few pictures before our little friend vanished. According to the NPWS Atlas of NSW wildlife there should only be Tiger Snakes and Red-bellied black snakes at Barren Grounds, but looking through my snake book I would have guessed it was a Highlands Copperhead ... any thoughts are welcome.

Needless to say that we did keep a close eye at the path for the rest of the walk :-) The walk was actually much better than expected. Lots of wildflowers in bloom, vistas and a great bit of very different nature just a good solid stone throw south of Sydney.


Iain said...

Chuff me mate. You don't want to go annoying the old snakes! Looks like a Red-bellied Black to me although, I admit, its belly ain't all that red.

Iain said...

My mistake. When you zoom in you can see his stripy lips. I concur on the Copperhead chat. Still not the creature you want to upset too much!