Did you know that April is Children and Nature Awareness Month? Yesterday we signed up for the Great Outdoor Challenge, an event created by 5 Orange Potatoes as part of the US based Children and Nature Network’s efforts to inspire kids to get outdoors. We’ve done a few trips in the tinny in recent weeks but fur, feathers and foliage have been a little thin on the ground. So with the Great Outdoor Challenge in mind and a real incentive to get some photos, we headed down to Red Jacks Point on Port Hacking, where thankfully our luck improved.
After a doing a refreshing 20 knots from Deer Park where the no wash zone ends, we pulled up at Redman’s Point in very shallow water, only really suitable for a tinny or flat bottomed boat that is easy to launch from the sand. We switched off the engine and let the tinny drift across the sea grass beds whilst we finished off the CWA fruit cake from the Easter Show, washed down with a cup of tea from the thermos. Bliss.
We were shortly joined by half a dozen pelicans who were probably attracted by the fish that could also be seen jumping out of and near the surface of the water. Every now and then a cormorant popped its head up and I wondered if they were fishing cooperatively, something that is unique to the little black cormorant species. The pelicans swam around the tinny in a wide circle (probably eyeing Rhubarb with some caution) creating a kind of reverse amphitheatre with the performance on the outside and the audience floating in the middle. I filmed a short piece of footage of two of them paddling past which I can’t seem to load on the blog so will try and post on the facebook page. I love the way their tail ends bob up and down just slightly as they glide along. I’m always amazed at their ability to take off from the water, being such a large and heavy looking bird.
Tessa can recognise and identify pelicans but whilst this was being shot was more interested in ferreting out some cheese from the coolbag, as you can hear in the background of the footage. I have learned that an assortment of healthy snacks can do wonders for extending the range of short attention spans on boat trips.
I was also lucky enough to see a brown stingray cruising through the sea grass beds but unfortunately wasn’t quick enough to catch it on camera; sometimes you just have to focus on looking and observing and enjoy the moment. Although the sea grass beds look quite barren on first glance, I can assure you they host a whole ecosystem of plants and animals just waiting to be investigated with a snorkel (note to self to leave one permanently in the boat).
By now the tide had dropped a fair bit so we all hopped out and dragged the tinny across the shallows back to the main channel, (a good workout for the thighs) and headed over to a sand flat at Lilli Pilli where we all had a swim and Tessa was fascinated by the worm trails in the sand. These little signs of life on the surface of the beach reminded me of the outlines depicted in some of the aboriginal rock carvings that I’ve seen around Sydney.
To top off a superb autumn morning on the water we spotted the resident sea eagles circling over Grays Point. They were flying high on a thermal so the photo below is purely evidential! I’ll have to get a better zoom!