So it’s been a week since I upped sticks and moved myself to Sydney on a working holiday visa. Well, technically it’s been a week and a half, but the first few days don’t count as I was recovering from the jet-lag! It started off hot, but in recent days we’ve had some heavy downpours, and the temperature is feeling a lot more comfortable.
As far as exploring goes, I’m yet to venture out of the city, but there are plenty of things to do, and places to explore in the metropolitan area of Sydney. The much recommended Coogee to Bondi coastal walk was a highlight, with great views across the Tasman Sea. I didn’t come across a huge amount of wildlife, with Superb Fairywrens and the ubiquitous Silver Gulls not having a patch on the coastal landscape.
Sydney has a good array of parks and green spaces, only a few of which I have visited so far. It’s much like any large European or North American city, and there are many species that remind me of home, such as feral pigeons, or London plane trees lining certain streets. But when you’re on the other side of the world, you expect some differences, of which there are plenty!
The most notable difference in the wildlife in Sydney is the birdlife. Yes, you can see introduced ring-necked parakeets in London nowadays, but so far I’ve counted five different species of native parrot here. Victoria Park is home to Galahs and Little Corellas, which are two small species of cockatoo. Galahs are a lovely pink colour, while corellas are white. Huge Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoos make their home in Centennial Park, and are easily approached as they expertly extract seeds from pine-cones. Centennial Park is well worth a visit just to see such impressive birds. The fourth species of cockatoo I’ve come across is the Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo, which forms noisy flocks that can’t be missed when flying around the Royal Botanic Garden. The fifth and final species of parrot I’ve come across is by far the most colourful, which is obvious when you learn their common name. Rainbow Lorikeets are small noisy parrots with a beautiful array of colours, and are common in the Royal Botanic Garden as well as Hyde Park.
If you thought it was just the presence of parrots that was different then you’d be very much mistaken. Australia is the only country I’ve been to where it’s easy to see wading birds in a major urban centre. Masked Lapwings are a striking species of plover with conspicuous yellow wattles, that are easily approached in the Royal Botanic Garden. The Australian Ibis is a very common bird, and has rather unfortunately gained the nickname of “bin chicken” for its habit of eating directly out of the garbage. The large black and white birds are at first a novelty, but soon become an everyday sight, although I feel they deserve a little more respect than their nickname suggests. There are various species of duck found in the parks, with Australian Wood Duck present in the Royal Botanic Garden, Hardheads (a relative of the pochard) found in Victoria Park, and Pacific Black Ducks (that look like mallards with makeup) found in any park with a pond.
Mammals are present in Sydney, although I haven’t had a huge amount of luck finding them yet. Flying Foxes are bats that make for a really spectacular sight just before dusk, as they leave their daytime roost in search of fruit to eat. The only other mammal I’ve seen is a species of Possum that I couldn’t identify, as I could only see its back as it slept in the crevice of a tree. There was a large amount of fruit placed nearby, so it stands to reason that someone is regularly feeding possums along the main route through the centre of Hyde Park, so this is probably the best place to go if you want to see one.
I’ve not been here long, and I’ve got plenty of exploring to do yet, but I hope this gives you an insight into the wildlife you can easily see around Sydney. Hopefully in the future I’ll be able to unearth some great wildlife havens around Sydney and as I travel around Australia.