Greater Crested Tern on Sydney beach

Greater crested tern on Sydney beach

I walk along the path that follows low cliffs and look out over the sparkling bay. Yachts and motorboats bounce across white peaks at various speeds while the stationary smaller boats of amateur fishermen bob in their wakes. On the other side are large ocean-facing residences of the more fortunate dotted across leafy suburbs. Behind me is a thick fence of native vegetation that separates backyards and houses from this busy,. public path. I smell the salt air coming in with the breeze; grass and eucalyptus from the gardens; and just the tiniest hint of city oil that I always sense in Sydney’s air. 

I walk down a steep slope to ocean level where there is a rock pool. It is a rectangular public swimming pool on the ocean’s edge created by humans but carved into the natural rocks with water supplied directly by the waves. These types of pools can be found up and down the coast and I’ve known them all my life, but have only recently learned that globally they are unique. I take off my shoes and tread carefully around the pool on the stones and gritty shells until I reach a more comfortable sandy area.

There is a flock of white ocean birds resting just out of reach of the foamy, crashing waves. I had first thought they were regular seagulls, but now I see they have wild, black crests and long yellow beaks. They are very relaxed. As people wander into their comfort zones, they shuffle out of their reach but not in any particular hurry. Some hold their mouths open to allow the sea wind to flow into their bodies.

Greater Crested Tern on Sydney beach - Oil on canvas - 45cm x 45 cm
Greater crested tern. Oil on canvas. 40cm x 40cm.

Leave a Reply