The city I live in has this wonderful wetlands area just a little east of the city centre. Known locally as “Baldwin Swamp”, the wetlands are home to a great many birds, lizards, insects, and other creatures. They also host a large colony of flying foxes (fruit bats). Its a terrific place to take photos.
Most of the paths through the area are well defined and well travelled. But, there are a few lesser tracks that lead deep into the swamp among towering trees festooned with hundreds of noisy fruit bats. Although you are only a few hundred meters from roads, and houses and factories, you could easily imagine that you are off in some swampy wilderness far from civilisation.
The bats often explode from their roosts in raucous groups and flap through the trees like flocks of mini pterodactyls. That, coupled with the thick bush, deep, algae-covered waterways, and fallen branches makes for a quite eerie environment. The bats, hanging upside down from the branches high above, seem to stare at you intently with a thousand eyes.
Every time I venture into one of these areas, my mind starts playing that great old Jim Stafford song, “Swamp Witch” (YouTube video below).
Black Water Hattie lived back in the swamp
where the strange green reptiles crawl.
Snakes hang thick in the cyprus treesl
ike sausage from a smokehouse wall.
Well the swamp is alive with a thousand eyes
an all of them watchin’ you,
So stay off the track to Hattie’s shack
n the back of the Black Bayou.
Walking down these tracks, with the song playing in my head, I always expect to see Hattie’s shack – or perhaps even Hattie herself – emerging from the deep dark woodland.
Which just goes to show, if you let your imagination run wild, you can have little adventures just around the corner from home. And it’s even more fun if you have a camera in your hand.
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