You don’t have to live in a tropical rainforest to find critters (although it helps). Some of the most amazing creatures I’ve come across have turned up in some of the most densely-populated and built-up areas in Sydney. There are plenty of rewards to be had for a little bit of looking around. This page shows a few of my recent favourites.
Nature-spotting in the suburbs
The two most remarkable insects I have seen were both in some of the most heavily-populated parts of Sydney. The stick insect shown above, probably a Titan stick insect, was in a busy Eastern Suburbs shopping centre in the middle of the day. There were hundreds of people around, yet no one noticed this remarkable creature clinging to a bare wall until I walked up to it.
The only other Titan I’ve ever found was even bigger than this one. That’s it in the picture at right. It was in Sydney’s northern beaches suburb of Dee Why. Dee Why is one of the most heavily populated regions in Sydney. It is a high-density suburb made up largely of shops and home unit blocks. This insect fell out of a tree surrounded by blocks of flats. It was about as long as an adult’s arm.
This very large moth (photo at right) flew into a window and landed on a bookshelf in a terrace house near Sydney’s Kings Cross district one night. Kings Cross is known for its night life but I never assumed that night life included something like this.
Perhaps the most beautiful jumping spider I’ve ever found (shown at right) turned up briefly in another home unit complex, this time in the Epping area of Sydney. Luckily I had my camera with me so I took a few quick shots before it returned to its hiding place.
Jumping spiders are cute, harmless and often beautifully patterned. What’s not to love about them? With their big front eyes they are quick to turn around and investigate moving things, and are just as likely to jump onto them. These little guys will spend all day looking for the kinds of things you don’t want in your house, like mosquitoes. I often see a jumping spider wandering around in the room where I work and I enjoy having them around!
From the beautiful to the bizarre. This type of Deinopis spider (right) was common in the inner-city courtyard at the back of the place where I lived. Sometimes called the ‘Ogre-faced spider’ for its unusual features, these harmless creatures are quite large but beautifully camouflaged and so most people would never knew they were around.
I didn’t expect to find frogs in the courtyards of the inner-city terraces. This one, a Striped Marsh Frog, was under a water heater in Darlinghurst, near Kings Cross.
I could fill a lot more pages than this with photos of the kind of critters you might find in even the most built-up areas. For example, I remember waiting for a train one day, at Waverton station close to the CBD of Sydney. The commuters looked bored like they always did but I was fascinated. Because behind them, inches away there was a wall crawling with literally thousands of millipedes, beautifully camouflaged. I’ve never seen such astonishing numbers of them (millipedes, not commuters). The funny thing is, a lot of the commuters would have been horrified to know they were standing so close to so much invertbrate action. But then most people don’t look carefully enough.
I often used to watch rats scampering around the train lines in Sydney’s Central Station too. They tended to be completely covered in the grey dust that surrounds the train tracks so they blended in almost perfectly with the environment. I never saw anyone else notice them, despite them being only a few feet away. But anyone with average eyesight would have been able to see them.
If they looked.