Bradleys Head is a bushland peninsula on the northern shore of Sydney Harbour. The flanks are well vegetated, while the tip of the peninsula contains picnic areas, historic fortifications and a naval memorial. A walking track runs around the shoreline, part of a network that circumnavigates the harbour.
For me the truly remarkable feature of Sydney Harbour is the way in which bushland and heritage have survived in the midst of intense urban development. A big part of the reason they’ve survived is that the bushland and heritage sites go hand in hand, with nineteenth century military fortifications on most of the harbour’s prominent headlands, places such as North Head, Dobroyd Head, Middle Head and Bradleys Head. The fortifications ensured that the headlands remained in public ownership, and once they were no longer needed for military purposes the bush grew back and they were transferred to various government authorities for conservation and recreational purposes. A century later and it is hard to imagine Sydney Harbour without its green headlands.
A walk with friends started at Taronga and headed to Chowder Bay via Bradleys Head. Right at the tip of Bradleys Head there was a group eight or nine Brush Turkeys. Two were in mature plumage and the rest appeared to be fully grown juveniles. The Brush Turkeys meandered around the picnic areas and fortifications, retreating into the large fig trees for a snooze in safety. It was a great example of wildlife treating highly modified landscapes as just so much more habitat.
Brush Turkeys have become a common sight across much of Sydney’s northern suburbs. Their mound nesting habits can make them unpopular, especially when every piece of loose vegetation and soil in a garden gets scrapped into a single large mound. It’s less of an issue win locations where they have access to a patches of bushland for mound construction.
Over the last twenty years the Brush Turkey population has expanded throughout the northern suburbs of Sydney. This was the first time I’d seen them on the edge of the harbour, and right out on the tip of the southernmost peninsula at that.
It will be fascinating to see how long it takes the Brush Turkeys to get across the harbour and move into the eastern and southern suburbs. They won’t be the only species of wildlife to march south as habitats and climate change over the coming decades.