I had just finished the steep descent from Heathcote Station to Karloo Pools when a solitary, playful rock warbler flitted out and landed a few feet away – the first of its kind that I had ever seen.
Playful, and obviously used to humans, he had swooped on a piece of cheese that had fallen out of my wrap. It was a rare privilege to observe such a small, elegant bird up close and for so long (putting aside the ethics of feeding cheese to a native bird, albeit unintentionally).
He was bold, though as soon as I made any movement he flew back a couple of metres, trilling a warning song. Forested hill sides rose up from the water’s edge, towards a sky half covered by cloud, half covered by blue. I had Karloo Pools all to myself that day – just me, the rock warbler and then a crow passing silently overhead.