Having finished our week long road trip, which I have posted the last few weeks, we returned home with expectancy, hoping to see the return of the migratory waders, which had spent our winter months 12,000-14,000 km away in the Alaskan and Siberian regions of Northern Hemisphere. The forest birds which had spent winter in northern Australia and New Guinea are also returning. I was not sure what I would find, my first sightings were of this beautiful Superb fairy-wren which I quickly shot from my car window before it flew off, he is not a migrant but an all year round resident .
As I drove to my first observation area I heard this loud most unusual sound and stopped, to find Currawongs chasing this large bird, which finally rested in a tree nearby. To my surprise it was the notorious Channel-billed Cuckoo, which had returned from the north to hijack the nests of other birds and implant its eggs for them to raise their young. Currawongs are cleverer than most other birds and are very aware of this birds devious exploits. The Channel-billed Cuckoo is an immigrant, and is the largest of the Cuckoo family. Unfortunately the photo is not great as it was shot from some distance.
Another bird that has made it self known again recently by its call was the Red-whiskered Bulbul, having returned from New Guinea and south east Asian areas.
As I walked by the ponds in Oatley park I was drawn by the unique call of the Olive-backed Oriole. One lone bird rested in the shade continuing to call, but with no reply coming. It appears to be a male, looking for a female, and a beautiful specimen. This is another forest bird that has returned here for the summer from the tropics and above.
Above is a rather jerky video clip of the bird calling, but it gives an idea of how I identified its call and why I was drawn to it. We await the Dollarbird’s return to Oatley Park Reserve.
In my last post I featured Little Wattlebirds, here I caught a photo of a Red Wattlebird, you can see the red wattle, which is the small red protrusion on the side of its neck. In Tasmania there is a Yellow Wattlebird, which we hope to see in our visit there next year. He also is not a migrant.
As I surveyed the mudflats to find no waders, I did see this pair of Eastern Australian Magpies wandering about by the shore. The male has a distinct black and white plumage and the female has a less defined grey-brown. In this case she appears to be possibly immature, as she is still in her brown plumage and her eyes are not red yet. These birds are residents all year round and have been nesting recently.
Somewhat disappointed, I drove toward home, to a riverside beach where I get a really nice coffee and cake, and proceeded to sit viewing the ocean at low tide, as I sipped my coffee. I noticed these brownish birds far out wading in the shallows together. I thought, what brown birds do this? I looked again and saw long beaks. Yay! my waders are here! Leaving my coffee and cake I ran to the car and retrieved my camera and slowly made my way towards the small flock, which actually grew in number while I was there.
As I approached I could tell from the slightly curved up beak and the barring on the tail that these were my most amazing endurant bird, the Bar-tailed Godwit, which had traveled 8 days non stop 16,000 km across the Pacific Ocean just a few weeks ago., to be on this beach. WOW! I did try to get movie footage but without my tripod it was impossible at the distance, as these birds are very shy and take flight easily at human approach. The Bar-tailed Godwit is my Bird of the Week, so check out this special feature on my Bird of the Week Page.
As I got closer they eventually took flight to another part of the beach, but I was delighted I had seen my first migratory waders, back on the beach where I had unexpectedly seen them on previous occasions, as this beach normally has people swimming on it, but not today.
Leaving the beach I drove to my last mudflat for the morning before work where I saw and heard this Kookaburra call as I approached the reserve. Notice his tail is up, this was just after he was calling (laughing). He is another all year resident.
So he put on this very brief performance for me, which is quite rare to say the least, hence my shaking camera as it was very difficult to keep steady at the distance without support from where I was filming from. The greater the magnification, the greater the shake factor, especially with the steel and glass L series Canon 100-400mm lens.
On the mudflats at Oatley Park the only bird I saw was this lone Royal Spoonbill raking the water for food as the tide was going out in Lime Kiln Bay.
As you can see, this beauty is in breeding plumage with the beautiful head dress. If you look even closer at the second photo you will see another sign of breeding with a red dot on the forehead at the top of the bill. No other waders were seen. However, I was very pleased to find my Bar-tailed Godwits back on the beach on Riverside Drive near the mouth of the Georges River near Dolls Point.
Saturday night we arranged to have a walk and then dinner with a couple of ‘walking’ friends (not birders) and I suggested us walking past the place where I sighted the Bar-tailed Godwits previously, it was near sunset, but full low tide. Low and behold there was an even larger flock present, so off I went as they waited, and shot more footage. I just love these birds! I am hoping on my next adventure I will spot the return of the Eastern Curlew which I featured last year and the sandpipers.
But for now, as the sun had almost set I managed to catch this lone White-faced Heron on the beach, just before entering the restaurant which overlooked the mouth of Georges River in Botany Bay. I felt doubly blessed again to see my wader friends return safely to our beaches for another summer.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”- Matthew 6:25-34
What an amazing feat for these waders flying 16,000 km across the Pacific Ocean unguided, non-stop for 8 days, and landing on the same beaches, as they have done for many years. If our amazing Father God looks after these birds and brings them home safely each year, how much more does he consider our needs and love us, unconditionally with open arms and compassionate heart. Run into his arms, as we have, and discover the peace and joy of his acceptance and forgiveness. Rest and trust in his strength and guidance for your life, if you have not already done so.
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