I have often shared how God loves to surprise us with his ‘gifts’, and on our visit to Walka Waterworks near Maitland NSW we were again blessed with a beautiful unexpected find which I will share with you in this post. We came in search of the Blue-billed Duck, which we did not find but we did see many Great Crested Grebe, and at least 6 families with babies. Click on Photos to enlarge them.
The waterworks is no longer used, so Maitland Council have transformed the lake and surrounding area into a reserve with picnic facilities and walking track around the lake, where locals can come and enjoy recreational activities.
Our first birds were this flock of Little Black Cormorant resting on an old structure near the edge of the lake. It was a hot afternoon, and the sun was quite intense being late summer, so we proceeded to do the walk around the lake, aware that it was late afternoon.
As we walked we had our first glimpse of a bird we had only seen from a distance, the Great Crested Grebe, both male and female. What a beautiful sight to behold, as they elegantly cruised the waters near where we walked. My wife was quite excited as was myself. You do not need to guess what my Bird of the Week is…
My Bird of the Week – The Great Crested Grebe
The Great Crested Grebe is found throughout eastern Australia including Tasmania, and inland. It can also be found in pockets around the southern and western coasts of the continent. The male is slightly larger than the female and has a darker neck frill breeding, and higher crest. This bird never needs to walk on the land, but will even build its nest on water plants. It is rarely seen flying, and if it does it is only a short low flight, but is an excellent underwater swimmer. The males will fight for their females if another male intrudes, and quite viscous battles can take place. The babies are striped, similar to emus as you will see following. Like the Mute Swan, they carry their young on their backs when they want to move quickly to safety.The Great Crested Grebe is found in other parts of the world but the Australian subspecies Podiceps cristatus australis is uniquely ours.
One fascinating feature of this bird is its courtship rituals, which I will show in the following unique photos I was blessed to capture during my visit. They are in order of occurrence…
We were so blessed to see this occur while we were there watching them. Another wonderful blessing was to see the families with their little ones. There were about six we saw, but the highlight was when we could no longer see the little ones swimming, and we wondered where they went, then we saw their heads sticking up from the back of the adult, in a similar way to the Mute Swans we saw in London last year.
The babies have black stripes on a white body, making them more difficult to distinguish on the water.
The above movie clip is accompanied with ‘Catavina’ [classical guitar music by David Fryatt from his Just Classical album] Used with permission.
Some of the other babies also on the lake were the Dusky Moorehen and a Little Pied Cormorant.
This Hardhead family were a beautiful find with their one youngster which I almost mistook for a female Blue Billed Duck as they look a little similar from a distance. Notice the head of a turtle poking up in the last photo as I was taking the Hardhead family.
It is always exciting to find a Pink-eared Duck, unusually on its own, filtering the water with its very specialized bill. I managed to get a male Chestnut Teal, a male Hardhead and a Pink-eared Duck all in one photo, which shows how they share their living area together without rivalry.
Since we have the Little Black and Little Pied Cormorants represented here, it was good to find the a pair of young Great Cormorant basking in the last rays of the sun. Which concludes a very wonderful afternoon walk around the lake, as the sun set. I hope you enjoy the above photos as much we enjoyed watching these birds in their habitat.
Two Important Photos that impacted me at the time.
“Even to your old age I will be the same, And even to your graying years I will bear you! I have done it, and I will carry you; And I will bear you and I will deliver you.” – Isaiah 46:4
In the first picture… When the little Grebe can’t keep up with the parent, the parent turns to it and raises its back plumage to indicate to the baby that it is welcome to be carried. This is like the Father opening his arms to receive his son and then lift it up on his back to carry him.
In the second picture… It reminds me of my Father God. I look at it and see myself resting my head as He carries me through life’s difficulties, rescuing me and refreshing and helping me through times that are difficult.