Mudgee NSW is indigenous for ‘nest in the hills’, and this country town over the ranges, 268km north-west of Sydney, is just that. Vastly becoming a weekend gettaway for Sydney city people, with its many wineries and eateries making for a relaxing weekend away, with its quiet country feel and ambiance. My wife and I explored the beautiful Cudgegong River while we were there with friends recently.
The Photos above, Click on photo to enlarge it, are of the wetlands adjoining the Cudgegong River in Mudgee in the Putta Bucca Wetlands. At sunrise on Resurrection Sunday morning my wife and I drove to the wetlands while our friends (non birders) were still asleep. We not only saw the birds but also the morning light on both trees and birds.
It was a full moon and the morning sun made a beautiful sight of the surrounding trees.
We had the place to ourselves, as we walked along the walking trail around the lake to the bird hide. The first birds we noticed actively skimming the water was this small flock of Fairy Martins.
It was lovely to see them moving about and even greater to see them finally rest briefly so I could photograph them, as difficult as it was from a distance.
My Bird of the Week – The Yellow Spoonbill
The Yellow Spoonbill feeding alone in the side pools, by sweeping its long bill side by side. The resident ducks looked on with curiosity. When it spotted me, shy as they are, it flew to a dead tree branch in the middle of the lake. This bird had breeding plumage (buff breast plumes and tail plumes.) They are similar to the Royal Spoonbill except they do not have the dark blue bill and dark legs. I find this bird more inland than coastal, but they tend to go where the water is, and sometimes can be found, as I have several times, in small dams in rural properties. They are throughout mainland Australia found, but not in the arid desert regions, except after a heavy wet season where the inland lakes and wetlands have filled up. They are a quiet bird and make a grunt or groan noise when alarmed. They sift the fresh water and tidal shallows for small crustaceans, insects and tiny fish.
The White-faced Heron flew in looking golden in the morning sunlight to join the Yellow Spoonbill in the dead tree, but much higher up, in fact on the very top.
AS we started observing the behaviour here, we noticed from a distance these Black-fronted Dotterals moving about the lake shoreline. The classic Dotteral way of moving is run then stop still, run then stop still.
Other water birds moving about are featured above. I love the way the early sunlight adds a golden touch to the photos.
This Pelican was landing, and I could not resist catching it, as they always amuse me the way they brake with their large feet.
Our attention turned to the passerines (tree birds) as we continued walking the trails around the lake. This Australian raven was seeking attention, and causing a ruckus for some reason unknown to us.
Above are just some of the many passerine birds we saw around the lake.
Two of the passerines that I encounter over the ranges is always the Noisy Friarbird and the White-winged Chough. If you listen to the following movie clip you will see how noisy they are. The Choughs graze mainly on the ground moving around in small flocks making a squeeky sound.
Last weekend we were west also and we awoke to sounds similar to that above. The whole tree was alive as these birds chased each other around, both young and old alike with unceasing noise.
In Lawson Park by the river in Mudgee, the trees are alive with one of my favourite little honeyeaters, the White-plumed. They were so active it was difficult to get a photo.
It was great to see both Buff-rumped and Yellow-rumped Thornbill together at the lake, these are birds we do not see where I live on the coast.
Last post my Bird of the Week was the Golden Whistler, the Rufous Whistler is very similar but for the orange-brown replacing the yellow. This bird is found more inland, but also is coastal. It has a beautiful song like is Golden relative, and the females look very plain olive also, similar to the female Golden whistler.
It was sad to see this young Nankeen Kestrel with what appeared to be twig caught in its mouth. The Cuckoo-shrike watched it with curiosity. I wondered what it was thinking.
Some common non-bird features of this region.
As we drove home from our long weekend stay in Mudgee, my wife noticed in a distant paddock a large bird in a dead tree. We are always on the lookout for raptors while travelling, and this was one special find which we thanked God for. A male and female Wedge-tailed Eagle, and one with prey. The prey appeared to be a water bird from what I could see. It was difficult as we were a long way from them, and if it were not for my birding lens, would not have been able to bring you these photos.
You need to remember that these birds have the best eyesight in the world with telescopic eyeballs, and they can see me with my camera and even the colour of my eyes from the half a km away that we were. This is the largest eagle in Australia with a wingspan of up to 2.3 meters. The eagle with the prey was getting worried about our presence…
Eventually, the eagle took off with its prey and the other one followed. They both landed in a paddock much further away, but this time on the ground. At this point we left for home, satisfied with the gift we had been granted, rounding off a great weekend of wine and birds.
And so ends another wonderful birding adventure, this time along the Cudgegong River. On our way home we were reminded of the wonderful promise of God after seeing the eagle in flight.
“Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint..” – Isaiah 40:30,31
Another great verse of encouragement is how God draws us to himself, as he did to Israel in the past…
“You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.” – Exodus 19:4
What a beautiful analogy it is, to be carried on eagle’s wings! It is the analogy seen in the Lord of the Rings movies, but more so it is my experience with knowing God in a personal way through Jesus his son. It is wonderful to know that he loves me so much, as he does each one of us, and even died in my place, to forgive me, restore me and make me his friend. He wants to bless and help us to get the best out of life we can. Many times throughout the Bible he says: “Don’t be afraid (stop living in fear), Trust me, Follow me and Live!” Have a great week!
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