The crisp, warm sunny days of Australia’s winter make for great times to walk in the bush. It is not hot and humid and the snakes are much less active. Many birds have migrated north to warmer climates leaving behind the annual residents such as this Laughing Kookaburra. The variety of winter birds may reduce but the numbers of those left behind make it worthwhile to go birding for passerines.
The birds that remain are the mainly territorial insectivorous and meat eating passerines which breed locally also. Many can be found in the same area and even trees from day to day. The Royal National Park is quite handy to me, and my yearly pass enables me to go in and out whenever without concern of fees. Click on photos to enlarge.
The Bundeena walk to the coastal sandstone cliffs overlooking Botany Bay in view of the Sydney CBD, was such a beautiful experience on this sunny winter’s day. Birds flew in out across the track continuously. These included Eastern Spinebill . It is interesting that despite the reduced numbers of wildflowers now till spring next month, the honeyeaters are doing well. They do eat insects, which make up a large portion of their diet, but the Banksia heads provide the nectar they need during this interim period as do the Mountain Devil flowers.
It has been realised that Mountain Devil flowers play a very important part in many scrubby bushland areas, where Banksia are not common or have finished flowering, and may be for the Honeyeater in many areas, the only nectar flower open during the interim period.
It was lovely to see some wildflowers already blooming in the winter sun, and these were seen along the track down to the cliffs. I looked for passing whales but saw none, as most would be already at Hervey Bay by now having their young in warmer waters.
Of course many people sat and admired the beautiful vista from Australia’s first National Park. These sandstone cliffs are often the first scenes that tourists see of Sydney when they fly into the airport on Botany Bay. Note how high this wave splash has lifted!
My Bird of the Week – The New Holland Honeyeater
One bird which thrives abundantly in the Royal National Park in the thick scrubby forest and heathlands exposed to the sea coast is the New Holland Honeyeater.
This bird is found here all year round in large numbers. It is a fast flying bird that is often seen sitting on the highest point observing the terrain (as seen above).
Race novahollandiae is the nominate race which is seen in our area and in the coastal south eastern states. This race is pictured below.
My wife and I have observed all three races during our touring of Australia and below both the Tasmanian and South Western Australian races are shown. Note the minor differences.
One of the enjoyments of observing the New Holland Honeyeater is its industrious behaviour and determination when seeking food, even on the windiest days, it is a gutsy little bird as shown in the film below.
Believe it or not, this footage was filmed while I was lying in bed looking out through the bedroom window in a cabin in the Capertee Valley a few years ago. It shows the agility of these little birds when feeding on nectar in this Bottlebrush bush.
Other winter birds seen on the track include the Yellow-faced Honeyeater, the Grey Fantail, the Brown Thornbill and the not so common, White-naped Honeyeater. The Yellow-faced Honeyeater is seen frequently at this time of year and tends to last the winter here well, however, I did not get any good shots of it on this walk.
And yes, it is always a treat to hear and then see the Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo pass over in their life long pair.
One of the treats of visiting Bundeena in the heart of the Royal National Park is to visit the Azure Kingfisher which lives near a creek that flows onto the beach. I have failed so far to get any better pictures than this one which my wife took. The Azure is a very timid bird and flys off at the first sight of humans.
One place we did discover, which we believe God led us to was the mud flats of Maianbar Beach, where we happened to be at low tide. Signs in the area pointed out that the migratory waders feed on these mud flats during the summer months. This was new area to explore for us, for like many who live in southern Sydney, have never visited this place near Bundeena. If I had not forgotten to put the tea and coffee bags in with our morning tea, we would never had explored it, as we visited the lovely little coffee shop there (the only shop there).
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28
So my forgetful incident was turned around to be a blessing, and all I can do is say ‘thank you Lord’! We will certainly be checking this spot out when the waders begin their return next month.
The next three weeks I will be featuring a series on birds from Oatley Park Reserve, one of my favorite local birding spots. This is a lead up to the Oatley West Public School Community Festival where I will have many canvas prints if birds from Oatley Park on display and for sale, at the Art Show there, 27th & 28th August. These works are available for sale now online.
Have a great week!