As Winter draws to a close many birders will be awaiting the return of the migratory waders, which will be currently fattening themselves up for the long return flight from Asia, Siberia and Alaska in the next few weeks. The Bar-tailed Godwit (pictured above) will fly 16,000 kilometers non stop across the Pacific Ocean from Alaska to New Zealand before coming to Australia. So as a prelude to their return I visited some of the local spots to see what winter waders were there, and if any early arrivals had occurred. Click on photos to enlarge them.
I mentioned in a recent post that the extensive Maianbar spit and mudflats, near Bundeena, in the Royal National Park, is a top foraging sight for migratory waders, but on my visit I found no waders. I did however see locals walking there dogs illegally on the mudflats which is part of the Royal National Park Coastal Reserve.
I did later see this beautiful Intermediate Egret fishing at the waters edge. This is bird not migratory, and is found in small numbers in our area.
On a tip off from my youngest blog follower, my wife and I went for an afternoon reef walk at Boat Harbour Coastal Reserve in the Botany Bay National Park. He mentioned interesting ocean birds and small waders he had seen recently. On arrival the above White-faced Heron was stalking the rock pools for small fish trapped by the changing tide. He soon put distance between us. These birds are annual resident coastal waders found extensively in and around Australia in every state, usually found in small family groups.
A single Little Pied Cormorant also took flight on sighting us. Cormorants are not waders but fish in ocean, lakes and estuary, diving and swimming underwater to catch fish, which they bring to the surface to eat.
This Great Cormorant found a place to sun himself and dry off his wings,
My Bird of the Week – The Black-fronted Dotterel
The Black-fronted Dotterel is a very small plover resident to Australia found throughout mainland and coastal Australia, including Tasmania. It even exists in the inland arid desert regions where freshwater dams and lakes exist. We found this lone Dotterel, moving about on the reef area in fresh water puddles from rain the night before and salt water ponds of low tide. I often find them difficult to focus on since they are so small and tend move away when it sees me. It has a distinctive movement pattern of running fast then stopping suddenly feeding then running fast and stopping suddenly etc. It eats small molluscs as well as aquatic and land insects. Because of their small stature they usually see you before you see them, and move away quickly. This one totally disappeared from sight, within two seconds of us both not watching him, after which we did not see it again.
So we and the mudflats await the return of our migratory waders in the next few weeks, when once again many of us birders will govern our birding times by the tides.
Clever Cafe Birds
Last week I was in the Royal National Park at the Audley Cafe having a quiet coffee before birding the area. I was delightfully entertained by the resident wildlife, as they came to share in the cafe facilities. After all, this is THEIR park, set aside as a sanctuary for them. One young show-off male Sulphur-crested Cockatoo proceeded to put on a show for the patrons, working the rope.
Afterwards he joined is mates for some al fresco dining having an early lunch, provided for by a charitable human, who had since vacated the premises.
It was all very much to their liking, and as I could hear their thoughts in my head as I watched with musing interest.
This Noisy Miner was waiting in the wings (to use a bird expression), to assist the cafe staff in clearing tables. I think he was hoping to get a full time job there.
This Australian Wood Duck was having trouble getting the attention of the staff, and was quite put out by the lack of service.
Someone finally helped him out and shared some of their cake, though this kind of food is not good for the health of wild birds or animals.
This Australian Raven appeared to look somewhat lost as if on a date and was feeling he may have been stood up
The hackles are the beard like plumage under the chin of the bird. It is this feature which helps distinguish ravens from other crows, as well as being larger and having a larger beak.
Of course there are those who do not have time to dine and just want a quick takeaway like this Pacific Black Duck.
There were some that just passed by who were looking for something more.
Like join this flock who were involved in creative arts, forming this Cockatoo Tree, or if the truth be known waiting for food that this couple by the river might share with them.
All in all it was an interesting and delightful experience watching the wild life dine in their own National Park cafe.
Coming back to our little Black-fronted Dotterel, how tiny this little guy is, and yet how beautifully constructed. As a medical scientist I spend much of my work day looking into a microscope at objects which are unable to be described or distinguished by the naked eye. This bird, like the Spotted and Striated Pardalotes (featured in recent posts), only makes me wonder at the wonder of it all and consider Intelligent Design over random fatalistic occurrence. Our experience in life tells us that invention, construction and design are all intelligently, thoughtfully planned with a purpose in mind.
“For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.” – Psalm 139:13,14
The Art Show was a huge success and I was very thankful that the coordinators gave me my own little section to show my work and introduce my book. It was great interacting with locals and sharing about the wonders of birding and the need to live a healthy life, and de-stress by earthing ourselves in our natural environment. I sold many books and canvas prints. If you live in the Sydney area and would like to purchase any of the remaining unsold works please click on to my Prints4SALE page to check them out.
Have a wonderful week!