To celebrate my birthday last week, my wife and I set off for a day in the Southern Highlands NSW. After a beautiful big breaky at the Elephant Boy Cafe we started out on this cool overcast day to check out the Sale Yard Ponds near Moss Vale in the hope of seeing the elusive Blue-billed Duck. We did not see it, but were rewarded with a beautiful pair of Australian Shelduck. This female looked quite in control as she stood stately on this rock in the middle of the large privately owned ponds.
The male has a white eye ring , which the female lacks. A couple of threatening signs and two large dogs warned us not to enter the property, so we took these pics from outside the gates, from some distance away.
One of my favorite waders the Black-winged Stilt was also present in a beautiful pair that stuck close together much of the time.
Another lovely pair were these Black-fronted Dotterel, though I could not take them together, they were quite shy, and some distance away. As I shared in comment with my photographic blogger friend Donna from Nature and Wildlife Pics recently, photographing very small birds can be a challenge to get them focused well and to make good captures, and this is certainly true in Australia with very small birds and heavy dark foliage. Tiny bird shot from a distance on the ground are a challenge for telescopic lenses with short depth field, and i often get many non-crisp shots, but at least I do get one when others would say too hard.
We then drove to Cecil Hoskins Nature Reserve nearby on the dammed up Wingecarribee River, where Platypus are said to reside as well as water birds and passerines. We spotted these Rosellas with their single immatures. Both types of Rosella are stunning in the morning sun.
Thornbills were moving throughout the riverside forest, both Brown and Yellow Thornbills in small feeding flocks.
This male Black-backed Magpie is training his well advanced juvenile male who appears to be still wanting to be fed.
My favorite shot was this one of this joyful little Grey Fantail singing its heart out by the river.
You can see its singing in its high pitched chirp with the sound of the Common Blackbird (European vagrant) in the background.
These Pelicans were the only waterbirds on the day, but it was interesting watching them fish. These birds have many different ingenious ways of getting food, as I have shared in my book ‘What Birds Teach Us’.
This Eastern Crimson Rosella peaks from the nesting hole in this dead tree hollow, this must be a good area for these birds.
Of course like always, a Kookaburra quietly watches us from a nearby tree, as we make our way higher up into the mountains to barren Grounds National Park.
This is the Superb Lyrebird logo for our state’s National Parks and Wildlife Service. The Lyrebird is one of our unique birds we share with Victoria south of us, and the southern most rainforests of Queensland. You may well be asking by now “What’s with the Mist Mountain?” Well as we climbed up the winding Jamberoo Rd to Barren Grounds the fog and mist increased to a spooky level of visibility.
‘Birding in the Mist’ is quite a challenge, not only due to poor light but fewer birds. We did not see the Eastern Bristlebird or the Eastern Ground Parrot, two rare and endangered species found here. However this did not stop the birthday boy from enjoying his special day out doing what we both love.
As you will see here on, my images are dark and foggy. The wonderful exhibition of wildflowers here in Barren Grounds made the place anything but barren. The above Australian Christmas Bells are a beautiful example of the time of year.
Above are some of the beautiful Australian spring wildflowers found in the mountains here. My favorite is the unique yellow Drumstick flower.
Some areas of bush were just totally covered in blossom, as you can see they shine out from within the mist. In all this beauty we saw no birds for the first half hour, then…
To our delight we saw a bird we seldom see, the Fan-tailed Cuckoo, then we saw two, possibly a pair, though they both at first appeared to look like females, but the second photo could look more like a male, but correct me if I am wrong.
This Satin Flycatcher was another lone ranger in the mist which we did not expect to find, at first we thoughtthrough the mist, it was a Hooded Robin, but later viewing of my one good shot revealed it’s true identity.
My Bird of the Week – The Rufous Whistler
The last bird we saw was this Rufous Whistler male. We found him only because we caould follow his continuous whistle, which I have recorded for you below.
We did not see the female, though she responded occasionally to his call. This bird is found throughout mainland Australia.
The female lacks the black facial and chest markings but looks otherwise similar. Previous shots of female above.
Above you can see the bird in better light without the fog. This bird is basically insectivorous and lives in the forests and dry woodland areas moving about its territory whiatling as it moves, communicating with its partner, in a very similar way to its cousin the Golden Whistler.
This beautiful butterfly followed us along the track wanting its photo taken to I kindly obliged.