Last Saturday afternoon one of my old school friends of many years came for a visit. Him and his wife are keen walkers but not birders, so they are one of our walking-friends couples which I mentioned in previous posts, and generally most of our walking-friends find it frustrating walking with my wife and I as we frequently stop when we see or hear a bird. Above you can see my friend having some photo fun as he calls himself the lazy birder’ while I am filming in one direction, he is pretending to use his binoculars while they are still encased.
After a lunch at the Audley Vistors Centre & Cafe in the Royal National Park (where I have featured birds dining in past posts and also where I meet birders touring from all over the world). You will be pleased to know the Wood Duck families are doing well and attract much attention from the visitors. Both mother and father Wood Duck faithfully care for their brood. Click on photos to enlarge them.
One bird that is in an over abundance here is the raucous Sulphur-crested Cockatoo. They were being chased off as they tried taking bread from the ducklings by a young girl and her dad. Notice the raised cone on the head of the bird, this is usually done as an alarm in response to threat or conflict, it makes them look larger and more threatening, hence the sulphur-crested name.
It is always a special treat when walking by the Hacking River in search of Kingfishers, of which we saw none. What was special was to see these two male Pacific Ducks fighting it out for the female resting quietly in the foreground. One duck had challenged the other, and he fort with all his might to protect her and his claim. Traces of their beautiful iridescent blue speculum plumage is visible at times.
It was to our advantage that the wife of my friend had an injured knee and therefore could not endue the long walk we had planned, so we did a slower birder kind of walk instead, which they enjoyed, and we enjoyed all the more, as my friend’s keen eyesight enabled him to spot birds I could not see. I have shared in previous posts how my walking-friends make the best bird spotters, and this was no exception. However, you would have to deaf not to hear the continuous call of the many Golden Whistlers as we made our way along the Lady Carrington Drive in the national park. You will remember these same birds were blogged a couple of weeks ago in our post.
The above video clip is a bit wonky but does show the bird in full calling mode, which is characteristic during breeding season Spring to Summer. My wife was showing passers by the bird which was difficult to see as it was some distance into the bush, hence the amount of movement in the video.
The Eastern Spinebill appeared moving around a bush and as we peered into the bush we found 2 juvenile Spinebills deep inside the bush. We had to work hard to get the following shots. This was a rare find, to see Spinebill babies.
When we came back later the adult Spinebill had hidden the juveniles in a tree stump and was guarding them. One place you will find an Eastern Spinebill, particularly when flowers are few, if you stand there long enough, is on a native Mountain Devil flower.
The Mountain Devil flower was blooming close to their nest. This flower also blooms in winter when many of the bush flowers are not.
This is actually a tubular flower (many small tubular flowers within a flower) which the Spinebills with their long curved bill can easily access, where other honeyeaters may have difficulty accessing the nectar from the base of the flower.
Some of the other spring flowers we saw are shown above.
We watched this Grey Shrike-thrush catch insects high up in this eucalypt tree against a cloudy sky, which made it difficult.
Again with the great spotting ability of our friends we sighted this pair of Variegated Fairy-wren, which are always a buzz to see, with the brilliant colours in the sunshine. They are a challenge to photograph as they jump around the shrubs.
Again they sighted this Grey Fantail and this White-browed Scrubwren, who did not like the idea of having his picture taken.
The sighting of this Crested Shrike-tit was a wonderful find so low, even if this was the only good shot, as this bird is always on the move and very difficult to photograph, especially since it spends most of its time high in the rainforest canopy looking under bark for insects.
As always there has to be a Brown Thornbill somewhere in the walk, and there was, this tiny guy.
As I walked ahead I could hear the sound of a dove like call (above) and as I looked I found one solitary Brown Cuckoo-dove, a bird we are accustomed to seeing in pairs.
But the most amazing find my old school friend ha, and I still wonder at how he saw it deep in the bush, was this lone Echidna. The Echidna, like the Platypus are one of the worlds most unusual creatures called Monotremes (egg laying mammals). They are very shy and often found on their own, curling into a ball of spikes when feeling threatened.
I intrepidly entered the bush as the others walked on to get a closer view and patiently waited till he came out, as my footage below will show. This is the Eastern Short Nosed Echidna.
My Bird of the Week – The Green Catbird
As we were returning back to our car we sighted this fast moving bird which typically would hide itself well camouflaged in the green tree canopy. The Green Catbird is a member of the Bowerbird family, but they pair for life and the male assists the female in raising their youngsters. This bird is found in the coastal rainforests of eastern NSW and south eastern Queensland. They are called catbirds because of their call, which sounds like a cat or baby wailing, and has led many a concerned and intrigued early European settler on a wild goose chase, looking for some seemingly deserted baby. These birds eat fruit and insects like other bowerbirds, and the male may store fruit near its bower to attract the female. Its cousin the Spotted Catbird is only found up in Far North eastern Queensland.
Unlike other bowerbirds it does not build a bower, but finds a clearing of light between the tall rainforest trees ( a break in the canopy) where it clears a space on the ground and highlights the colourful flowers and fruit it has collected and stored in nearby trees. It will stand in the light with food and flowers in beak to attract the female to his special place (artificial bower). They will bond for life and raise their young together, with him continuing to bring food to her to show continued devotion to her, how beautiful is that!