Last week’s post was rather long, as I shared the many great birding experiences we had that weekend, and the special delight of the Swamp Harrier. If you did not have time to finish reading it to the end, then today is the time, as I realised I could have made 2 posts from the one. Why do I say that now? Well, last weekend I was not able to get out birding, and the Friday morning I was out it was a heatwave here of 34°C (93°F). As I walked my favourite birding spots in the Royal National Park, there were very few birds observed, and the ones I did see were mostly hiding under the cool shade of the thick bushes ans trees. A Very different situation to the week before. Even this Great Cormorant rested in the shade of a tree.
My Bird of the Week – The Great Cormorant
The Great Cormorant or Great Black Cormorant (American name) is found throughout the world wherever there is water fresh or salt. It is found throughout Australia including coastal islands but not in the deserts of Western Australia. All the Cormorants can dive and swim underwater to catch fish, which they consume on the surface. They are often herded by Australian Pelicans which wait for them to emerge and then snatch the fish from them. In the Asian countries, for hundreds of years, man has used Cormorants to catch fish for them by placing a ring on their neck to prevent swallowing the larger fish, which the man can retrieve from the bird.
Australia is blessed with five kinds of Cormorant (6 if you include the Darter (Anhinga). Above you can see the The Great Cormorant, Large Pied Cormorant, the smaller Little Pied Cormorant and Little Black Cormorant. The Black-faced Cormorant is mainly seen on the rough sea coasts of southern Australia and Tasmania. You may remember me showing this one earlier this year on our Bruny Island tour, so most will never see this bird.
Many of us have witnessed the Cormorants and Darters drying their wings in the sun. This is because their plumage is not water repellent like that of other waterbirds. As they dive to catch fish their feathers get wet, so the need to dry out becomes a very real need, as to stay wet, as we all know, is not pleasant, if you are not equipped for it.
As I walk in the stifling heat, birds scuffled under deep thick bushes, and there was hardly a bird in the trees to be seen or heard. It is known that when there is very windy or very hot weather (especially the middle of the day) that this is the worse time to go birding. This was still mid morning, but it had heated up very quickly so that this Eastern Whipbird remained under cover, being quite elusive, as you can see.
Despite the ‘box of chocolates being spoiled by the heat, I was granted one special treat from the box. This immature Variegated Fairy-wren undergoing its maturity morph, from female appearance to that of mature breeding male. I was delighted that he stopped long enough for me to catch these shots. Click on photo to enlarge.
Even the Golden Whistler I normally see here was quiet, and sheltering from the heat, he was not wanting his picture taken while looking so heat affected.
Finally, I saw the above branch in the river nearby, and it looked like an exotic waterbird so I took it, seeing I had so little for my blog this week. But I am thankful for the many blessings we experience birding, regardless of the number of birds seen. Each time we go out we appreciate the beauty and grandeur of a truly amazing and wonderful Creator God.
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” – Psalm 139:14
“They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty— and I will meditate on your wonderful works.” – Psalm 145:5
There is still time to order a copy or copies of my bird book for Christmas. Many have ordered additional copies as gifts, and a great gift it is, as it keeps on giving into the lives of its beholder. Check it out on my birdbook page.
Have a wonderful week!