Welcome to a new year of birding adventures and sharing our birding experiences. If you are new to birding [ie. bird observing and photographing as a recreational pastime] then welcome, and please check out my birding tips and links to useful information in the other pages of my website. The recent weeks hot weather has not been conducive to birding, as many birds take shelter. However, this family of Darter pictured above are quite at home in the 38° (100°F) heat. Notice the juveniles on bottom branch with parents on top. The temperature did not seem to worry these water birds including this Royal Spoonbill in beautiful breeding plumage on my visit to Sydney Olympic Park ponds. Click on pics to enlarge them.
or this Little Egret, also displaying breeding plumage.
Even this Pied Cormorant faithfully sat on its nest, surrounded with a small flock of Little Black Cormorants waiting to see the outcome.
Several new families of Chestnut Teal, protected by both parents, cruised around in the hot sun on the lake near walkway. The male has an iridescent green head which appears dark blackish from a distance but shines in the sun at the right angle. The babies typically look like their mother, with male plumage emerging as they reach breeding age.
One of the reasons for visiting this park was to observe if the Black-winged Stilts were breeding here again, and happily they were, on the specially made pontoons far out in the centre of the lake. They use to breed near the parkway road, but were constantly disturbed by passersby. I was delighted to see several birds on nests. I will return in later moths to view their babies.
Below is a short video of the Black-winged Stilt calling.
I was disappointed that I had arrived at high tide and the small waders, The Black-fronted Dotterel, were not present. I knew that they would be resting on high ground somewhere safe, but knew not where. Bill another birder I met and chatted with, was also looking for them. I later found them resting on the wreck of an old barge in the bay nearby. They were just standing in the hot sun with nothing to do. They are so tiny, I almost missed them.
At first I thought this White-faced Heron was the only inhabitant on the barge, as its head stuck up among the rusty bolts, but scanning the deck I soon found the Dotterels.
On the way back, this Australian White Ibis flew in so I grabbed this shot.
After reporting my Dotterel find to Bill and Phil (another birder Bill had met while I was away) I made my way back to my car. Of course, you can not visit this place without seeing or at least hearing the Superb Fairy-wren, as there are several families along the walkway, and always one at the bird-hide.
Yesterday, on our New Years Day public Holiday, my wife and I and a new birding friend visited our favourite local Oatley Park Reserve. It was not as hot, but a cool southerly change had brought relief from the previous heat. As we walked our usual birding trail to the ponds, we heard a commotion between some Currawongs, and a strange sounding bird we could not identify the sound of.
I could not spot the bird but my wife with her binoculars exclaimed it was a young Channel-billed Cuckoo, which appeared to be raised by the Currawongs. As you know the Cuckoos are notorious for planting their eggs in the nest of other large birds for them to hatch and raise, and this bird’s parents visit south eastern Australia during the warm summer months to do just that.
In the grass this male Red-browed Finch was spotted briefly before he flew off. This finch is another specie of Firetail, but for some reason has been called Finch, and so we call it thus. The other firetail species are also true finches. It is interesting how inconstant naming can be.
On reaching the ponds we found this small Chestnut Teal family actively cleaning and preening. When you see the current putrid condition of these ponds fed by Dairy Creek storm water easement, you can understand why these poor birds need to clean regularly.
On our return, this male Eastern Black-backed Magpie had just found a small beetle to snack on. If you look carefully at his back plumage you will see traces brown, signifying that he is a young immature bird, but nearing maturity.
And yes, as predictable as ever, this Dollarbird sat int he same position as always, like all Dollarbirds, another summer migrant, they sit on the top branch of a dead tree limb, in a similar way to raptors, to get a good areal view of their surrounds.
This pair of Rainbow Lorikeets, like most parrots, pair for life, and are found in abundance here in the park due to the presence of the Angophora Costata trees in which they nest, also known as the Sydney Redgum.
This tree was recently reclassified to become known as an actual eucalypt tree, which many thought was the case anyway. It leaves a hole when the branches break away which the Cockies and Lorikeets enlarge using their strong beaks over several weeks of hard work.
The Sulphur-crested Cockatoo are also in great numbers around southern Sydney for the same reason. Both birds have been nesting here recently and currently.
This beautiful example of a Red Wattlebird flew into our path for a brief moment. Notice how large and red the wattles are and how yellow his tummy is. These birds are aggressive honeyeaters known for their loud cough like grating call.
My Bird of the Week – The Eastern Rosella
A small flock of Eastern Rosella were seen in tall grass feeding on grass seed. There are about 8 subspecies of Rosella in Australia, of which most are now reclassified as subspecies of the Crimson Rosella, even though the colour crimson begs ones imagination in several of them.
The Eastern Rosella, as its name implies, is found only in south eastern Australia. South east Queensland, most of NSW, all of Victoria, south east South Australia and eastern Tasmania. There are three races, with the nominate race being eximius pictured above. Like other parrots it feeds mainly on seeds and bean pods, but more frequently in open woodlands and grassy paddocks. A beautiful bird both in and out of flight. Like other parrots it pairs for life.
BUT the highlight of the day came only minutes after I mentioned to my wife as we walked, that we had not seen the Tawny Frogmouth families in the park for many months now, and what a wonderful gift it would be to find them. We always looked for them each time we came, but for many months now we had been unsuccessful. God must have heard me because what followed was an amazing chain of events. As we stood on the footbridge over Lime Kiln Bay, a young couple shared how they had seen a family of 4 Tawny Frogmouth just now near where they nested two years ago. We quickly made our way to the area and continued looking, walking up and down the road but could not see them. My wife noted that the tree in the phone photo was not large but small (unusual to say the least). As I was looking further sown the road I met a young family and shared what we were looking for, and asked to let us know if they saw the Frogmouths. Minutes later I had a call from our friend that they found them further up the road near the original area. The little girl in the family proudly told me her daddy had found them in this small tree and had shown my wife.
As you can see the tree is unusually small, and did not resemble the Frogmouths much at all. They usually roost in eucalypt trees which resemble their plumage. Here an adult male sat above alone while the rest of the family sat below huddled together. These are not owls (as I had to explain to the families that passed by) but a unique Australian nocturnal bird. All up there were 4 birds resting, with one on lookout.
Our friend was thankful she came along, and exclaimed how she always saw new and interesting birds when she accompanied us both on our short birding adventures. We departed the park for a coffee with thankful hearts, knowing afresh that our loving Heavenly Father had caused this chain of events to occur to enable us to see what was hidden from our eyes. We had walked right past these birds several times within the last hour but not seen them. This is the nature of these well camouflaged birds. In my mediation later I could see that I needed these two young couples to assist in revealing this bird to me, and how God placed them in my path to do so. No matter how hard we had looked, my wife and I would never see these birds on our own. The importance of divine revelation in our lives was brought home to me here, and the blessing that comes when we ask God to reveal by his Holy Spirit what is hidden from our understanding.
“At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.” – Luke 10:21
Have an enjoyable week birding, and check out my book and website features for more birding information.
If you are a local birder following my blog you may be interested in my new MyBirdSightings page which lists the birds sighted by my wife and I in 2017, including the date and location.