It was a beautiful warm Autumn afternoon and my wife and I went for a walk by Georges River along the waterfront at Dolls Point. We were quite surprised to find a small flock of about eleven Bar-tailed Godwit. These birds would normally by now have migrated to the Alaska and Siberia where they are breeding and feeding in the food-rich polar seas. However, a number of birds, particularly young ones, having recently fledged, may miss a migration or two and remain in Australia throughout the winter.
The journey to the Northern Hemisphere is quite grueling and requires maximum ability to make the 16,000 km journey. You may notice the bird on the far right having darker plumage and more distinct under body markings. This is possibly a young bird transitioning to adult plumage or a young female who is showing some early signs of breeding plumage, though she will not be breeding this year. I displayed in a previous post the full on breeding plumage of this bird which starts appearing just before they leave Australia. Click on the photos to enlarge them.
The bird is surprisingly small when compared with a Silver Gull (Seagull). These gulls were quite amused at this highly active little group. The interesting thing is, the gulls can eat the same food as the Godwits, but because of their small beaks, can only pounce on the tiny sand crabs when they are on the surface, but the Godwits walk around them injecting their long beaks deep into the wet mud.
This Godwit was being chased by a Silver Gull, who tried to steal his deep sand extraction.
In the next few days I took a visit to Olympic Park, a place I like to visit a few times a year, especially at this time of year, to see what water birds, shore birds and waders have stayed for the winter. It was great to see the Darter and Pied Cormorant nesting. Interesting enough the latest field guide shows a reclassification of the Darter to the Australasian Darter which was Anhinga melanogaster but is now Anhinga novahollandiae.
It is always interesting to watch the long necked snake like nestlings actively seeking food in the nest. In the pic below you will see them placing their head inside the mouth of the other, thinking it is the mother with food.
In the movie clip below the parent feeds the nestlings as she allows them to push their whole head and neck down into her gullet. The Darter lives primarily on small fish, similar to the Cormorants, diving for its food. It swims very low in the water, with often only the neck showing.
In the native Casuarina trees near the lake several pairs of Pied Cormorant were also nesting alongside the Australasian Darters. This is how it is here each year, these similar birds tend to nest together here. Ibis and Spoonbill often find security in different species nesting together in community. This Pied Cormorant below continues to bring sticks for the nest while the female sits on the nest. He lovingly checks her frequently to see she is OK, as he will feed her. He is a quite devoted expectant father.
This Pied Cormorant and Little Black Cormorant share this branch together in the Autumn sun, displaying the unity the Cormorant species share with each other.
An immature Pied Cormorant was catching some Autumn sun. Notice the brown plumage which is changing to black as it matures.
It was lovely to see an immature Black Swan resting on the lawn near the lake, is only a few months old, and will eventually gain its black plumage in about a year.
This Royal Spoonbill and Red-necked Avocet were taking a nap, as were other birds including Black-winged Stilts. Notice how they classically press their beaks into and under their back plumes, and stand on one leg.
On my walk to the large lake, I caught a look from a distance of this beautiful White-faced Heron decked out in full breeding plumage.
From the bird hide I was able to get a good idea of the present waders, including many ducks and Teals. Red-necked Avocet and Black-winged Stilts were sweeping the shallows, while Masked Lapwings and tiny Black-fronted Dotterels were dottering about on the shoreline. These birds remain throughout winter, though the Avocets may move as a flock around various local ponds and lakes. The Stilts tend to breed and remain here all year. These birds have a mutually friendly relationship with each other, and are often found living and feeding together, as was the case here. I have seen in the past, a Stilt defend a placid Avocet, which was under attack from a large White Ibis, in an attempt to take over the feeding area. The persistent Stilt succeeded in driving the Ibis away, allowing the Avocet and itself to continue feeding quietly together.
You may wonder how these unusually shaped beaks actually work for these Red-necked Avocets. In a similar way to the Spoonbills, they sweep the water back and forth catching small marine organisms as they go.
This immature Black-winged Stilt demonstrates the foraging action of its beak design.
However, it is the classic foraging walk of the Dotterel that amuses me, being very similar to that of Plovers and Pipits, where they run a short distance stop, feed, stand still, run again, feed, stop and look, hoping not to draw attention to themselves.
This Great Egret was an amazing poser for me, and is usually found near the water inlet for the lake, ready to catch small incoming fish. When they feel threatened they stretch their neck up to make themselves appear larger and more threatening themselves.
Though there were many Chestnut Teal and Pacific Black Duck present, this pair of Grey Teal caught my eye, as I do not get to showcase them often. All of these water birds, shorebirds and waders are winter residents which are seen locally throughout the year.
But the day was rounded off with the gift of this beautiful non-breeding male Superb Fairy-wren, who posed for me quite curiously in front of the bird hide. These birds morph (eclipse) to the bright blue and black plumage when breeding, and retain only the blue tail when not breeding, otherwise looking similar to the female, but more grey in colour.
It was lovely to see this pair of male and female Australian Wood Duck posing graciously for me. Wood Ducks are one of the most devoted parents in the bird world, with both male and female being totally committed to caring for and raising their young, as I have showcased in previous posts.
One of the greatest contributing factors to a stable childhood is a present and loving father in the family. This is so important for the confident and balanced development of children, especially the daughters, who gain much of their modelling and self esteem from the father. It has been said in counselling to parents, that if you want to see your children grow up loving and caring, then model this in your relationship with each other. Children learn how to live and love by watching not by being told. The bright green speculum on this male ‘shines’ and draws attention, and so will a good dad when he is a loving hubby, he will shine for his wife and children, by being the families hero – nurturer, protector and encourager.
When the father models love to his wife, their mother, he is giving life instruction to his children. If you want to be a good father, be a loving husband, and a good mother, be a loving wife. Paul puts it simply “Submit to one another out of reverence to Christ”. If a couple truly love each other that will not be very difficult most of the time.
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” – Ephesians 5:25
“Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect..” – Peter 3:7
“Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.” – Colossians 3:19
Have a great week, and enjoy birding. Check out the rest of the pages on my website for birding information and inspiration for living a enjoyable life.