Last Saturday my wife and I escaped the city to enjoy the solitude of the national parks in the Southern Highlands area of NSW to see what winter birds were around. We visited the Minnamurra Rainforest Centre in the Buddaroo NP and Barren Grounds NP. Two totally different habitats, one rainforest and one exposed open heathland. On arrival at Minnamurra we were being observed by this beautiful pair of King Parrots. These birds mate for life, and usually the female is very shy of humans, as she was here, flying away soon after our arrival. Click on photos to enlarge them.
I last visited this place in the rain, as you may remember my post Visiting Rainforests in the Rain but it is a lovely sunny partly cloudy day today. My wife snapped this pick of the Minnamurra River flowing down from the Minnamurra Falls, further up the mountain. We usually see and hear lyrebirds each visit to this park, and we were not disappointed as we saw this female Superb Lyrebird foraging by the track.
Soon after watching her forage, we saw an unusual event, the female lyrebird picked up some bark, flew up to a branch on the side of the hill and flew across to a large Bird’s Nest Fern on a tree below, depositing the material and then flying back down to forage. She may have a nest in the fern base, which is quite quaint considering the name of the fern comes purely from its appearance rather than its function. These birds tend to nest during winter, but usually in rock crevices, though this one has gone for the safety of the fern base. The female builds the nest and tends the young on her own while the male stands proudly on his leaf litter mound nearby, which we did not see.
The male lyrebird is always more elusive to film than the female, and the two males we saw were both young ones, still in the process of developing their mature tail feather plumage. This movie clip shows both sexes.
You will notice the developing tail plumage, with the bird on the left being more developed. The juvenile males look identical to the female until they begin to form their adult male plumage, and begin practicing the mating dance ritual. The one below on the left did this after it flew off, but we could not see it perform as it was under the cover of the forest.
One bird we always see in the same place is this Lewins Honeyeater, his mate the Pied Currawong, which is usually here also, and stole my bickie once before, was not to be found on this occasion, as we had our cuppa and cake.
The rainforest is a dark place for photography with telescopic lenses beneath the tall tree canopy, so birds are few, being mostly high above the canopy, and those that are seen are usually small and produce grainy photos due to reduced light, blurring slightly as they move. My main delight and interest in rainforests is seeking out the birds that forage in the leaf litter and run along the forest floor. The Lyrebird is one, which we always see, but the Logrunner and the Bassian Thrush are the rarer ones we hope to see, but did not see on this occasion. The adult Logrunner in my book came from this park.
One surprising close up capture was a pair of Brown Cuckoo-doves calling to each other, and some distant ones, which responded.
Of the small passerines we encountered we saw the usual Eastern Yellow Robin, White-browed Scrubwren, Grey Fantail and Brown Thornbill, though my shots of the Scrub-wren and Fantail were not good enough to keep on this occasion, due to poor lighting.
Yes, and we saw another pair of King Parrots.
We did not see a lot of birds, which is typical of winter, but I did assist in the sale of one of my books while there, which I signed for a delighted purchaser. The lovely staff of this centre have built a beautiful display which has been instrumental in selling many of my books. I was thankful I was there this day as this was the last book they had for sale, so I was able to replenish their supply.
Our next stop was further up the mountain off the windy Jambaroo Mountain Road in Barren Grounds National Park, the home of two endangered species, rarely seen. The Eastern Ground Parrot (which we have not seen yet) and the Eastern Bristlebird (which my wife had not seen yet, but which I had seen and posted in a previous post). My wife always says we never see anything much here and reckons ‘barren’ grounds is a good description. This heathland gives great protection providing habitat for these two endangered ground dwelling birds. The first bird we saw was the Eastern Bristlebird foraging, in the same place as last time.
If you look back at the last photo, you could mistaken this little bird for a mouse in the grass. Its fast bobbing, running movements are classic. This one became quite acquainted with our presence after a while and eventually allowed us close proximity. The Bristlebird gets it name from the bristle like hairs beneath its eye which are usually only seen close up on mature birds like the one below I saw on a previous visit. The one featured above is younger and more juvenile in appearance.
This bird is listed as ‘Endangered’ in Australia as it is only found in two small pockets of heathland forest in NSW, here in Barren Grounds and also in Jarvis Bay NP.
We did not find the Ground Parrot, as usual, but my wife was pleased with seeing her new lifer, and we walked on to find the Yellow-faced Honeyeater, New Holland Honeyeater, and the Eastern Spinebill as the main passerine birds seen. Of course the Eastern Yellow Robin was there also. Was it following us from Minnamurra?
This pair of Little Wattlebirds looked great in the afternoon sun together on this dead branch. These birds are also honeyeaters but called wattlebirds because of the wattle their red and yellow wattle bearing cousins have. The Little Wattlebird lacks a visible wattle.
While there are very few nectar bearing flowers at present, compared to when I was last there, and there were so many, there were some, even very very early wattle.
Lastly, we saw this pair of Eastern Crimson Rosella on this branch.
We left for a late lunch just before a large fog cloud moved in, having met two lovely couples also visiting the park, including a pair of local photographers and a pair of visitors from France. While in the rainforest I snapped this photo of this tree with several Elkhorn epiphytes clinging to it, reminding me of the dependency that these plants have on the tree. They just hang off it, they just stick onto the tree without intruding on it, clinging, dependently on the tree to supply its food from falling leaves, positioned to flourish and grow.
This reminds me of our dependency on my God’s provision for me, as I cling to Him and trust in Him to provide my needs, I flourish and grow, mentally (emotionally), physically, socially and spiritually just as Jesus did as man.
Like the Elkhorn and Birds Nest Fern plants, we flourish as we position ourselves to receive from God, allowing his Holy Spirit to drop his wisdom and guiding truth into our spirit. Like the Birds Nest Fern mentioned earlier, becoming a nest for the lyrebird. We may be blessed with the added bonus of being a place of growth and nurture for others as they draw from our love, joy, peace and wisdom which we have received.
“And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” – Luke 2:52
““Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” – John 5:19
Have a wonderful week and keep warm when out birding, especially if it is windy, wrap a scarf around the neck, as we move into winter.