The warmth of the winter sun is so welcome, and the brisk freshness of the mountain air, beneath a deep blue cloudless sky make winter birding a pure delight. We begin our afternoon walk in the Royal National Park as Rainbow Lorikeets prepare to nest during the winter months in preparation for spring fledging. They now claim their tree holes in preparation, though some are already underway.
Sulfur Crested Cockatoo make a raucous commotion as the small flock are sent into alarm due to a passing raptor. Notice how their sulphur crests (cones) flare up when they are alarmed, this is meant to deter their aggressors. They will soon be pairing to nest also. Click on photos to enlarge them.
We brought a friend along for the walk and she was quite confident that it was fine to walk into the tall grass because it was winter and the snakes were already in hibernation. However, she was surprised when I told her that the Red-bellied Black Snake, a common venomous reptile, did not necessarily do so. She seemed quite brave till she jumped with fright as she saw right next to her a large Red-bellied Black Snake basking in the winter sun beside the track. After a photo shoot we continued on, as they were getting concerned that the snake was taking interest in them. This snake, though venomous is not usually aggressive, unlike the Brown and Tiger Snakes. The second photo show some of the underlying red belly.
As I have mentioned previously, winter birding can be disappointing due to inclement conditions and simply fewer birds, due regional and international migration. One of the gifts we were granted on this occasion was this beautiful male Rose Robin. We could not find a female in the vicinity, but he was simply a winter delight, as these birds and others move north to escape the cold winter of Victoria, which is why we do not always see them. I sometimes call winter Robin Time.
Of course our Eastern Yellow Robin stays with us throughout the year, and is often the only Robin we will see, as it is a curious bird, and will often come quite close to check you out, as this one did.
We did not see any Lyrebirds on this occasion as many people were noisily walking and bike riding along the track, but we could hear them calling in the valley. I almost ran into an Eastern Whipbird as it was about to come out onto the track, the bird and I both got a surprise.
This Brown Gerygone was a gift winter bird we do not always get to photograph as it stays hidden among the lower brush, and is another immigrant spending winter with us. This a small insectivorous bird similar to a Thornbill.
One bird we saw many of during our walk was the beautiful Eastern Spinebill. This honeyeater was everywhere extracting nectar from the Bottlebrush and Banksia flowers in the bush by the track. These flower heads along with Mountain Devil, are the sustaining source of nectar during the winter months till spring flowers start to arrive in August.
The Scarlet Honeyeater was also present high in the eucalypt canopy, but eluded me of photographic evidence, and it was joined by the Yellow-faced Honeyeater in great number also at this time.
The Australian King Parrot sat quietly in a tree and went unnoticed till I heard the male call. It is not often that I get to capture the elusive and shy female, who often flies off immediately she is spotted. The male has the bright red head and chest. The female flight shot was another gift. It is the time of year when the red birds increase and stand out against the green backdrop.
The chattering staccato call of the Lewins Honeyeater is heard continuously as we walk. They are also in large numbers at this time, though rather than feeding on nectar, they feed on the ripe figs at Fig Flat off the great fig tree at the beginning of our walk. Here are some shots of one eating this ripe fig piece by piece. Australia has over 100 varieties of native fig which provide food for many of our native birds. These figs ripen at various times throughout the year providing a constant food source. Most of our rainforest pigeons, bowerbirds, parrots and catbirds as well as honeyeaters enjoy a ripe fig when they are available.
Some of the flowers we saw apart from the early wattle were the Spider Grevillea and the huge stems of the Gymea Lilly about to open.
In the opening of the rainforest this interesting pandanus like fan palm makes a beautiful sight.
We returned from our walk and sat by the river as the sun slipped behind the mountain, and the cold air drifted into the valley. We watched this pair of Australasian Grebe reflect off the still water. After our prayer and thanksgiving time together we were granted a reappearance of the Rose Robin, but he left before I could retrieve my camera, besides the light was fading quickly.
The faithful Laughing Kookaburra are always present in the same areas of the park, just watching all the human activity and waiting for a food opportunities. As the sun slipped behind the mountain we made our way home.
My thought for the week comes from this faithful pair of Tawny Frogmouth that spend each day sleeping in the same eucalypt tree, returning from their night food hunt. They sit snuggled together in a tree fork.
However, on one occasion the male noticed my presence and started to take on a form of camouflage and quite instinctively made himself look like a part of the tree by raising his head. It is interesting that he thought he might disappear from my sight while he took on this camouflage, but he was still visible, while I watched, having already spotted him.
Had I not already known where to find this bird I probably would not have noticed it. In fact I have previously walked past this tree many times before and never noticed it. It was a friend who told me the exact location. This reminds me how important it is to be wise to and aware of the tricks of the devil (our enemy) in our lives. If we walk around unaware and not alert, we can be taken by surprise and find ourselves regretting bad decisions and bad attitudes and bad behaviour. We need to take Solomon’s wise words to heart: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” – 1 Peter 5:8
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” – Ephesians 6:10
PLEASE NOTE:- All photographic material on this website is copyright protected and can only be used with written permission from the author of this blog. Email facility exists on our ABOUTUS page for this purpose.