Happy Australia Day! all you Aussies out there enjoying the holiday weekend. It was hot and humid, though the cloud cover and sea breeze kept the morning more pleasant, so my wife and I decided to go looking for waders, as the tides finally lined up with our free time. I have not blogged waders this summer so far so I thought it time to visit the river mud flats of the Georges River, which flows into Botany Bay, the place where Captain James Cook landed at Kurnell to take on water in 1770. Eight years later on the 26th January the First Fleet of 1,420 people, mostly convicts, made the first British settlement in Sydney Cove in Sydney Harbour at the mouth of the Parramatta River, just a little up the coast from here. The small reef next to where Cook rowed to shore from the Endeavour, is now part of the Botany Bay National Park, with monuments and explanatory narrative signs .
This humble reef today is the scavenging ground of the endangered Pied Oystercatcher, endangered because it lays its eggs on beaches where people unwittingly inhabit.
This year has seen much protest and debate over the authenticity of this day as a true Australia Day, as many, original inhabitants and non indigenous fellow citizens call it ‘invasion day’, as many terrible atrocities followed in the pursuing years in a land wrongly reported originally to be terra nullius or no bodies land (uninhabited). Though the original inhabitants, unlike the greedy possessive British, never made ownership of their land an issue of power or wealth. They respected the land, preserved it and shared it. Some are advocating a compromise of a separate day for indigenous Australians. You may have wondered why my opening photo was seven Bar-tailed Godwits. Many of you know from my previous posts how much I love this – the world’s most endurant bird, which flies about 32,000 km a year migrating from Alaska to Australia and back again in one year. It travels around the moon, two and a half times in a lifetime. It is always where summer is, and currently is here after 16,000 km non-stop, 8 day direct flight across the Pacific Ocean. Yes, this same seven Godwits are back on the same beach mud flats again this year. Most people swimming and fishing on the beach have no idea how amazing these little birds are.
If you look carefully you will notice two of the males having bloches of orange breeding plumage. This will intensify in March, covering their whole neck and upper body before their exit flight to Alaska, where the females will give birth. You may see it better in these flight shots. It is interesting how they fly in a line, slip-streaming along. Click on photo to enlarge.
I apologise for the poor light and focus, as I had my prescription polarising sunglasses on at the time, which made photographing a real challenge not to mention the clouds. The photos further up the river were with my normal gasses. Also on my favourite wader beach was a pair of Pied Oystercatchers, not unlike the ones seen on the reef in Botany Bay. It is always encouraging to see these birds on beaches in NSW. Unfortunately they were grazing the beach apart from one another so there is no pair shot.
A golden moment was captured as this juvenile Silver Gull was pestering its mum for food, a common scene this time of year in many bird families. Notice how the mum tries to escape the persistent pestering. I apologise for the jerky video clip, again monopod was in car. See how they bob their heads lowering it to below the head of their parent as they beg. This custom is seen in many different species of juvenile birds begging.
After drinking our take-away coffees and complete our time there with a walk along the shoreline to get our feet wet, we headed off to one of my secret wader viewing areas near Taren Point Shorebird Reserve. The many waders that we see during the day on the beaches at low tide roost at night across the bay in the Towra Point Nature Reserve which is a locked up (restricted access) park cared for by Botany Bay National Park. Many shorebird species breed here and it is a significant bird conservation area for Australia.
One of the amazing features of the city of Sydney is that it is surrounded by many National Parks and nature reserves, and I mean surrounded all around it, coastal, bush land and mountain. Why secret spot behind the mangroves? Because this bird, the beautiful Eastern Curlew, our largest threatened wader is extremely timid and takes flight at the approach of humans. We were so thankful that our Lord gave us the gift of one on the day. Of course the bird finally saw us and took flight with his standard alarm call ‘cor-eek, cor-eek’. The Eastern Curlew is also a summer migrant to our shores.
A common resident wader nearby was the White-faced Heron, fishing the shores.
Then unexpectedly the appearance of another resident shorebird, the timid Striated Heron or Mangrove Heron as was its past name. In this case he was living among the mangroves. I have seen him here in past years, but not for a while, this could be one of the offspring, fishing the shallows of the shoreline, with his very classic crouching method, similar to the White-faced Heron.
It was quite spooky to note the coastal trees and mangroves were silent of birds. I have been saying it has been a ‘birdless summer’ here, and many species, especially waterbirds are not breeding here this year. maybe they know beforehand by divine instinct to be elsewhere through this extremely hot dry summer. However, the classic Australian Eastern Magpie has produced young this year, as we found this youngster walking on the grass at Taren Point Reserve. Note the brown immature colouring, not yet fully black and the dirty white neck, which resembles the female. This will change to pure white if it matures to a male.
Driving further up the Georges River beaches we found more Godwit and also some Australian White Ibis actually grazing where they should be, on the mud flats and not in city garbage bins, as they are known to do.
These Godwits did not mind us getting close to them at all. All of these waders showcased here today, with the exception of the Herons, are hunting for tiny mud crabs which burrow beneath the sand. At low tide these crabs often come to the surface or just below and are easily accessed in wet sand by long beaks both curved and straightish, as the Godwit beak is slightly curved upwards at the end.
With thankful hearts my wife and I returned home having had a small feast of waders ( viewing feast that is) on Australia Day morning. We did hear and see some Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo fly past in the distance but were not able to track down their landing spot. This last shot of a Silver Gull resting with one eye open reminds us of the need to be alert at all times due to the dangers of life that may surround us. Jesus warns us to be wise about the evils of this age we live in, but not to be afraid or alarmed: “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.” – Matthew 24:12
Many are wondering why the churches have lost their effectiveness, why integrity, respect, good will and justice have deteriorated in our society. Many are unaware as they disown Christian concepts and laws, which have given them many of the freedoms they currently enjoy in our western Post Christian society, that they stand to loose these freedoms, by their rejection of the One True God. These freedoms came from Godly caring people making a difference in a selfish society. The enemy of human souls, Satan, seeks to deceive the masses using fear through popular opinion, the media and so called political correctness to draw one’s life values from: “Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth.” -Revelation 20:7,8
So the message to us all is…
“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
“Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.” Mark 13:33
The Good News is that Jesus has defeated Satan and disarmed Satan by his death on the cross and resurrection from the grave, as a free gift for all who put their life’s trust in him, as their representative before God. He has broken Satan’s power and hold over death and won for us a victory which is free to all who put our trust and life in his hands, and receive the help and power of his Holy Spirit to live a life free of the fear and condemnation. Keep in mind that Satan might have a very threatening roar, which may evoke fear, but he is toothless, because Jesus has disarmed him. Through faith in Jesus we can overcome Satan like he did. We only give Satan power in our life when we believe his lies and allow fear rather than faith to rule our life. The only tool that Satan has to influence us in life is our fear, especially our fear of death. Jesus paid the price for all our wrong doing by taking all our punishment due to us, on himself when he died on the cross. For a child of God, Satan no longer has any power over them, unless they give it to him.
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” – 1 John 4:18
“…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. – Romans 8:37
Have a enjoyable, peaceful and restful weekend!
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