As you will have gleaned from my recent posts and those of other Australian bird bloggers, our persisting heat waves and drought conditions are having negative effect on our birdlife and their breeding patterns this Summer. Funny enough this week has been mostly unseasonably cooler and raining a little. The above photo depicts pictorially a sleeping reserve, with few birds and a haunting silence in many of the trees that rang with song last Summer.
This Royal Spoonbill with breeding plumage is awakened by the ring of my phone when my wife rang. The Chestnut Teal joined the sleepy scene, as the murky remains of street drainage waters, which replenish the ponds, continues to evaporate. Many different waterbirds are not here and not breeding here this year, as the murky, dirty, slimy waters dry up. Breeding may not be occurring for this bird, as Spoonbills are very private breeders, and the slightest disturbance by humans can cause them to desert the nest. Note head plumage and red dot on forehead. Maturity is denoted by the yellow mark above the eye which gives the false impression to would be intruders that their eye is always watching , even when it is closed. Click on photos to enlarge them.
A recent post by Maralee explored the question as to why birds stand on one leg while resting or sleeping. Birds have a ‘rete mirabile’ system in their legs where the veins and arteries are next to each other facilitating a more economic conservation of heat energy by tucking one leg up under their body. The legs are very vulnerable to heat loss, and most of their heat loss occurs here.
Interestingly enough birds continue to do this in the heat of our summer, as can be seen here, and as was seen in my Silver Gull pic in my last weeks post. There is also a suggestion that they may rest their legs by alternating them this way. The absence of the usual breeding ducks, water fowl and passerines of both resident and migrant birds is noticeable. One pair of Chestnut Teal only was seen, where usually their are four to six breeding pair.
The only breeding birds seen were this Dusky Moorhen, and even the parents seemed smaller than usual due to the slim pickings of the current murky dry pond system.
In such a lonely situation, it was quite curious that this White-faced Heron and Royal Spoonbill (both decked out in breeding plumage, but not seeming to be breeding) had struck an uncommon friendship. These birds have almost oposit ways of obtaining their food, though they are both waders. The Spoonbill sweeps the water with its wide bill to find food and the Heron stands patiently still and waits till it sees its food and then stretches its long neck and catches it quickly in its narrow beak.
What makes this story more interesting is that when I walked back, quite sadly due to the absence of birds, to my surprise I see these two birds sharing a branch high up on a tall eucalypt tree. This is quite strange, as neither of these birds are passerines, and generally only land in low lying trees or mangroves if at all, and usually to rest or escape predatory danger. See how high they are!
This little aside made my visit worthwhile and was a special gift given to cheer me up. Notice how the Heron extends its neck fully. This is to deter the predator by scaring them of because of the height of the bird. When you see herons do this they probably have seen you as a threat.
Individually these birds are beautiful examples of their species. see how snuggly the heron pulls its neck back in when it feels safe again. This neck can extend with lighting speed and precision when it strikes small fish in the shallows.
My final photo is of this small Eastern Water Dragon sunning itself, who scampered off the track on my approach. These lizards can swim in fresh water creeks, lakes and rivers, similar to crocodiles, by sweeping their tail side by side. These are a common sight catching the sun on hot sunny days along the pathway.
I finsh my short post for this week with my favourite photo of the day.
The question I pondered on afterwards was: Do these two very different birds really have a special friendship, or did it just happen to be that they landed on the same branch, and share the same water hole? As my book describes the Red-necked Avocet and the Black-winged Stilt do have a special relationship, flocking and feeding together.
I finish with a simple message, that to make and continue to be friends, where ever possible, with all people we meet in life’s journey, thus bringing peace and security to one’s life. This can be a great asset to either party in a time of need or difficulty. This does not mean that we throw wisdom and discernment to the wind. One still needs to know the difference between a few reliable friends one has grown to love and trust and those many acquaintances to whom one has been friendly but are in no close relationship.
“A friend loves at all times” – Proverbs 17:17
“One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” – Proverbs 18:24
“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” – John 4:11
Have a wonderful week, and may the Summer birds return before the season is over! Check out the rest of my website for birding info and check out my book. Purchase it online or at one of the listed retail outlets.
NOTE: All photos, videos and music used on this website are photographed, composed, performed by the site owner and remains his copyright property, unless otherwise stated. The use of any material that is not original material of the site owner is duly acknowledged as such. © W. A. Hewson 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018