On the Anzac Day Holiday my wife and I left early with a batch of fresh Anzac Biscuits for a drive up into the Southern Highlands to Barren Grounds National Park, home of two of Australia’s most elusive and endangered bird species, the Eastern Ground Parrot and the Eastern Bristlebird. Some of you know I have featured the Bristlebird on previous blogs in past years, including its youngsters, but in all our visits to this important heathland habitat, have never sighted the Ground Parrot. The comforting thought is that most birders have come away disappointed also, and very few have ever had the gift of seeing this bird, and even less of capturing a clear image. Both birds live on the ground beneath the heathland and are very very human shy and the Ground Parrot is usually only seen as a bright green blur streaking away when it is flushed out of the low lying heathland scrub, as it rapidly goes for cover. Jervis Bay National Park is the only other place these birds are known to be found. After a couple of hours searching we found one Bristlebird, but not on the ground where we usually find them, this one was sitting in a low lying bush. The Bristlebird gets its name from the small strong bristles below its beak which are only noticeable on close inspection. Click on photos to enlarge them.
We set out on the Lookout Walk which gave extensive views across the Illawarra Valley and coast.
On our walk we noticed the prevalence of several winter birds mainly the Yellow-faced Honeyeater was in numerous small flocks, constantly moving through.
Next numerous were the Eastern Spinebill, one of my favourite honeyeaters, and so beautiful in the sunlight.
I have never seen so many Red Wattlebirds in one place in such a large flock, also an occasional Little Wattlebird. These birds are also honeyeaters.
The New Holland Honeyeater is also in large number here, flitting about from tree to tree.
I managed only to get one shot of the rarer White-faced Honeyeater and the not so rare Lewin’s Honeyeater
How come so many birds here on the highland heathlands at a time when birds are usually much less on the coast? What are they eating for food, as many of the flowers will not appear till early Spring? There are several spring flowers flowering very early here as well as the usual Bottlebrush, flowering gum, Boronia and also a flowering Grass Tree, attracting birds and bees to its tasty nectar. The Barren Grounds Wattle is even flowering at present!
Of course we always see the Eastern Yellow Robyn when we visit here, with his curious observation of us watching him. There are a number of ‘Eastern’ prefixes to these birds, as they are found only in this part of Australia, along the eastern coast. The Robin is mainly insectivorous. The honeyeaters are also, but they are healthier with a diet of nectar included.
After our morning tea with Anzac bickies and coffee on a bench in among the trees, we saw a juvenile Eastern Crimson Rosella. Yes another Eastern!
After a chat with some other visiting birders we met there, and accepting that we would not see the Ground Parrot on this occasion, we drove back down the windy mountain road to Jamberoo and the Minnamurra Rainforest Centre, one of the major sellers of my book, and home to many Superb Lyrebird. It was encouraging to see my display looking so good, and the continuous video I made was playing.
We did the rainforest walk loop before lunch and during lunch this male Lyrebird decided to dig two feet away from our table. I want you to look carefully at this video and tell me if you can tell me what is abnormal about this bird.
Notice also the beautiful lace like fibers of the tail. These are spread over his head when he performs his courting dance, a dance he practices daily from a young age.
By now we were quite tired having left early in the morning and walked for so long. We left satisfied that we had an enjoyable time in the warm not so hot autumn sun exploring this important bird habitat, though the Ground Parrot remains on our ‘bucket list.’
The point of interest inspiring thought arising from the day, was this male Lyrebird. Looking at him from a profile perspective, he looks quite normal and our attention is turned more to the birds whole body and digging action, however, when he walks away and we see him from the rear we notice he only has one set of tail plumage and not two. This is important when he spreads his tail over his head, it would also make his walk a little unbalanced. We don’t know why his is missing the second tail section but it does not make him any less of a Superb Lyrebird. This is the same for each of us when people view us and our actions, We are all ‘broken’ people in some way or other but we hide it from the world by the perspective we allow others to see. It takes a lot of courage to allow our vulnerability for others to see and view the real you, where you can share your weaknesses and shortcomings without fear or shame or pride obstruction. This can be not only healing for you but for those you share with, as it gives opportunity for others to open up and share burdens they may have been carrying for many years, but never felt safe to share.
“Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting. ” – Psalm 139:23,24 (NIV)
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On my Home Page you will see my latest update on my Special Something section of my Home Page, with the Long-billed Corellas we saw on the way to Barren Grounds.Have a wonderful week!
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