Last weekend we set off with some of our walking friends to the historic tiny township of St Albans to the annual Folk Festival, an event we love to attend. I have featured this in previous years posts, including the birds we saw there. It was raining a little but it did not dampen the spirits of many who attended. We stayed the night at The Retreat Resort at Wisemans Ferry near the bend in the mighty Hawkesbury River. Next morning after breakie we took a stroll in the reserve situated on the bend of the river near where the MacDonald River joins, and were amazed at the sound of many birds, especially the Noisy Friarbirds (living up to their name) feeding in the high eucalypt trees and lower Melaleuca (Paperbark Trees), which were all full of creamy white flowers.
The raucous call of the Noisy Friarbird could be heard all over the reserve as the small flock busily fed on the nectar from the flowers in the canopy.
While these birds look quite unusual, they are classified as honeyeaters all the same, following whatever blossom they can find. As blossom diminishes during the Winter months, the honeyeaters migrate to where they can find suffient nectar food. While all birds do live on an insect diet, this alone does not produce a healthy honeyeater, though some do eat more insects than nectar. People are often surprised to find that Australia has the largest number of honeyeaters, and wonder where they get all their nectar from. The honeyeaters have a specially designed tongue which laps up the nectar. Another bird feeding with the Friarbirds was the Red Wattlebird, yes, another honeyeater, with a call similar to the Friarbird.
We were excited to see this Blue-faced Honeyeater fly in to a palm.
Tree blossom not only attracts honeyeaters but flower eaters, which eat the nectar and the flower together. Many of our Lorakeets especially and also our Parrots include eucalypt flowers in their diet with native fruits and seeds. These Rainbow Lorikeets were noisily having a wonderful time in the blossom.
A female Australian King Parrot was also feeding, it lost its head having such a great time.
The most exciting find of the day was this small flock of Musk Lorikeets, a Lorikeet we seldom see. It also was feeding on the flowers with the other birds. This beautiful bird was difficult to see as it was constantly in among the blossom, and was so well camouflaged.
Here they are feeding…
What exactly does this ‘blossom’ look like and this unique tree with papery bark which grows in or by fresh water swamps and rivers?
The Satin Bowerbird, a native fruit eating bird, which eats insects, leaves and flowers, though it is not a honeyeater, was also sighted in the same trees, evading detection as they do, especially the males who are always camera shy. Notice how different the male is to the female. We did not find the bower.
Standing on the river, this small flock of Australian Wood Duck caught out sight both male and female. The male has the dark brown head. The male Wood Duck is one of the most faithful and ever present fathers I have ever seen in the bird world, while raising their young.
And what did little Willy Wagtail, who is purely insectivorous, think about all this hype about honeyeaters?
After a lovely quiet stroll through the reserve, we drove homeward, and as we did we passed tall eucalypt trees that sounded like a whole lot of bells chiming together. Of caourse these trees were full of the elusive and very difficult to spot, Bell Miner or ‘Bellbird’ as most know it. These birds, like other miners, are aggressive to other birds and take over large portions of forest, hence the loud sound of many bells, reflecting off the eucalypt leaves in a unique manner, similar to the Whipbird’s whip sound. Listen to their ringing, it can be quite deafening at times…
Here’s what they look like, birders know how to spot and photograph these difficult birds, which by their colour and rapid covert movement are so well camouflaged. These birds are insectivorous, but their main diet is a leaf insect beneath the eucalypt leaf called psyllids and their lerps (sugary secretions used as protective shelters by the tiny psyllid insects). They also eat nectar, though their beak is not designed for. These birds have a very complex community structure, my book explains this.
Bellbirds by Henry Kendall, a famous Australian poem, more famous for us because it was written not far from where I grew up, so our primary school class had to recite it in unison. The area where I would hear the bellbirds was on the side of a mountain, but it has a highway through it now and you can’t hear them any more. I remember seeing the waterfall near where he would sit, and where there was a rock bearing a plaque in his honour. Click on this YouTube link to see and hear the poem recited.
This old Kookaburra was watching us getting excited about the Musk Lorikeets and looked disgusted that we were not making a fuss over him…
So he just turned his back on us and sat alone in his tree, watching us out of the side of his eye.
It was a great find to see so many birds enjoying winter blossom supplied by our trees. We did see some roos resting and grazing by the road, they did not seem too amused, but made sure we did not approach as they rested in the warm autumn sun.
My thought for the day came from the headless female King Parrot.
This photo is an image of what appears to be a headless female King Parrot. One might suggest it is a fake, and the head was Photoshopped out. But the one who took the photo knows it is genuine and saw the head return to the bird as it became upright. Many people find it difficult to believe in God, and that he Created them and all we know. This is because they can’t see his head, so they choose to believe that the picture has been tampered with, by stories fabricated from the past. For many it is easier to believe a lie, than that there may be a good explanation for this photo, which they may not have considered. Evolution has never been proved as the means by which life came about, Darwin himself confessed the lack of evidence to support this aspect of his Origin of the Species before he died. Our foundation beliefs affect how we view ourselves, others and how we live our lives. Hope or no hope.
“Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” – Psalm 25:5
Check out my website Homepage for my latest pics of the Long-billed Corella and also check out my birding info pages. Have a wonderful weekend!
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