Winter has finally come in all its coldness, which brings with it clear brisk sunny days which are great for bush walking and of course birding. Most of the venomous snake species are hibernating, and with recent rains many bird species are returning to their usual territories, as the forests start to rehydrate after a long hot drought.
I was delighted to find this pair of Tawny Frogmouth return to the same tree they deserted some months ago after a terrible storm that blew down the branch they sat on during the day. The female is the slightly smaller bird on the left hand side. Note the rufous on her shoulder. It is an excellent time to get out and discover new parks and reserves to explore, and find new birds and natural treasures. I was surprised to find Malabar Headlands National Park south east of Sydney, overlooking Maroubra and Malabar beaches, a small but well tracked and signed park. Click on photos to enlarge them.
It sits on top of a sandstone ridge, and has waterholes and markings of past aboriginal presence including rock art, stone axe-sharpening grooves and ancient middens. This was a meeting place for local tribes, having million dollar views of the ocean and coast line. The vegetation is scrubby, mostly low lying bushes with only a few Winter wildflowers in bloom, supporting the few honeyeaters that live in the park. Australian Native Fuchsia, Banksia ericiflora and Sydney Wattle are the main flowers.
The most predominant bird seen here and on most coastal heath lands and coastal forest is the New Holland Honeyeater, a very robust little bird found darting quickly through the bushes, and often seen sitting on high vantage points.
The greatest delight for me as I walked the track was to watch this pair of New Hollands bathing in a rock pool, a product of much needed recent rains. Here is a a series of one bird having his bath.
The Native Fuchsia flowering in winter provide nectar for one particular bird which is found here. A bird that has a specifically designed beak to insert its beak deep into these tubular flowers. This bird is of course the Eastern Spinebill which looks so stunningly beautiful in the sunlight. In the last photo you can see the bird accessing the tube of the flower.
A real gem of a find was this Brown Gerygone, a usually very difficult bird to photograph, as it is always on the move, and flees from humans, however I even managed to catch the bird hovering over leaves catching insects. It is very difficult to speciate these birds unless you can see the outspread tail and interpret its pattern. I was richly blessed to catch this bird while hovering and see its tail pattern which confirmed it as a Brown and not a Mangrove or Western specie. Notice how small this bird is, which makes it a challenge at times to even see it. This bird is mostly insectivorous, unlike the honeyeaters which thrive on nectar and insects.
This bird is known for its call which like its name sounds like ‘Gerigenee, Gerigenee’…
The most unexpected find at the outer rim of this park was this par of Red-whiskered Bulbul, which normally would have migrated north to the top of Australia, Indonesia & Malaysia, but here they are in Winter.
We all need to appreciate that some birding expeditions may only grant us a few different specie, no ‘lifers’ and nothing out of the ordinary. However, birding is more than just finding new birds, its taking in the beauty and serenity of the habitat that birds enjoy and thrive in. The plants, animals, landforms and scenery all make for a delightful experience, and together with the birds assist in earthing us and reducing our stress levels. Working in a lab where you do not see outside four walls much at all has its toll on ones well being week after week, and the weekend is time to get out and about in the fresh air and sunshine to revive ones heart and spirit, as God intended for us, especially in the cooler months. Thankfully I am entering my last week of full time work, and after our holiday up in Far North Queensland (which I hope to blog) I will reform my life to work part time, and continue writing my second book. If you have not purchased my first book, at least check it out on my birdbook page or see below.
I conclude with this last bird found in this coastal park, the Brown Thornbill. Look at the intent in this bird’s expressions, as it combs the trees and bushes for insects, calling as it goes.
This is a challenge to me to check myself to see if I am pursuing my life with such a passion in my commitment in relationships, work, family life and beliefs. We strive for excellence, not perfection, we seek to do our best, to make a meaningful contribution to our world where we live. Sometimes it might be a smile to a stranger, a random act of kindness and generosity, an unexpected word of appreciation or encouragement to someone who least expects it. Helping someone without them knowing you did it. Be creative and be a blessing and do it with passion, love and commitment, for this is the heart of God.
“Give generously and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. ” – Deuteronomy 15:10,11
“What Birds Teach Us” my current book release, can now be also purchased here online through PayPal or from many other private book stores click on this link to see the list Where My Book Is Sold. It is now available at seven major NSW National Parks (Environment & Heritage Shops). Ask your nearest one if they have it in stock, if they don’t have it in stock, ask them to get it in. Broome Bird Observatory, Echo Point Visitor Centre, Koorong Books and O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat Gift Shop also sells my book, as do several private book shops throughout NSW. You can also purchase your copy here from the side-bar. This is a great gift idea especially as Christmas draws near, a gift that will continue to keep on giving. Read the reviews and purchase your copy on my Birdbook page.
NOTE: All photos, videos and music used on this website are photographed, composed, performed by the site owner and remains his copyrighted 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 Should you desire to use any of the material published on this website please contact the author as a Comment or by email via the AboutUs page