Continuing our Far North Queensland birding adventure we share this week two major lifers. A true lifer for me is one that I spot and photograph in the wild in its usual habitat. It was in a beach side park on Magnetic Island, a resort island just off the coast of Townsville that we saw our first Blue-winged Kookaburra (see male above). Magnetic Island gets its name because of the apparent “magnetic” effect it had on the ship’s compass of Captain Cook as he passed the island when sailing up the east coast of Australia in 1770. Click on photos to enlarge them.
The wonder of our discovery was that we saw both mail and female together in the same tree, and they were not afraid to sit and watch us give them so much attention. The key differentiation feature is their tail. The male has a blue tail and the female a brown (see above).
These Kookaburras not only look different to our Laughing Kookaburra but they also sound different. In their almost cricket like call, undertones of their cousin can be heard.
Both specie of Kookaburra are found up here. This Laughing Kookaburra was singing while he held his prey in his mouth. A pair of Blue-faced Honeyeater, which are known to be aggressive, looked like they were about to take him on but it was a stand off. They may have a nest nearby to protect.
The Laughing Kookaburra puts the true “Kook, Kook” sound into Kookaburra.
Seeing the the pair of Blue-wings was a real treat for us, especially seeing the male flying as you can see below. Here you can see the difference in species. They both have blue on their wing but the Blue-winged as much more.
While spending a day on the island we saw several raptors including an immature bedraggled Brahminy Kite, a Whistling Kite, Rainbow Bee-eater, and two kinds of Kingfisher, both Forest and Sacred. It was interesting to see the Sacred Kingfishers on the beaches. We drove around looking for a lagoon we could not find access to and passed a grassed fenced cow paddock and saw these Agile Wallaby grazing as were Straw necked Ibis.
As we admired the Wallaby we noticed two strange creature resting under a small tree right in the centre of the field, YES! they were the Bush Stone-curlew, we were looking for on the island, as we were told they are common here. They are usually in pairs, resting in the day and hunting at night where they feed on feed on insects, molluscs, small lizards, seeds and occasionally small mammals. They were some distance from the road.
The next day, back in Townsville as drove through a noisy intersection we saw a very large fenced oval in one of the suburbs, when my wife excitedly called out “There they are, pull over quickly!” There were about twenty Bush Stone-curlew occupying family groups all around the field, keeping distance from each group. They appeared safe from dogs in this closed area which they could move out from at night. They rested out in the open using their camouflage plumage and remaining completely motionless. They appear to stand looking male to female but this is pure protection as they cover each others back from all directions. It is safer to stand in an open field where you can easily see who is approaching, so you have no surprise attacks, and there is time to fly to safety.
A dog in a ute started barking while the car waited for the lights to change which set the bunch into alarm calls for a minute or more. The dog had been driven away, but they continued to cry for a time. This is how it sounded:
Here is some video footage from the same field:
That night we decided to eat at a lovely waterside restaurant on The Strand. To our amazement and delight we saw many Bush Stone-curlew walking around the streets, waterfront reserve and beach hunting. Many people were also out going to and from dining venues and the birds kept their distance but seemed tame enough to walk around us walking away when approached, something they had possibly done for many years as they shared this space with humans at night. We often heard the screaming of these birds at night as they met socially and hunted, however they appeared to hunt individually, returning to their safe havens by morning. This was a daily occurrence in Townsville and Magnetic Island. Sadly I did not have my movie camera with me to capture footage of this, but next time your in Townsville at night you can see it for yourself. So there you have it, two wonderful lifers we experienced.
So it was the sighting of these Agile Wallaby that caused us to notice the birds we were seeking, and could not find, as they were standing in the same paddock, but under the cover of a small tree. God sometimes is trying to teach us something in life but we fail to see or understand what it is, even though the truth he wants to convey is right in front of us. So he positions the Wallaby to catch our attention and finally cause us to notice what is right before us, but standing under the tree. So often we look for life’s answers in the wrong place, from the wrong source or the wrong people, when God in his loving kindness keeps pointing us back to his promises and assurances given to us through faith access in Jesus. To do this he helps us refocus and re direction our looking by replacing the wrong with the right advice, from the right source by the right person. God’s book the Bible gets us back on track.
“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” – Psalm 119:105
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart’ and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight”. – Proverbs 3:5,6
“The mocker seeks wisdom and finds none, but knowledge comes easily to the discerning.” – Proverbs 14:6
Simon Peter answered him [Jesus], “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” – John 6:68
Take a look at my HomePage there is a new addition in Something Special.
Before you go you might like to view my personal Blood Moon shots from the lunar eclipse early Saturday morning on my BloodMoon page.
Thank you Takami from Japan and other followers who have recently purchased my book here online, and thank you for the wonderful encouraging reviews I have received. For those who have not checked it out, you can read for yourself Takami’s comment/review is on my birdbook page. Check out the rest of my website for birding info at my Homepage.
Have a wonderful week!
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