As we approach Spring in one weeks time after the hottest and driest winter and previous summer, we pray and wait for good rain to come, as the worst Winter bushfires continue to blaze. The Wattle has been flowering for weeks, but the bird that tells me it is Spring, the beautiful Golden Whistler, has been silent and elusive during the recent Winter months, as per usual. Last weekend for the first time I heard several singing their hearts out, though the female I saw was still very quietly moving about. Usually, one has to hear these birds singing before they are able to spot them, otherwise they silently go unnoticed. Click on photos to enlarge them.
Why does the male start singing in Spring you ask? Three possible reasons which all have to do with breeding and nesting. He sings to attract a mate, and when he gets a mate, he sings to communicate. When she nests, his excitement rises, and as an expectant father, he rejoices all through the Summer months. I was so delighted to catch this following footage of this bird continually singing to his mate nearby.
This Spring, due to the dry unseasonable Winter, has resulted locally in a reduction in bird numbers and breeding numbers, however I will share more of those resident birds that are preparing to increase their number and form families. The Australian Black Swans at the Hunter Wetlands have already made a great start with this lovely brood of cygnets.
Other waterbirds preparing for nesting are these Grey Teal, getting acquainted as they have a quite paddle together.
While nearby another swan has only just started nesting having built its mound of reeds and grasses. Nesting mounds are not normally this large, but it needs to be high enough to escape rising water in the wetland..
Other wetland dwellers include this Australasian Swamphen with its one little chick, not long out of the egg.
There was a moment of alarm for them both as this white ibis flew over to land.
We also noticed one of the Emu at Blackbutt Reserve was nesting…
This Pied Currawong had already built and the high pitched chirps could be heard coming from high in the eucalypt tree, as the parent went to and fro bringing food.
Their cousins the North Eastern Australian (Black-backed) Magpie had couple of youngsters already quite brave enough to land quite close to my wife and I as we were walking Friday before sunset. Note the brown back plumage which has not fully changed, and the scallapping of chest plumage.
These birds are now thought to be the worlds most intelligent birds along with the Australian Raven. The Australian Magpie has not only the most complex and beautiful song but is able to play, learn, talk and do many other skills. This juvenile is learning from its father who is warbling in a tree behind as it stands boldly without fear an arms length from me.
The Australian Magpie is not shy of humans and attacks them quite viciously during nesting season if it deems them a threat. Yes, nesting season is approaching again. Ow! However if you are friend to them, they will not attack, as Ausiebirder has experienced in the past, the person standing with me being repeatedly attacked while I am ignored and left unscathed. This educational YouTube clip will enlighten you more. Cyclists and joggers pose the most threat to magpies and will attack repeatedly, sometimes causing a bleeding wound injury.
Listen and watch as this male ‘maggie’ sings, you will hear the female respond from nearby, and the sound of the Pied Currawong in the background making its sunset call. Please excuse the poor focus.
Another much smaller passerine undergoing preparation for the new breeding season is the Superb Fairy-wren. The males are in eclypse morphing to full breeding plumage, having spent the winter looking very much like the female, but for the blue tail. Notice the blue patchy colour starting to form. One male (pictured below) is almost finished morphing whereas the other has only recently begun. Notice the last pic where a breeding and non-breeding male are together in the one frame.
Walking further we found this beautiful White-faced Heron developing breeding plumage, looking for fast food from this stream flowing. He will be looking for a mate soon also.
Lastly, a most interesting observation as the resident Laughing Kookaburra pair in Oatley Park Reserve have reinhabited the white ant nest again this year for their own nest. I have showed in previous years blogs how they have nested here, and they are doing it again. One checks the nest while the other guards from outside.
Quite surprisingly, this Rainbow Lorikeet was about to challenge the ‘Kooka’ for the nest. These birds can be aggressive, but strange that it would challenge the mighty Kooka, which could easily kill and eat it or its babies. Maybe it wanted the hole for a nest also. This was the result…
After the trouble passed and the babies were safe the Kooka couple sat guarding together nearby the nest.
How lovely to see the romantic moment where this couple demonstrate how relationship is bonded and strengthened as a result of sharing children together.
During breeding one can distinguish, with difficulty, the male from the female, as the male has blue vertical back band at the top of its tail plumes. You can determine which is the male from my photo below…
And so we leave them …
Also in the coastal Angophora costata forests of the Sydney region both the Rainbow Lorikeet and the Sulfur-crested Cockatoo have already been occupying nesting holes. We also await the return of the migratory waders as well as migratory passerines spending the Winter in the warmer top end of our land, New Guinea and South-East Asia. During the next few weeks the migratory waders will make their 16.000 km journey across the Pacific Ocean or via the Asian coast from Alaska and the Arctic Circle to our beaches, after breeding and feeding in the northern hemisphere during our Winter months. I previously thought Godwits migrated in formation like geese and duck but they fly single file as below, possibly slipstreaming. When you travel non-stop for 8 days direct without stopping you need a little help from your friends.
Life is in seasons – that is how God made it to be. My wife and I have been entering a new season of our lives together. It is a blessing to understand and accept that each different season we enter is a positive experience meant for our growth, preparation and understanding of the next stage in life will bring. My wife continue to work part-time as my company want me to stay till October and assist training staff, and she wants to further reduce her hours. Seasons bring with them both blessings, and challenges which can also become blessings, if approached within the context of a God centred world view, knowing that a loving Heavenly Father has our best at heart.
“When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other.” – Ecclesiastes 7:14
“Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” – Acts 14:17
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11
Have a wonderful week, and enjoy the birds!
Thanks again for wonderful comments and reviews I continue to receive from those who have purchased my book here online and from the many stores that now stock it. If you have not yet bought your copy or even explored what it is about, then go to my Birdbook page. You can purchase it there or here in the sidebar. I have found several places I visited it was sold out and they had not realised they had even sold their display copy.
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