One of the exciting delights about holidaying in other states of Australia, or any other country in the world, is the different bird and animal wildlife one encounters. This week we highlight some of the birds common to Far North Queensland but not found, or very rarely found here in Sydney NSW. Above one of our favorite birds we love to see up there is the Comb Crested Jacana or Jesus Bird as some know it, because it appears to walk on water, but actually lily pads in reality. This tiny bird is easily missed unless the rained eye is looking for them, though the red comb gives them away at times.
There long toes and light weight enable them to transverse water lilies with little effort, with short flights across distant pads. These birds are rarely seen in southern Australia, but were common many years ago in northern NSW but increasing population and habitat destruction has kept them up north. These birds do not like being near noisy people. Watch this short movie clip of a Jacana foraging on the water lilies for insects.
If you are up in the Cairns area, the Cattana Wetlands is a great place to see these birds, and is a local council success story to form sustainable wetlands areas, which many Australian local councils have cottoned onto as a great tourist drawing and local recreation area.
The other very shy and rarely seen bird found with the Jacana, is the Green Pygmy-Goose. Here is the male and female and a small family, not pleased with our presence. The bird appearing to be a female is most likely an immature male tagging behind its dad, doing what typically hungry young birds do, repetitively calling and bobbing their heads up and down, but dad attempts to escape. As you know the immature males look similar to the female until they gain their mature plumage which gives them their breeding licence.
Another bird which was more common here years ago but is seldom seen is the Magpie Goose, which is not technically a goose at all, but has its own peculiar classification. Many were killed for food, but thankfully they are protected and breed well in the wet tropics.
Walking along the Cairns Everglades boardwalk, which every birds in Cairns knows to do, just two hours before high tide, we saw this dark morph Eastern Reef Egret, a bird we never see in Sydney. We also saw what appeared to be the light morph nearby, though it could be an Intermediate as its legs appear more slender.
Back at Palm Cove where we did our daily bird walks through the local rainforest and well kept parks we saw several very commonly seen honeyeaters. The most common being the beautiful tiny Olive-backed Sunbird which is Australia’s closest version of Hummingbird. The mail has a brilliant metallic blue throat, and both have bright yellow under parts.
We watched this female Sunbird collect spider’s web to make her nest. They make a pocket or sock nest that is entirely held together with spider’s web.
The other two honeyeaters not so commonly seen were the Dusky and the Yellow which describes them by colour. As you can see above the flowering Mistletoe provides good nectar for most birds during this winter period, as it does down south. Notice the long curved beak of the honeyeaters for accessing deep into the tubular flowers such as the mistletoe.
Of course with the flowering Mistletoe comes the Mistletoebird which are also found in large numbers in the tropics. The brilliant red of the male stands out in the green tree. The female was quite shy and only one shot of her, she lacks the red on upper body. The last of this photo set is a favourite of mine with the male next to a red leaf.
The male and female Varied Triller is another bird not seen in out area. The male has the white chest and the female the striped., which is the case in the NE race leucomela.
A bird often heard calling from the canopy of fig trees was the Helmeted Friarbird which was just as noisy as its cousin the Noisy Friarbird, which we see from time to time down south. Notice the lovely almost low pile carpet light cap. We were blessed to see them out in the sunlight drinking from the gutter of a home near the park. They appeared to be a small family flock.
The Spangled Drongo would often join them feeding in the fig trees. These birds look brilliant in the sunlight with their blue sheen plumage, red eye ans classic tail shape which instantly identifies them.
There is always a special bird corridor spot on any birdwalk where you always want to go to and look and stand and wait for something to come along and the footbridge crossing the creek which led through the rainforest into the housing estate was our special spot. Along the creek my wife caught sight of the Orange-footed Scrubfowl which is endemic to northern Australia. We saw the bird in several other places also, scratching and foraging similar to the Lyrebird which is not found this far north. You know they are around as dawn and sunset they make their loud raucous blood curdling call.
But our most wonderful find here on the footbridge one morning and a wonderful gift to us, especially my wife, was this young Little Kingfisher. These birds are shy at the best of times but also very difficult to film as they usually are seen in rainforest only along rivers, such as the Daintree River where I got my first photos years ago, from a boat. This little fellow sat preening and just resting as we quietly observed. We were so delighted. I did not include the preening footage, but this shows its body bouncing as it moves its head.
This is Australia’s smallest Kingfisher, smaller than even the tiny Azure and again is endemic to northern Australia.
This footbridge across the creek through the rainforest each day gave us different and interesting birds, so it drew us back each day of our time in Palm Cove to be part of each walk. It crossed us over from the resort part of town to the residential area, a clear and noticeable change.
We cross many bridges in life’s journey, transitioning us from one season to another. The notable point being that we are transitioned to change. This occurs most frequently in times of grief and loss as well as in times of blessing and new beginnings (inheritance, job, partner, baby etc). Our acceptance and understanding of the transition will affect how we adjust to the change. As my wife and I discovered new revelations on this footbridge each day, so we have been blessed also with me being jobless at the same time as I discovered my heart problem and transitioned to a new season of lifestyle. During this time wrote a book, as I did on a previous transition some years ago, and many of you have purchased my book. The second deals more deeply with life using the birds to make it less confronting and more delightful to digest. However, I must patiently wait, which is difficult for me, and allow the editing and medical processes to take place, accepting it all as part of what must take place to bring us into our next season. King David of old recounts the blessedness of trusting and resting in God to take him over the many positive and negative life bridges he experienced in his very colorful and turbulent life journey.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” – Psalm 23: 1-4 (NIV)
Have a wonderful restful and satisfying weekend enjoying the birds and getting out and about in the fresh air!
If this is your first visit to my blog please explore my Website Homepage menu for more birding tips and info. Check out my book “What Birds Teach Us”, a great easy to read gift idea, which continues to get good reviews where people share how it has helped them and how it is a unique book. If you are concerned, it has been carefully written for all cultures and beliefs and does not preach or recommend any particular belief system, but is a counselling tool that encourages good life skills by using the birds and beautiful photos of them to relate to us. People from other cultures and beliefs different to my own, have shared how they love the book. You can purchase your copy here
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