As the fires continue to devastate and consume our forests and townships we are all so thankful that countries and people the world over are coming to assist, or raising money to help the thousands left destitute with loss of homes, property and livestock. Millions of wildlife and trees gone, with many wildlife injured and being assisted as our country pulls together in the Aussie way. A nation founded on difficult circumstances, which coined the term ‘Aussie Battler’. The last two days have been much milder as a cold front comes through in the middle of Summer, with small falls of rain. This is giving some of the firies a chance for a short break and a chance for others to contain the threatening fires nearby. These fires have shown how truly vulnerable we humans are, despite all our modern inventions and plans. My wife and I are thankful that we have been spared so far, and only the daily unpleasant thick smoke is our main problem.
It has not been wise for us to travel far out of our city, so this weeks post highlights the importance of our local parks and reserves that we frequent on a regular basis. It is these parks that provide the normalization of our emotional and physical self. A 30 minute or more walk in a nature park has been shown scientifically to have very positive health benefits. These include lowering blood pressure, lowering stress levels and revitalizing ones mind and emotions, assisting to reduce depression. It allows us to become mindful in the moment and transfer our overcrowded mind to relax and enjoy the peaceful surroundings using our five senses. Our most frequented park as some of you know is Oatley Park Reserve which is only a 14 minute drive from home.
I love the beautiful eucalypt trees especially the angophora costata known as Sydney Redgum, which have a very interesting and pleasing scent to me which I love to inhale. This is the tree of choice for nesting Cockatoos and Lorikeets due to the holes it leaves when the branches drop off. This tree, due to its pinkish colour and unusual branching, is known as an artists delight. Thankfully, this park has so far been spared from the fires.
As I walk the same tracks and pathways week after week, hoping to see something different something new, I sometimes wonder what the local territorial birds, animals and reptiles, that have come to know me, are thinking. So here is some suggestions…
One bird I can always count on being in the same area every visit is this male Magpie. He knows me and identifies me with his intelligent ability to remember and describe each person with perfect facial recognition. Thankfully he sees me as his friend and allows me very close contact, unlike other passersby. One interesting skill these birds have learnt and mastered is that of being able to remove the stinger from insects before eating them, by holding it down with their foot and pulling it out with their beak.
Occasionally I see one of his fledglings which is almost mature in its second-third year of training. Look carefully and you will still see small patches of brown plumage and the dirty neck can mean its is a female, as usually the male neck is white by this stage, but may still be changing.
A main feature of this park is the Ponds where waterbirds breed, feed and rest. These also provide water to other birds. This water is maintained from storm water off the streets nearby. With the recent drought, as I showed in last weeks post, the ponds are drying up and becoming foul for the water fowl. This family of Chestnut Teal rest together by the pond, these birds do not seem to worry about the problem.
The drought has caused much stress to the trees in the park as many shed their leaves and some even have died and are falling down. But occasionally wild flowers are seen such as this Flannel Flower and this tiny native orchid. Look how beautiful the flowers are when you enlarge them, what a marvelous piece of artwork from a marvelous Creator.
While it is now Summer the forest is much quieter than usual for this time of year due to the drought and extreme temperatures so bird sounds are few, but one bird always brings joy and delight to my spirit when I hear his excited laughter like call and that is the Grey Butcherbird of which there are several families in the park.
On this visit it was unusual to see a Little Wattlebird, though they do come in from time to time. It is called Little but not for the wattle which is not there, but the bird being the smallest of the three wattlebird species. It sports a very unusual and interesting breast plumage.
There does not appear to be any nesting at the moment as most have finished but the Royal Spoonbill will be nesting in private away from here. This termite nest has been used by the local Kookaburra family for generations as a nesting place. Kookas bite a hole in the nest and take it over as a ready to go nursery. But it is very quiet at present as they have already fledged.
Last of all, this Echidna (Short-nosed Spiny-anteater) was sighted on the side of the track. This is the first time we had seen it here in the park. Others had told us it was there, and now we saw it. They are very shy and quickly move away when sighted.
We each need time out to be quiet and still, to wait, think and to listen. What better place than in your local birding park. Sit on a park seat, or just walk alone along the track, admiring the beautiful trees and birds, how each is uniquely different and individual, listening to the birds, feeling the breeze on your face, inhaling the sweet scents of the trees and flowers of the forest. Consider it all with a grateful heart of thankfulness for the beautiful surroundings you have had the privilege to enjoy. Consider all the many insects, birds, reptiles and animals moving about you in search of food, each knowing what it must do, without us even being aware. Consider your amazing body and its brilliant chemistry and physiology, working harmoniously with millions of processes per second perfectly timed and ordered, without any knowledge or effort from you. All taken care of by One who is intimately concerned with your well being. Unload your cares and worries there and let yourself be carried away in the peaceful stress-less moment. Be refreshed and re energized.
“I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done.” – Psalm 143:5
Have a great week and STAY SAFE!
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