Last week my wife and I went for a longer than usual walk into the rainforest in the Royal National Park. We have been enjoying these long walks in the fresh sunny Autumn weather, and it has been therapeutic emotionally and physically as I continue to come to terms with social distancing, accepting retirement, my camera still being repaired and my book promotion put on hold.
Continuing from my previous post we left early in search again for the female Superb Lyrebirds nesting, as Autumn is the time when she builds the nest and lays her eggs, while the male continues to do his song and dance performances to woo his female fans for mating. Click Here for some of my previous footage, which some of you have seen, to give you an idea how they dance to their own beat, and use their repertoire of mimicry to impress the female.
Male Lyrebird performing mimicry
Male Lyrebird dancing to his own beat.
Like the Bowerbird, the males spend most of their life, and time practicing their performance for that short period of several weeks when they mate. Notice the female photo above (again the work of my dear wife, who wants to thanks those who complemented her for her beautiful Fairy-wren photo featured last week)) has an ordinary feathered tail and a rufous throat, unlike the beautiful male tail. As we walked deeper into the forest we noticed increased scratchings by the track, and soon we started finding the females preparing their nests and just very quietly foraging for food.
It was not long before we found what we were looking for, a female collecting sticks and moss for the nest. Again, she was very careful to not give away the location of the nest. I watched how particular she was collecting the correct stick. She would stop, add to the bundle, pick it up and move to her next pick up.
This particular day we saw no males, though the following week I saw 3 males and 3 females. As we made our way through the forest our stress levels fell and we felt more relaxed.
We started hearing and then seeing the White-throated Treecreeper ascending a tree, silently. Usually you only find them by hearing their loud repeating call. This is a female, because of the orange spot on her ears.
As she ascended you will hear in the background the sound of another Treecreeper climbing, foraging for grubs and insects in the bark of the eucalypt tree. This is a bird seen in greater number during the colder months.
The Golden Whistler is quieter during the winter months also. The males are usually hard to spot during Winter months, as they are shy and not singing as much as they Sing in Spring. The females on the other hand are very curious and will come close to get a good look at you.
One bird you will always hear in our rainforest all year round is the Lewin’s Honeyeater. Their call is similar to the Treecreeper but much faster in staccato. You may remember the call from a previous post, it was also in the background of the female Golden Whistler clip (above).
On this occasion I was able to get closer. Most of our Honeyeaters migrate around following blossom, and avoiding colder weather, but the Lewin’s is a rainforest Honeyeater and is usually territorial remaining all year round, similar to the Miners and Wattlebirds.
One of the encouraging signs after the drought beginning to break from recent rains, is the sound of the many Eastern Whipbirds, which went very quiet during the driest part of last year, as they forage on the forest floor turning moist leaf litter for grubs and insects, in moist gullies. They are very elusive birds, and in my early birding years had me standing for hours trying to catch a glimpse. This one eluded us also.
Eastern Whipbird sees us and plans his escape
Eastern Whipbird making his gettaway
As we finished our 9 km walk we noticed this Australasian Darter resting, and doing an excerpt from some Bird Ballet for a few seconds.
My contemplation for this week comes from the following film clip during my rainforest walk this week. The National Park was spared the horrific bushfires this past year, but has been burnt out years ago in 1994 with a horrific fire click here to see some of the photos. This tall straight forest hardwood in the thick of the rainforest was burnt out but continues to grow strong, because enough of the vital cambium layer just under the thick bark, which feeds the tree, survived the intense heat and fire.
This tree reminded me of me, when years ago I suffered burn out from being too busy and too stressed from the demands of job, family and life itself. Thankfully with God’s provision and help I survived and managed to to come back even stronger, like the tree, which spurred me on to study family counselling and write the books. While I remain connected and rooted firmly to my Life Source I can continue growing and enjoying life, having learnt how to avoid further burn out. My birding walks help achieve this,in a mindful way, like Adam (the first man) I can walk and talk with God alone in his beautiful garden, and be at peace, because I have come to realize his faithful love and provision for me. If you feel safe to check out my Birder Sanctuary pages you will see some of the principles that helped me through the difficult times, and continue to. Interesting enough God used birds to teach, help and even feed man many times throughout history, and Jesus mentions them more than any other animal.
Enjoy your week, and especially enjoy a fresh appreciation of freedom, food, family and friends and our beautiful country as we begin to navigate a new normal as we hopefully come out of the Covid Crisis.
My Mission: To encourage all people to make good life choices, using birds to teach important life skills.
W. A. Hewson (Adv. Dip. Counselling & Family Therapy).