Last Friday my wife and I filled our Thermos flasks and packed my freshly baked Anzac biscuits to my original recipe (my best ones yet) and drove just over one hour, up to the Southern Highlands for the day on a birding date now that restrictions are lifting. After a lovely breakfast at the Bowral Cafe we made our way to Belmore Falls where we had our morning coffee and bickies, after discovering the amazing absence of birds. It was a perfect Winter’s day, sunny crisp 10°C very quiet, so we basked in the ambiance and serenity of the moment and crunched on another bickie, as there were just a couple of Wattlebirds chasing each other.
This part of the Great Dividing Range, similar to the Blue Mountains region, rise up out of the valley as if they have been cut vertically with a knife. We drove to the largest falls with the longest drop, Fitzroy Falls in the Morton National Park where we usually see Lyrebirds performing, but they were not present today, as most are nesting, though the falls was on full display. After a chat with Sally in the visitor centre, to discover they have sold out of my book, we made our way to the falls. I love watching the ribbons of water falling and finally melting deep in the valley on the rocks below.
You can see what I mean by the sheerness of the drop.
We drove through the little country town of Robertson where hundreds of Long Weekend people were swarming to the popular tourist shops and cafes, making up for lost time. We saw this and thankfully drove off to a much higher, very recluse, part of the mountain known as Barren Grounds National Park, which some will remember we have visited on many occasions in the past, usually in pursuit of the extremely rare and endangered Eastern Ground Parrot, which most birders never ever see, as it is just as recluse.
As we walked long the track we noticed both a lack of flora and fauna, even for this time of year. Many birds had been incinerated in the horrific bushfires not too far away from here earlier this year. Our first encounter was with the New Holland Honeyeater, one of Australia’s most endurant honeyeater being found in large numbers throughout Australia with several subspecies. These guys were flying all over the place in one area catching insects on the fly. You may remember I mentioned in my book as a most diligent bird.
The following photo will show how difficult it can be to spot this bird when it rests.
We noticed in the mixed feeding flock (MFF) an inland bird we had not seen for a long time, the White-naped Honeyeater. A tiny honeyeater with a white stripe across the back of its head and red eye surrounds. It was a challenge to photograph as it moved deep into the dark canopy of the eucalypt in search of lerps.
The welcome and predictable appearance of the Eastern Yellow Robin was a delight. This curious Robin flies right up to you on a tree so close my lens is unable to focus. It just sits looking at you and then flies to another tree. The assumption is that they follow you along the track hoping that you might disturb insects which they will pounce on, as they often fly to the ground to feed, which is an identifying behaviour when viewing them from a distance. If you would like to see the Robin feeding its nestlings, watch my short promo video on my birdbook page
The Eastern Spinebill was another honeyeater joining the MFF. They were also lerping as there were no nectar producing wild flowers out at present so lerps and insects become their food source till the August when we begin to see the Early Bush Spring.
The cream of our finds was from a lady passing us on the track who had sighted a pair of Gang Gang Cockatoo. These are mountain birds seldom seen by us near the coast, and like all Cockatoo at present looking for the seed cones and eucalypt gum nuts produced from last Summer to sustain them during this time of no fruit or blossom. At the head of this track there is a sign that informs us to look out for them as they are seen here.
The male has a bright red head and crest. Their unique body plumage looks almost owl-like, quite distinct from other Cockatoo. My wife prayed and asked God that we might see the Gang Gangs on the track we turned onto. Just after praying and stopping to have a sip of water she heard pieces of gum nuts falling from the tree she was standing under. Looking up she found the two, which appeared to be either both female or immature, as they lacked the red head and has orange underbelly stripes, which the male lacks. We both could have quite easily walked bye and not seen them as they were hidden high in the canopy of the eucalypt. This was an exciting find, though they were difficult to view high in the dark foliage of the eucalypt, quite unperturbed by our presence. You could only detect their presence by the sound of falling gum nut fragments. Most Cockies are detected in this manner when they silently feed. I had to play with the lighting somewhat to see their features.
Cockatoos and other members of the Parrot family are unique in that they are able to bring their food to their mouth with their foot, unlike most other birds which have to bring their beak or bill to their food. Notice in this clip how the Gang Gang holds the gum nut to its mouth as it chews it.
We finally left the Cockies feeding and made our way back to the car where we returned to Bowral Cafe for a hot gourmet pie, but we were too late and had to find another cafe where we enjoyed a late gourmet pie lunch. We headed homeward thankful for an enjoyable day out together on a beautiful birding date.
A simple prayer request is instantly answered. We are always thankful for God’s kindness to us when he comes birding with us. He loves to delight his children by giving them what they ask for, not because we deserve it, for we don’t, but because he is faithful to his word and loves us to ask him for help in our lives.
Jesus says:”Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” – Matthew 7:7-8
Jesus says:”If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” – Matthew 7:11
It is very reassuring to know help is just a heartfelt prayer away:
God the Father says: “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me.” – Psalm 50:15
Enjoy your week as your freedoms return, and remember it is not over yet, so respect social distancing.
W. A. Hewson (Adv. Dip. Counselling & Family Therapy).
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, 2019, 2020.