As we pass through the middle of our Winter, the cold dark mornings and evenings with it’s shorter days, I thought it time to go to the river mud flats to see the migratory waders who did not make their yearly 16,000 km flight to Alaska and Siberia back in April. Last year in our most devastating Summer, I found no migrants stay over, even the young ones flew. It is like they were warned to go, as the poisonous smoke from the bushfires lasted months here in Sydney.
It is worth noting that none of these Godwits show any breeding plumage, which means they are immature and not yet breeding age. It is customary for some Godwits, mostly younger ones, to miss migrating back their first year, it is fairly random. We found at least seven who stayed. They usually stay as a group, and an adult may also stay to keep watch, but not always. I found another two in a separate place across the bay, foraging together. Notice how they press their whole head into the moist sand as they hunt out tiny mud crabs and worms. The buff around their neck is also a sign of their immaturity, as is the dark primaries.
When one in the group has a catch, you often see them sleuth away to eat it, as the others can chase after them if they see they have scored. This is also a feature of the immature bird, looking for an easy feed or handout. Notice in the last frame, that these birds are smaller than the Silver Gull. The female is usually slightly larger and has a longer beak. Unlike their cousin the Black-tailed Godwit with its straight beak, their beak is slightly upturned.
I am grateful to my faithful blog followers who have already purchased my book. They will know this bird is famous for having the quality of Endurance. Flying 8 days non-stop from Alaska to Australia across the Pacific Ocean each Spring, when they will return to our shores with new young to enjoy our warmer weather and grace our river banks once again.
Also on the beach was this pair of Pied Oystercatcher. an endangered species in NSW due to the increase in 4WD vehicles being permitted on beaches where these birds breed, which is one of the crazy things our National Parks allow. Dogs and people are the other threats, as our state is the most populated, and the threat is greater. See how synchronized this pair are even in their flight.
One of them had some preening exercises which made some interesting shots.
Afterward, I headed out to see if the whales were active as they passed by our city. Most have already journeyed past in the last few weeks and only small pods of stragglers are left. While I saw no breaching I did see this pair staying close and synchronizing their moves. Sadly I missed a brilliant photo opportunity when both tails rose and slipped beneath the water at the same time. A similar synchrony to the Pied Oystercatcher above.
This what we saw last week when over 130 passed by in a day. This one was a fair way off…
The rugged sandstone cliffs near Botany Bay are the first sighting of Sydney travelers see when coming into Sydney airport.
As we stood on Cape Banks, one of the best shoreline viewing points for whales on the north side of Botany Bay, we noticed the Australasian Gannet at work flying back and forth past the cape.
At first we saw an immature Gannet and then captured the parent with its youngster together, which is a rare capture, as these birds are usually hunting alone.
You will notice the classic brown and speckled wing coloring of the immature, and the lack of the yellow head.
To my delight in the cold wind on top of the Cape, I turned to see this Nankeen Kestrel hovering and about to pounce on something, but caught view of me out of the corner of its eye and made its departure. It looked beautiful and in full colour against a blue cloudless Winter sky.
This bird is featured in my book for its Healthy Expectancy as it hovers over areas, and how we can learn to pursue healthy goals and wait for opportunity.
Another interesting synchrony of birds my wife and I witnessed while in Wagga Wagga last week was this small pod of Australian Pelican working in perfect synchrony together to fish the freshwater lake. My wife said it looked like a ballet.
They would move and submerge their heads as one. Pelicans are known to fish in pod, similar to a pod of Dolphin. Usually they make a V formation and push the fish to the shoreline, which is shared in my book “What Birds Teach Us”
But here they display a different technique.
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It was so interesting and entertaining to watch the Pelicans work the lake (above) with such precise unity of function and purpose. We have heard the Covid catch-cry “We Are All In This Together” which actually means we can achieve success by us not physically getting together, but social distancing. Thus the meaning is in synchronizing the concept of doing together and not the act of being together. It is failure or refusal to recognize the difference that has been responsible for so many lives lost this year, and why Covid outbreaks occur in pockets in the community. The wonderful truth is that we can achieve great things together, without actually being physically in the same place, like the Pelicans. We can pray for those suffering, send financial help, encourage the anxious by making phone contact, assist elderly neighbors to get their needs, to name a few. But we are in synchrony of purpose: To stay safe, be safe for others and maintain hygiene vigilance. As a very wise man once said…
“Wisdom and good judgment live together, for wisdom knows where to discover knowledge and understanding.” – Proverbs 8:12 (Living Bible)
Enjoy your week and stay safe.
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.