It has been lovely to have Spring rains again as the drought finally breaks and farmers rejoice, as do the birds as La Nina kicks in for our next weather period. It is also a joy for me to see the return of one of my favorite migratory birds, the Bar-tailed Godwit, featured in my book as the world’s most endurant bird. It has just returned from Alaska on its yearly 8 day non stop flight across the Pacific Ocean to Australia and New Zealand. You can see in the above photo how it gets its name. You may recall in June I found a small flock of young Godwits which chose not to do the 16,000 km flight in Autumn to the Alaskan breeding grounds, as they often do in their first couple of years. These are some of the ones that stayed back awaiting their parent’s return.
During the last six months, as a small flock, they have been growing together and will probably fly off with their parents in late March /early April via the Asian coastline, which is an easier flight for them. The immature birds are distinguishable by the more crisp contrasting patterning of their primary plumage. The mature Godwit has a much smoother looking primary plumage, with the female being slightly larger than the male. She also has a slightly longer beak. To the delight of my wife and I, our beach flock had increased to 21 birds, which would also now include the winter immatures rejoined by their parents.
Interesting was that the immatures remained foraging together while the adults remained together in two separate groups, which only came together when they felt threatened and about to leave the beach. Here are some shots of them foraging. Sadly it was quite overcast so the colours are a little bleak. Notice the impressive plumage of the immature as it stretches its wings.
This youngster was attempting to eat a crab which was a little larger than what it was used to.
It is always a delight to watch these birds fly. They are a very high flying bird when migrating, which allows them to catch the thermals and also cruise on the jet streams. Their very large wing span for their size assists them and like other migrating birds will use the V formation in small flocks, frequently changing position to help allay flight exhaustion. The bared tail is more conspicuous when they fly.
As usual the lone shy Eastern Curlew that also frequents our mudflats at low tide made a fast getaway and I was able to catch its departure thanks to my wife’s quick announcement. This is also normally a migratory bird but in recent years some of the birds have stayed over which might be connected with climate change and our not so cold winters. This guy is frequently found alone on this beach. As you can see it could easily be called an Eastern Bar-tailed Curlew.
This bird was well positioned for me to include Napoleon’s famous saying which is a great encouragement for us to bravely step up and use our resources and giftings for good and to bless others, for when we do we actually bless ourselves the more:
As we watched the Godwits we also were being watched by a pair of White-faced Heron. One was quite oblivious to our presence while the other kept staring at us with its stretched neck, which is a ploy of theirs and many long necked water birds when they feel threatened, to make them appear larger and thus deter the threat.
Lastly, before we went on our walk around the waterfront, we noticed this small flock of Australian White Ibis, classically a wetland wader, actually on the beach, near where the fresh water stream empties out. The reason I say this is because in the Second Edition of my book I describe them by the nickname they are called in Sydney, the Bin Chicken. Studies are being carried out as to why in the last 20 years these birds are breeding and increasing in number right on the busy streets of Sydney and its suburbs, having learnt to forage through garbage bins like Ravens. The councils have tried removing the palm fronds from the palms in the middle of the main roads where they nest, but they continue with much difficulty to breed there.
They do look stunning when they fly against a blue sky.
Next week I hope to complete our western road trip, which I chose to break from this week.
Have a wonderful week, especially those now released from lock-down. Don’t forget one of the best inexpensive gifts you can purchase for your young loved one for Christmas is available here online, and will positively build into their character to encourage them to make wise life choices for a happy and healthy life. You can also purchase it from these stores.
Again to my delight, one of the two immature Grey Butcherbird that my little friend Butch introduced me to a couple of years ago (the batch before the last), like his father has learned to trust me and visits me to sing and drink and bathe, and sometimes just watches me from a few feet away. I love that they know I am their friend. Importantly, I never feed Australian wild birds, provide water and protection. They are quite capable of finding food. He will become handsome grey and white like his dad in the next year or so as he matures and learns life skills to survive without the protection of the brown immature plumage.
They learn many different call combinations, but their laughing call is my favourite and makes me smile every time I hear it which is about 6 to 12 times a day, and often when the father sees me coming down the stairs as he views me from the native Casuarina tree nearby as he does here.
It is easy to miss out on so much going on around us with the distractions of our busy urban life, and sadly we all do at times, which is why Mindfulness has become the keyword in therapy to assist in lowering the level of stress we accumulate from worry about past and present unresolved issues as well as the over active mind facing burnout. Birding like other outdoor recreations, such as gardening and nature walks, helps reground us and clear our heads and emotions of clutter, refreshing and revitalizing one’s spirit. When my wife and I walk, even down the street or sit in our courtyard talking with friends our ears and eyes are acutely tuned in the surrounding environment that is unfolding around us. Friends often show amazement at how we can tune into sounds that they don’t even hear or notice, until we make them aware, they are oblivious. It is not that our hearing is better, it is just that we are living in the moment more fully, appreciating it with an attitude of gratitude, as these background sounds and vistas bring healing and refreshing delight and appreciation to our souls. The young Butcherbird above is part of God’s provision for my health, as are the other birds that come daily to visit, but only as I engage my mind to actively tune in to the present, will I avail myself of these benefits. I could have easily walked past this Eastern Water Dragon as many did without noticing it, before I reached its rock where it was sunning itself. This photo on canvas has always sold at art shows where I have entered it.
This is the fuller meaning to this passage from David’s Psalm 19:
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”
I love being tuned into the the earth’s songs of praise and thanksgiving that are constantly occurring in the background of my daily life, it is so uplifting and restorative constantly making me mindful of how wonderful it all is.
W. A. Hewson (Adv. Dip. Counselling & Family Therapy).
‘To introduce people to our unique Australian birds,
‘So we can learn from them how to live a healthy and happy life.’
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.