My wife and I have come to value the days we have together now that she works part time. We enjoy our birding dates more frequently. Last week we had two within a couple of days which allowed us to catch up with our riverside friends in our local Royal National Park (by the Hacking River) and also the waders at Dolls and Taren Point (by the Georges River). Above are the two kinds of Kingfisher we found alone along the Hacking River, and both birds were seen within minutes of each other, fishing the river.
Firstly we checked on the juvenile Sulphur-crested Cockatoo that I showcased last post, but the parent had left the baby alone, and was on the grass by the river with the many other Cockies and Little Corellas pulling up grass and grass roots, as they do at particular times with their sharp hooked beak. Little Corella pair for life and are one of the most playful birds I have seen.
My wife saw an Australasian Swamphen building its nest on top of a lily bed on the actual river itself. The bird was away gathering material when I photographed her nest.
Of course the Australian Wood Duck family were sharing the same area on the grass by the river, and the father attacked me and a Cockie when it seemed we were breaching its exclusion zone.
On the dried part of the river bank I noticed an immature Masked Lapwing trying to assess the food value of a stone, as its father looked on, wondering what it was doing. You will notice that the wattle on the immature bird has not fully developed as yet.
Just then I saw out of the corner of my bad eye a tiny bright blue blob on a dead branch projecting out of the river. My wife checked it out with her binos and I put it in my sights, it was the very elusive and human shy, Azure Kingfisher which works the river along with the many other species of waterbirds. It would dive super fast into the water returning to the same spot with a tiny fish.
It is an extremely fast flying bird and being so small is difficult to catch in flight.
Within a few minutes I sighted the larger cousin, the Sacred Kingfisher also fishing the river nearby. Notice the vertical elevating and dropping tail sequence which is a feature of many male birds when they wish to assert their territory and ward off intruders. Kookaburras (a Kingfisher by family) do the same.
As we followed the track along the river I was able to show my wife the Sacred Kingfisher nest that was high in a eucalypt tree which I found on a previous walk. It was a former arboreal termite nest which Kingfishers and Kookaburras use for their own nest, after punching holes in it with their large strong beaks, by flying at it repeatedly till they form a hole large enough for them to enter. I had wanted to show my wife and had hoped that we would see them coming and going from it, but not today. What we did see was a Kingfisher in a nearby tree sitting alone and calling.
As we walk further we heard nearby the loud call of the Eastern Whipbird male and female. Those who have purchased my book “What Bird Teach Us” will know how to detect both male and female calls, and their significance.
We continually peered into the dark forest undergrowth to catch a flash of this extremely elusive and fast low flying bird. As a novice birder years ago it was the most frustrating and difficult bird to actually photograph. I would spend hours right next to this bird but could not get a visible look, as it foraged underneath thick bushes, flicking up leaf litter in a similar way to other rainforest birds. The problem is that I am standing in the light, quite visible to him, and he in the dark can see me and leave without me knowing. In the first shot he is calling. Be aware when viewing the following photos that they have been lightened considerably and shot through a very small hole in the bush, so the quality suffered, but with this bird on most occasions, these captures are not too bad.
Walking further, my wife sighted this Short-beaked Echidna (known to many as the Spiny Anteater) right beside the track. This shy monotreme seldom seen, was busy poking his nose into ant nests. This is the second time we have seen this little guy here. You can see why it can be difficult to spot.
Having checked out our riverside friends by the rainforest, a couple of days later we made our way to our favorite observation beach at low tide on the Georges River to visit our wader friends who were busily foraging. The adult Bar-tailed Godwit, now adorning their lighter non-breeding plumage were more conspicuous against the juveniles, who had joined them now the family was reunited after the recent return of their parents.
We were delighted to also see on the same beach this immature White-faced Heron alone and quite tame, possibly the offspring of the adult pair I saw last time I was on this beach.
We did not see the lone Eastern Curlew which frequents the beach, as many people were present, and the Curlew is extremely fearful of people, taking flight on even the furthermost approach. So we drove around the river to the Taren Point Shorebird Reserve where we sighted our shy Curlew friend poking its head and long beak deep into the wet sand, also seeking small crabs and worms. This the largest of our migratory waders and is in decline.
As we walked further around the river to the man made bird nesting island a fair way off from the shore, we noticed two broods of baby Silver Gull, at different stages of development. These photos have been heavily cropped. There was also a gull sitting on her nest, quietly anticipating her new family.
Lastly, we noticed this family of Welcome Swallow (endemic to Australia) feeding its youngsters. These birds get their name because no matter wherever you go in Australia, these birds will always be there to welcome you with their presence, as they forage on the fly. They are often the first bird you will see, and sometimes the only bird, since they eat flying insects, which are numerous everywhere, they do not require particular habitats as other birds do and can adapt to most conditions, providing they can access fresh water. They are often seen skimming into water to wash, drink and refresh in one rapid action. You will notice the juveniles lack the colouring of the adult on the right. A very pleasant walk together in the cool breeze on a hot afternoon.
Have a wonderful week my birding friends, and to those new to my blog and website, please feel free to explore it from the Menu or Home Page. You may find interesting birding tips and information that may help you enjoy life, gleaned from how birds do life.
Look no further for the unique and beautiful Christmas gift for your special loved one, that will continue to give…
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Insects are a major food source for almost all bird species, and if birds ceased to exist, us humans would find life unbearable, due to the massive volumes they consume of what we term pests, some of which cause disease and death. Birds such as the Swallows, Swifts and Needle-tails basically spend their lives eating insects on the fly and seldom landing, which enables them to live almost anywhere they desire, though they prefer warmer moderate climates. Their focused commitment to their diet is inspiring as much as it is a blessing for us all. We can learn to be focused on what we are good at doing and be a blessing to others as well as ourselves, rather than spread ourselves out thinly trying many different ways and aspects of life, which give little return emotionally, relationally or physically.
It is wise to consider the 80/20 principle which states many of us spend 80% of our time on 20% of activities that are not productive, which results in frustration and discouragement, when we could be spending 80% of our time and energy on the 20% that produces the highest results and satisfaction. An inspired and passionate person with little talent can succeed and do well because their energy and heart are poured into their focused goal, whereas, many more talented people give up and become discouraged because they fail to focus on what they have rather than on what they don’t.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
“A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” – Proverbs 11:25
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.