Thank you my dear friends for following my blog throughout turbulent 2020. This will my last word for the year. Interesting enough I went for a walk today to exercise, as Sydney is dealing currently with another Covid outbreak. After the rain and almost winter-like weather of the past few days it was very quiet in my local bush park, with very few birds and people. So I figured this last one will be simple and short. We are all very thankful that our government is very proactive and responsible to the health and well being of us all, and grateful that we have made it thus far in what is the most extraordinary year in our lifetime.
Australian Christmas Bush flowers
My Christmas card above features the Scarlet Honeyeater male, a bird that appears before Christmas, coinciding with the flowering of our native Christmas Bush, as well as, the call of the Eastern Koel in the early morning.
These among many other signs tells us that we approach the time for us all to kick back , relax and celebrate both the birth of Jesus and the coming new year, as we put the passing one behind. For many this will be a time of grief, suffering and sorrow. We pray for the comfort and recovery of the hundreds of thousands experiencing this in this moment. Every one of us has lost something or someone this year, we are all grieving at different levels. No one escaped loss, just as if it were a world war, and it is not over yet. As I walked along the quieter than usual bush track I stopped to watch and hear something very special and unique. A Grey Butcherbird conversing with a pair of Australian Magpies. In my recent studies and research I have learned that many of Australia’s intelligent birds can communicate between species, as they learn their languages by listening and observing intently. I apologise for the loud Cicada background, yet another sign of Australia’s bush Summer. I recorded this:
What one needs to be aware of it that the Butcherbird is quite capable of copying and speaking with the Magpie, as is the Magpie to the Butcherbird. The call of the Butcherbird in the above recording is not one of his usual Butcherbird calls, he is actually speaking in Magpie. For example, listen to this immature Butcherbird practicing, and recalling mimicry it has learnt from other birds.
This exercise between birds is not only good for improving relationships, but is very useful in times of emergency when either of the birds need assistance to locate and mob a common predator or warn to take flight. This brought me to think, what have we learnt this year? Great challenges are opportunity for greater learning.
Eleven lyrebirds can be seen in the image as a bushfire near Wollombi approached (Supplied: PJ Wallis for ABC News 30th Jan 2020)
Bushfire, drought, flood and Covid were all great challenges in 2020 from which many positive lessons were gleaned, to help us navigate the future. They rallied the community back to the mate-ship of the Aussie battler, that made Australia great back in our early post convict days when ex convict married ex convict and toughed it out in the bush to carve out a home and a family, because they could not afford to go back to Britain. My ancestors also married as ex convicts and established a town in NSW. For those interested rediscover the old the TV series “Against the Wind” to get an idea of the difficulties. These new settlers (all mostly ex convicts) learned to trust and assist each other through the difficult times of establishing a living from nothing, from which arose the Aussie mate-ship, which carried us into the world wars and helped make our nation famous for the ANZACS and the friendly warm helpful reputation we once received from other nations.
The Superb Lyrebird knew what to do to save itself from the firestorm, gathering their mates they fled to the dam. Many species managed to survive using amazing survival skills, learnt and possibly passed down from somewhere in the past.
The Australian Wood Duck has always survived well because both parents have their priorities always before them, keeping them faithful in both relationship with each other and care of the family. Many have rediscovered the importance of family and family relationships, and had to modify the importance of the peripheral things of life, such as job, possessions, sports and money, which for many had taken the place of THE most important – family relationships. The Covid made us all aware of our own fragile humanity, and that we are all vulnerable and all need each other to survive. We are not a rock or an island as Simon and Garfunkel once erroneously suggested. For our northern friends this song is set ‘in adeep and dark December’.
Thankfully we already had the technology to create such meeting places as Zoom to tide us over the Covid lock downs, and create new and more efficient ways to work from home, and have more family and home time. We began to carve out a new kind of normal. A list of new words arose which became common place in daily conversation, and a new awakened responsibility for one’s own health and the health of those in their daily life. The Australian White Ibis in my book “What Birds Teach Us” is an example of support, security and strength in community.
I wish you all a very enjoyable Christmas and a healthy, blessed and prosperous New Year. May it be better and may we all grow more resilient and mindfully learn to experience peace and contentment in what ever circumstance we find ourselves in so that we can be comfort and strength for others. Regardless of what popular opinion has become in recent years, and the removal of Christ from Christmas, he remains: The Reason for the Season. It still amazes me that one so loving and kind, who has brought so much good into our world and our culture, can be feared and despised by so many, even fear from declaring his name with respect, fear that even drives people to kill and injure people who love him and live the life of love he encourages, which continues to be the case in many countries in our world today.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” – 2 Corinthians 1:3,4 (NIV)
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.’