Green Catbird

One of the features of a recent walk with my wife in our local Royal National Park (The Nasho) was that many of the birds we saw tended to be rather shy species which most walkers and cyclists would never see, even birdwatchers may have difficulty.  Even if it was only several birds it was enough to delight us both, since a feature of birding is that you are always surprized each time you go out, as you never know what you will get, epitomized in Forrest Gump’s mum’s box of chocolate analogy.  As we walked on this beautiful Summers day after a week of rain and cold winds, quite uncharacteristic of the time of year, we heard the classic catbird sound and looked up to get this unusually good footage in sunlight, of this most difficult rainforest bird.

We could see two of three Green Catbirds (an extremely shy and difficult bird to see amid the dark green canopy), loudly fleeing the opportunistic attack of a Pied Currawong which was pursuing the youngster in the family, leaving this one on watch. Eventually the Currawong left without a meal.

The Pied Currawong stealthily steals birds from many surrounding nests to feed its young, possibly taking at least 20 to 40 nestlings. It actually positions its nest after surveying the nesting population in a territory. As I have shown in previous posts they fight other Currawongs furiously for prime territories. The Second Edition of my current book features this bird as Opportunistic. That sneaky bright yellow eye will secretly peer at you waiting for the right opportunity to act.

Pied Currawong resting with prey in mouth

As we walked on I could hear the call of a Sacred Kingfisher next to its arboreal white ant nest, which they use, along with Kookaburras to nest in. They can be difficult to spot when they are sitting in the shade along the river’s edge. We would not have noticed it high in the tree had it not been yapping with its advertising call.

As we passed the palm forest we are always hopeful for the return of the rarely seen and most difficult to photograph beautiful Rufous Fantail, but again not found there today.  But we did hear the melodic call of the Black-faced Monarch warning its mate which flew away.  This shy, elusive rainforest bird which is here during Summer months, normally keeps out of sight. It freely preened as it did not notice us some distance away.  Today we got some good views, rather than grainy shots hidden beneath dark canopies.

From the side of the track we saw a flash of red as a very small bird disappeared in among the grass, which we saw after much observation to be a Red-browed Finch feeding on grass seed. This flighty little bird remained for a short while as the flock fled.

Of course the Golden Whistler male came and made himself known. Usually he is shy and keeps away and the female curiously comes for a look, but she may be with her young or in the nest. As the male hunts down the odd insect for his nearby nestlings. He is easy to find when he calls during Spring and Summer, but very quiet and elusive during the non nesting Winter months.

As we reached the end of our walk for the day we turned to walk back and there hanging off a tree was a young Lace Monitor sunning itself. This huge reptile is seldom seen, and always scurries away when spotted. He saw we were there but did not move at all.

Here’s a close up of his face…

On our walk back we saw another fast elusive small bird, the Brown Gerygone, a couple of juveniles which had not long left the nest, so they tended to rest, allowing us to a photo moment,  more than their extremely active parents.

Of course the loud call of the White-throated Treecreeper is always a treat. The fun is in trying to locate the bird climbing the tree. It is so well camouflaged against the brown bark that most people hear the call of it ascending the tree, but never know where to look to find it. It is another mindful skill one gains over time. After reaching the top of the tree foraging for insects and grubs it flies to the foot of the next nearby tree and repeats the process.


As we walked on we saw this bird fly off under a bush several yards up ahead. I sensed from its profile it was the seldom sighted Wonga Pigeon, which puts out its loud monotonous call throughout the rainforest for hours at time. I managed to get this flash shot (I try to avoid flash photography with birds).

As many of you know, my wife often sends up a prayer during our walk asking our God if he has anything special to show us, which we are often rewarded with an unexpected bird sighting, and yes we did, we actually saw for the first time in over a year, one Rufous Fantail, which caused several passers bye to stop and enquire as they saw and heard our excited activity.  We tried desperately to catch a glimpse and photograph this fast moving elusive bird when it came out of the bush into sunlight. This is all we got of any value:

For this we were truly grateful to our gracious Father, for we had not seen this bird all winter and believe many hundreds of these birds were lost while nesting down south during the horrific bushfires last year and early this year.

Thankfully we have sighted two families since, residing here now, away from the burnt bush down south. Though we have not been able to get them in the light to photograph. So we rejoice that at least these have survived to breed.

Have a most enjoyable week despite the circumstances we all share at this time, some more affected than others. As we move into a new year it seems like the beginning of the last all over again, but for the absence of extreme heat and bushfires.

However,  one aspect to bear in mind is that ‘happiness’ depends on what is happening in current circumstances, where as joy is a much deeper more consistent attitude of one’s soul, which  exists regardless of the circumstances. This is an aspect dealt with more fully in my next book “Flight of a Fledgling”, and again is something we can learn from birds. We now know from recent research that many songbirds as well as communicating with their song, also sing for the pure joy of it as it gives them a feel good release as endorphins are released in their brains, in a similar way when we laugh, encourage people, do spontaneous acts of kindness and also when we sing.

A male Golden Whistler joyously whistling

As mentioned on previous occasions, when we consistently choose to maintain a positive encouraging attitude of gratitude, we develop (hardwire into our personality) a joyous spirit or persona. This healthy state of mind and emotion actually improves overall health and longevity. To name a few, it improves our immune system, sleep, lowers stress, lowers blood pressure, releases feel good endorphins in the brain, endears us as a friend, makes us more creative and productive, enables us to better endure pain and misfortune, can maintain a more youthful appearance and make us feel more energetic. Smiling and laughter are part of this persona which also include the above benefits. The attitudes that work in reverse and are most unhealthy include unforgiveness, resentment, bitterness and unresolved anger. The greatest help that has been found to encourage a joyous state of being, is to have a firm and settled hope for the future through faith relationship  with God our Creator Father. The efforts of modernism, secular humanism and political correctness to remove God from our vocabulary and life has only served to heighten the confusion, fear, anxiety and uncertainty many are currently experiencing.

“A cheerful heart is good medicine [brings healing], but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” – Proverbs 17:22 (NIV) –  from King Solomon one of the world’s wisest and most successful of men.

And forgive us our debts, [in the same way as we have forgiven others] as we also have forgiven our debtors.”  – Matthew 6:12 – the reality and profundity of Jesus words is often missed when this prayer is repeated by rote. In other words a person will not feel or experience forgiveness from God through Jesus sacrifice on their behalf, if they refuse to forgive. Jesus explains in a parable that unforgiveness creates a prison of self torture. (see Matthew 18:34)

I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth.
And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God;
I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” – Job 19:25-27 –
a most remarkable man in history who tragically lost everything, and suffered great loss, even his health was afflicted,  but maintained his hope and faith and love, and later had everything restored to him in greater abundance than previously.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” – Hebrew 11:1

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” – Hebrews 10:23

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.



  1. Hello Ash,
    I am so happy to be finally catching up on my favorite blogs. It has been quite a start to the year, and a challenging one all over the world. Reading of this recent birding excursion brought a big smile to my face. I am very glad that you and Mrs H were blessed with a special view of the Rufous Fantail in particular. It is a uplifting and a ray of hope, to see that he has survived the bushfires.

    I was finally able to send you a long-overdue update mail today! May you and all your family have a safe and blessed week ahead.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Takami, we have been concerned that you were both well, and kept you in our prayers as it has been a very uncertain time over in the northern hemisphere. We are thankful at the moment that despite mask wearing and distancing we still have relative freedom, especially in country areas. But this can change in hours, as some have found when on flight to another state and having to return as the law changed mid flight. May you both enjoy a peaceful week and keep safe.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A wonderous day out with some really delightful birds, you often see more speices in a day than I’d see in a year!
    We’ve been following a pair of Sacred Kingfisher these past few weeks, they are using a more traditional old tree hollow by the river, and its been quite a journey watching them bring the young into the outside world.

    Rufous Fantails are so super energetic. I think they make their Grey cousins seems positively docile.

    Thanks for a beaut day out on screen

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks David, it was a lovely walk to find these little treasures, especially the return of the Catbird and Rufous Fantail after the long drought. It is lovely to hear the sound of running water again, though the the next couple of weeks are to be hot and dry again as is today. Yes I agree the Rufous really do create an element of excitement when ever they turn up, but often lots of sighs and moans when the blurry shots and covered shots make up most is not all the captures in the moment. Where the Greys will come right up to you to check you our, the Rufous are quite the opposite, and yes much faster. Enjoy the rest of your week !


  3. What a joy to see – and hear!! – so many unique birds, AB! I never cease to be amazed at how many you are able to photograph (even multiple times), when they are so challenging to even spot for most people. The Fantail certainly was a prayer answered, and the green Cat Bird was a real surprise to see! Our catbirds are thoroughly gray with a little black on their heads.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks BJ, for your encouraging remarks, we are very blessed here not only to rainforest access but more so since much of the coastal forests were devastated and trying to recover from horrific bushfires last year and the year before. With the drought broken we are experiencing a nicer Summer so far. Both our Catbirds are green and blend in so well with the dark green foliage that they are impossible to spot and can be sitting there silently observing us just several feet away and we would not know, but as soon as we lay eyes on them they are gone. They do most of their calling at night and early morning, and a a real treat to hear when we stay the night inside the rainforest. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Donna, so delighted you capture the spirit of our experience together. I have actually used the last part of my new book to introduce people to birdwatching as a healthy enjoyable hobby and also to help bind couples with an enjoyable healthy interest to prevent empty nest syndrome and the likes. Enjoy your week my friend 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Sometimes I get rare bird photos, but they may not be the best quality, so I don’t post them. I got lots of a fig parrot and lyrebird. Not such good pics but you can see them. I didn’t post. It was gift enough just to see them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Cindy, Many of my photos are not perfect but are able to give the viewer a good idea as to the bird and its behaviour, as bird behaviour is more my study with photography. Many of us keep our first not so good, blurry or dark lifer pics until we take better ones and then replace them. I keep some of the not so good ones to remind me of the excitement of the event. Digital technology allows us to enhance and correct not so good pics which is a great asset and art. Aussie Fig birds are always a challenge as they feed inside the upper canopy in the dark, and are always moving getting noisily high on our native figs. Lyrebirds likewise in dark forests can be a challenge, but when they are grazing in the sun by the track the male tail is a beautiful capture. I am blessed to see Lyrebirds often, the youngsters are quite tame and lack fear of adults allowing you to pass a few feet from them. In conclusion 🙂 the photos are our own personal record of what we saw, and when it is a rare bird or a lifer, it is an exciting trophy to grace our bird albums. Back in the day the early naturalists would have shot the birds with rifles and come home holding up a dead bird with excitement, and have their trophy stuffed, hence many species suffered demise, but thankfully today we shoot with our cameras and our photos are our trophies. Enjoy your week my friend and stay safe 🙂


  5. Thoroughly encouraging and uplifting post – just what is needed in uncertain and oppressive times. Thank you brother for taking me away from this unraveling city to the branches of Aussie trees. What beauties you find!
    The bird songs are so medicinal as are your scriptural encouragements. Thank you Ashley, for your wonderful ministry through God’s creation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Lisa Beth, for your most appreciative comments, for your beautiful gift of encouragement. Yes, we all need to find peace and rest as we focus on our Lord’s handiwork and provision for us in these uncertain times. I worship and rejoice in my heart each time I hear my local bird friends singing in my back yard and the surrounding neighbourhood trees. I love yo hear the first bird of the morning, which can vary considerably each new day. This delights me so much, especially the call of the Grey Butcherbird family when they see me. Many times when I walk down the back stairs they call, and sing as if it is to me and I my spirit laughs with delight inside. Enjoy your week dear sister and stay safe, we pray the Lord will bring us all through this time and keep us safe under the cover of his feathers under his almighty wings.(Ps 91) 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for such a kind and thoughtful response. I had to find the Grey Butcher bird online and found a film of youths and parents calling out to each other!
        Wonderful how the Lord inspires you brother, may He continue to order your steps, and your lovely wife’s, through His awesome creation.

        Liked by 1 person

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