Last Thursday I baked a batch of Anzac Bickies, you guessed it, for another birding date with my wife the following day. We decided to take a drive up on the Southern Highlands to visit Barren Grounds Nature reserve, as it has been some time since we visited. Last time many months ago, heavy rain had made the road impassible and we had to turn back.

This nature reserve consists of many acres of low lying dense heath-land, under which the rare and endangered Eastern Ground Parrot dwells, or is meant to be found, though many a birder has come here quite excited and left quite disappointed. It is by providence that any one sees it, and then it is usually a flash of green as it flies back under cover. As you can see it is a beautiful bird. Click here and see eBird’s photo. I have posted the Eastern Bristlebird, another rare and endangered species, here in previous years, but neither of these birds were found on this occasion.

Eastern Bristlebird @ Barren Grounds 2016

On arrival at the car park after out 2 hour drive we proceeded to set up for morning coffee and bickies in the picnic shelter provided. It was quite warm but a lovely cool breeze made it pleasant. As we sat and chatted we noticed no birds, only the monotonous sounds of cicadas, classic of January, which can cause many birds stress due to their very sensitive hearing. To our surprise and extreme delight this unusual bird appeared foraging about eight feet from us, and though it saw us, continued foraging nearby. 

At first I spontaneously blurted out it was an immature Bowerbird, but my wife with her binoculars said it looked like a Bassian Thrush, which to our surprise it was. An extremely timid rainforest bird which is usually only seen in the dark depths of rainforest crossing the track, is here in broad daylight for us to see, on this dry scrubby heathland forest. We saw this as gift, an unexpected blessing from our Father. We managed to get many views as it moved around the car park and we followed. These birds are usually found foraging alone. It made no attempt to fly away, but just kept its safety exclusion zone. 

You may have already noticed from viewing the above photos a feature of this birds plumage. Yes it is a work of intelligent design that it blend in with whatever background it forages in. Usually under normal circumstances this bird will completely freeze and remain amazingly still for minutes after it sees you, blending into the background with its camouflage plumage, in a similar way to the Australian Logrunner, featured in the first edition of my book. We just admired it beautiful plumage patterns.

Eventually we set out on our walk, checking for Bristlebirds in the usual places, but none found. We did hear many Little Wattlebird calling to each other in the usual form as throw their whole body into the call. I love how their tail rises and falls after each call. You may recall me mentioning that a birds voice box or syrinx is deep down at the bottom or base (not at the top like ours) of the trachea where the bronchi separate into the lungs. This is how small birds can  make such loud calls, and even call with their mouth’s full.

Birds have a very unique uni-directional respiratory system that allows them consistent one directional flow of oxygen to their lungs, unlike our bi-directional, breathe in breathe out. Click here to learn more. This is how they maintain their body cooling system as well as being able to call continuously without exhausting themselves, as they contain, in addition to lungs, several air sacks around their whole body.

As we walked we were surprised by the absence of many birds we usually see here, especially the Eastern Yellow Robin who always greets us at the same spot along the track. But we were delighted to hear and finally see the male Rufous Whistler. Unfortunately he did not want his picture taken at this time. 

Along the track we noticed these Christmas Bells still flowering which added a lovely dimension to the green. In a few months this track will be ablaze with wildflowers. 

As we walked I noticed how quiet it was, no engine noises, and the total absence of people, how the cool breeze tempered the hot day so well for us, reducing the humidity and making it a most enjoyable experience.We also noted the edge of the heath land where we enjoyed this beautiful wall of delicate ferns.

We saw and heard several New Holland Honeyeaters feeding from the nectar rich blossom of eucalypt trees.

We also discovered this unusual fungi.


But it was more of a discovery to see this lone juvenile Eastern Spinebill, another honeyeater common to these parts, though we did not see its parents.

We decided to walk down a track where we last saw immature Gang Gang Cockatoos a year ago, but the many spider webs and absence of birds caused me to turn back onto the main track.

Moving further along the main track we sighted a Brown Thornbill, but in the diffused light was a challenge as usual.

Before turning around and coming back we heard and finally located this White-throated Treecreeper, always a difficult bird to photograph at any time, as they ascend the tree, usually on the dark side and look identical to the bark.

Compare the before and after post production lighting.

As we walked to the car we were delighted that our little Bassian friend was there still foraging, but also this lying with flies over it on the drive way of the carpark. A dead Copperhead Snake killed by a car that had recently parked on the other side of the carpark. My wife was concerned she would see this venomous snake along the track, as we know they are active here. It was good to see what it looks like.

We made our way to a lovely cafe Raw & Wild  at Bowral, where we had a most enjoyable lunch looking toward the mountain. On the return journey we stopped in at the Southern Highlands Visitor Information Centre at Mittagong, and established a new market there for my book. We returned home thankful for a most peaceful and enjoyable birding date.

Have an enjoyable week. We keep you in prayer, especially those in counties where the virus is out of control. It appears that we will be limited in our interstate and overseas birding pursuits for some time yet, so it teaches us to be thankful for our local birds.

If you have not already checked out my book or not seen the promo for the next one which is currently with the publisher click here.

Is function determined by one’s ability or one’s capacity to perform it ?

Capacity is inherent but ability is learnt, and is the developed use of capacity, so both together are important. Interesting enough, birds did not have the ability to grow wings and develop feathers and fused aerated bone structures so they could fly, they were given the capacity first, and then learnt the ability from their parents as nestlings. It is the same in our lives. Many of us never reach our full potential in life because we feel limited by our doubtful view of our capability and ability, and have not learnt to explore our true capabilities. Capability is the unrealized potential of our capacity. There are many true stories of people who, while they did not appear to have the capacity comparatively to achieve a particular accomplishment, believed that they would, against all odds, and with patient unrelenting training, defied the negative capability assessment of others, and developed their ability to achieve. The true story of Roger Bannister who first broke the 4 minute mile, when they said it could never be done. They said it wasn’t just dangerous it was impossible. This was portrayed in the movie Chariots of Fire.   

We can only achieve what we believe. To doubt is to miss out.

Faith is such an important part of our daily lives. I will be dealing with the importance of it in my new book “Flight of a Fledgling” soon to be released. Many mistakenly think it only pertains to religious matters. Everything we do, every day, contains important elements of faith,  without which, we would never survive.  Roger Bannister combined his belief in himself with his belief in God (the source of all faith) to achieve the unthinkable as many have done previously and since then.  By combining objective faith with unconditional love, based upon a firm hope for the future we can. These three are the very fabric of life and relationship as we know it.

 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” – 1 Corinthians 7 

‘And now these three remain: faithhope and love. But the greatest of these is love.’ – 1 Corinthians 13:13

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


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,
    What a delightful and informative read. How wonderful to follow you along on this birding adventure, blessed with some wonderful sights! I can’t help but echo what has already been said, you and Mrs H have the best birding dates 🙂

    The Bassian Thrush looks (to my subjective eyes) very similar to the “Scaly Thrush” found here – another shy bird in my region of Japan. Thank you for sharing these adventures with us, and for always including not just our avian friends, but other wildlife and fauna of your beautiful country.

    Wishing you both a blessed week ahead!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Takami for your most appreciative comments. We have just returned from our busy visiting journey up north and have been out of phone signal at times so I am doing some catch up, as my phone does not always do WordPress well. Enjoy the rest of your weekend my friend 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Another interesting birding adventure. I have seen a Gang Gang Cockatoo before. Of course in a zoo. Maybe in the heaven we will be able to see ALL the species of birds, in person, in their own habitat.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, I was just going to type what ‘Donna’ commented above – you have the best dates!
    I appreciate learning about birds’ respiratory systems, that is really fascinating. Beyond the obvious beauty and talents, how can anyone see such design and deny the magnificence of such a Creator?
    Press on dear brother, your wife too! (They often deserve much credit!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much Lisa Beth, we do enjoy our special times out together. I could say our birding dates are spiritual as we bring our loving Father along with us and he always has a delight for us, even when the birds are few.Have a wonderful week my friend !

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much Donna, we do have wonderful days out when we can manage to co ordinate the time in our busy lives, though we did not see a lot in this day due to the loud cicadas, but the Lord gave us the Bassian as a bonus of his kindness. Enjoy your weekend my friend 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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