During the Australia Day weekend, we were away visiting family and friends up the coast in the area I lived and worked in before meeting my wife. We enjoyed quality time with people rather than birds on this occasion and relaxed enjoying the beautiful coastal area and a special time with my children and grandchildren whom I seldom get to see. After lunch we walked along a bush track to the surf beach, where I photographed my first bird in two days, this White-bellied Sea-Eagle. My daughter spotted it flying overhead, but I was only able to catch it flying off along the coast on its regular daily run.

Nine years before when I lived on the headland just down the coast from where we stood and was known in the small town by several people to have a ‘wild pet eagle’. This was because whenever this one particular eagle appeared it would always find me and remain above my head, so I would often get a call from someone when swimming or just on the beach: “Ashley your eagle is here !” and I would look up and there in the strong afternoon wind this eagle, without moving its wings at all, would remain dormant above my head some thirty to fifty feet.

As soon as I pick up my camera, it would just let the wind take it away, again without a any apparent movement of wing. This is the eagle featured in my book as it was doing its cliff run.

I remember on one occasions hiding in the bushes at the edge of the cliff hoping to catch it coming around the cliff without it knowing, but with its eagle eyesight (over 5 times better than ours) it flew directly to me and again hovered without wing movement as it looked into the bush where I thought I was hiding. After about seven seconds it continued its journey around the headland.

I would often see it returning with a fish for the nest, but the light would often be in the wrong place for the photo, which had to be taken immediately.

 

On our return we heard Little Wattlebirds and Noisy Miners. As we were about to leave my daughter’s family, our golden photo moment occurred. This was in fact the only real moment where we actually had a decent opportunity placed before our eyes. High at the top of dead branches in a nearby tree was a family of Australasian Figbird catching the afternoon breeze on this very hot Summer day.

These birds are in plenteous number here as there is much rainforest and many species of fruiting native fig trees, which causes them to often get high on the figs in a feeding frenzy as they compete for the ripest fruit.  The male has a distinct reddish eye ring of bare skin and light green plumage and the female and juveniles, a brown flecked chest with brownish primary plumage.

Notice below the young males forming their eye ring, being pink and not yet red, and their plumage changing from that of their mothers. The young females have a bluish eye ring of bare skin and brown plumage, and can be difficult to tell the mum from the kids. The female looks very similar to the female and juvenile Oriole but lacks its red eye. Here is a closer comparison:

A teenage male takes flight, creating interest to the observing family.

 

The female calls as a male looks on:

Their call is usually heard with many birds calling at the same time and moving rapidly around the upper canopy of the fig tree, however they are resting at present. Even when we went further up the coast and dropped in on a longtime friend from my school days and visited the Sea Acres Rainforest Centre, where my book is sold, we did not see any birds we could capture. The very windy weather there caused many birds to be quieter than usual, which made them all the more difficult to see in the dark rainforest foliage. The Catbird my wife saw was extremely elusive as usual. On arrival we discovered that all of my books had sold out in their shop, so I was able to replenish their stock for them.

The rainforest walk was very busy over the holiday weekend, and especially since most all of our state’s people are reduced to holidaying only in our own state during Covid, due to border closures. Here are some of the examples of the rainforest trees. Notice this Strangler Fig which has completely taken over the host tree.

 

This palm forest:

I love the way the light breaks through breaks in the canopy:

Oh yes, we did see this lizard:


You may be left wondering why I posted my hero photo with a caption, and with the words of Henry Ford, inventor and innovator of the first world car and of the car production line. He was a perfectionist and believed in quality and efficiency every time. For example, if the company did not produce good leather for the seats, he bought the cattle and the tannery and brought it up to scratch. His famous saying was when people started asking for different coloured T model Fords: ‘You can have any colour you like, providing it is black.” When you discover what Henry Ford went through to achieve what he did, and especially during the war years, you can appreciate his encouraging statement at the top of this page.

Part of his success was because he surrounded himself with people who shared the same values, and worked with him, and not against him. This has been the success of our state bringing the virus to no new cases for 11 days straight. But it will the take continuous vigilant co operation of everyone,  for the virus to be kept in check.

Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.”  – Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10 (NIV)

“Treat everyone you know as well as those you do not, with the same respect, care, compassion and consideration you give to yourself.” – Luke 10: 27b  [Ash’s Interpretation]


Have a wonderful week and stay safe. If this is your first visit, welcome. Please check out the rest of my blogs and helpful information on birding and learning from the birds, accessible from my Home Page and Menu at top of page.


 

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.

 

14 Comments »

  1. Hello Ash,
    I am very glad to you hear that you and Mrs H could spend a meaningful weekend with your daughter and grandchildren, and that you could even restock your beautiful bird book at the Sea Acres Rainforest Centre. Learning about “your pet eagle” was very heartwarming, and we are glad you were blessed with views of the Australasian Figbirds. The quotes from Henry Ford, Helen Keller, and of course the scriptures are also encouraging and remind us that genuine, hard work can and will reap the harvest at the right time.

    Wishing you and all your dear ones a safe and blessed week ahead.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Takami, yes it was a lovely weekend catching up with family and dear friends up north. Glad you enjoyed seeing our Figbirds, they do get quite high on figs. Yes we do get blessed when we surround ourselves with wise and caring people on the same page who share our passion. Yes the need for community in all aspects of life is so vital to our success and growth. Enjoy your weekend my friend:-)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A wonderful day out indeed Ashley, and great to be able to share it with family. Getting harder at present to enjoy our kids/grandkids. The precious moments are always appreciated.
    The White-bellied Sea-eagle shots really let us get into its world.
    We don’t see them against the rugged rocks and pounding waves, so it’s super to see them working those air currents over the sea.
    We are in the middle of a rain event presently, but really enjoying the richness of the rain, and the cleaness of the air.
    Looking forward to your next adventure

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks David, we also have just had several days of welcome winter weather and rain after several days of heatwave, and likewise welcome the change. It is so nice not having to breathe smoke all day and night as we did last year. The birds have been much less this season here, and wonder if the fires have had an impact. We saw lots of burnt bush recovering up north last week, but not a lot of birds. Fig birds were not affected as they are on the coastal rainforest areas and foreshore trees. We have not been able to get out as much as we would like at present, but hope to get out of the Covid mindset soon, as we are now 12 days free of it in our state, though I think they still detect it in sewerage in some places. Most are still wearing masks though they are not required to, but up north no masks at all. Yes the rugged coastal shots of the sea-eagle was a treat when I lived right on the coast. It is always lovely to revisit the cliffs and beaches where I did a lot of my first birding, and the Sea-Eagle family were my best subjects. Enjoy your weekend and the comforting sound of falling rain.:-)

      Like

  3. Birds can build a friendship with humans, even in the wild as you’ve proven, Ashley! “Your” eagle is beautiful, what a wonderful memory. I really love the the Australasian Figbird male’s distinct reddish eye ring of skin. I also liked seeing your Strangler Fig photos, they are all around in the areas I’ve been exploring, some engulf a tree here too. I’ll have to share a few in a post one day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Donna, yes it was a very special and unique time with the eagle and I recall one of my sons visiting me and we walked on a secluded beach near there to show him the sea cave and I mentioned to him about the eagle and he immediately replied “Dad, is it like the one above us.”, and there it was, he saw it too. The Strangler Figs are amazing the way they take over their host. I have seen one in an ancient rainforest up north so large when it wrapped around a very enormous tree and killed it, hundreds of years later it formed a space beneath where children played.Enjoy your weekend 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love reading your stories, it is like walking with you through such beautiful country side. The eagle was fascinating to see and always such colorful birds around you. That first quote is very wise and the scripture from the book of John, is what everyone should keep in their hearts and mind to reflect on. It seems to be missing for a lot of folks here in this country.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am ever convinced that Australia holds the world’s greatest birds! Thank you for another wonderful post. Early today my husband and I were out in the neighborhood and saw a falcon, but could have been a hawk. Pretty high up…but impressive to me anyway!
    Brother, it’s a good thing that the Lord has you to guide us through His awesome birds. Even if there was only ONE bird in creation it would be great, but He made a multitude with their own songs.
    Thank you brother Ashley!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks Lisa Beth, it was great that you both got to see an impressive raptor on your walk. They are the most popular birds with birders due to their majestic form. Thank you again dear sister for your most encouraging and appreciative comments, you always lift my spirit. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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