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.