As passerine bird numbers have dropped after our unseasonable cold wet weather, with only the sound of cicadas on many walking trails, I decided to check out the river mud flats of the Georges River which flows out into Botany Bay. Being so close to the coast it is tidal, and its beaches provide my best local view of waders, especially in the Summer months, as rain does not seem to affect their numbers. The Pied Oystercatcher (pictured below) has become endangered in our state of NSW, mainly due to it’s breeding habitat being over run by people and dogs walking and 4WDs being allowed to drive on the beaches where they breed.
This Pied Oystercatcher was my first find for the day, and was an immature. Notice the dark tip on the orange-red beak and the brownish-black primary plumage.
The juvenile looks even more motley. Here is a family with 2 parents and juvenile I saw at another location down south where they breed in a protected area. Their young are very prone to predication, as they are so exposed.
Both parents defend and attend the nest, which is a simple recessed hole lined with seaweed above the high tide shore line. They maintain a 200 meter exclusion zone around the nest, which is an impossible feat on our populated beaches, which is why our local council constructed a purpose built nesting island for these and other shorebirds to breed on.
Several Pied Oystercatcher families strolled along the waterline in easy reach of the nesting island.
One was trying his beak at extracting an oyster from some rocks, which is what they named for. They pry open the oyster to eat its contents, and there are many on the rocks along this river.
As you can see from above photos the Light Blue Soldier Crabs were on the march again, moving together in their little battalions.
Interesting, a juvenile Australian Raven decided to taste them, not sure what it thought about the flavour as I did not see it eat another.
After a scan of the waters edge which was a fare way out at this very low tide, I found the little family clan of Bar-tailed Godwits, which are always the first bird I look for. In this case I was detecting if any were starting to show signs of breeding plumage for my study on them, as we are only a few weeks off the end of Summer. I did notice very small orange patches on the breast of some.
Others showed no signs yet. The males will show first and the females will start changing later. Most showed no changes, especially the immatures, as they will not breed till a year or two. Notice they are not interested in the Soldier Crabs, they eat the smaller softer shelled crabs they pull out of the wet sand with their long slightly curved beak.
There was a good turn up of Crested Tern resting on the beach with the Silver Gulls (not shown), all facing into the strong NE winds. It was lovely to spot one juvenile with its parent.
Terns and Gulls are often seen resting together. Notice they all face into the wind.
Just then I heard this raucous screeching of hundreds of Little Corella rising up out of the pine trees along the shore. I also noticed many of the Gulls and Terns looking anxious, with some taking flight. I knew to immediately look up, as a raptor had to be circling above, and yes it was a Nankeen Kestrel. However when it flew over the sun I lost it and only got one almost decent shot.
The flock taking flight is a power strategy of the flock, which not only destroys the raptors attempt at stealth, but also confuses the bird making it difficult to pick one out. The loud noise also discourages attack. Birds who share a local habitat, learn the alarm calls of other species, and will respond to their calls. Birds of the Parrot species are particularly skilled at this as they are mainly flock birds, and as my book shares, there is protection in the flock.
After things settled I noticed the shyest of waders and the largest, the Eastern Curlew, on the far side of the river, which a Pied Oystercatcher had decided to befriend and follow, much to the disinterest of the lone Curlew. The Curlew appeared to be only recently maturing. These birds are critically endangered and we are seeing less of them return from migration every year, as they are an easy catch for the Asian fowlers, who sell them in the markets after capturing them while they feed on the crustaceans when they stop for a break during their migration.
Before leaving I watched a immature Australian Pelican land. You will notice the brown patches changing from its juvenile plumage.
Here is a little treat for my overseas followers of a bird you all love to see, and which we hear and see constantly here in Sydney. I captured this footage as this Rainbow Lorikeet fed from eucalypt blossom in our local park, just before the storm. You will notice it does not have the long beak or tongue of the honeyeater, but that it rolls the nectar with its stubby tongue from the flower into its mouth.
Enjoy your week and stay safe. The cooler wetter weather continues here, and I know from reports the ultra cold winter freeze continues in the northern hemisphere. Here is a funny joke someone posted on Facebook:
Funny and silly as this joke appears, there is an element of truth to be gleaned from it. You see, the truth is that we are meant to be constantly moving forward through the tunnel and out to the other side, where one can get off the track and be safe again from the dark and gloomy emotional experiences we each experience at times in our lives. These situations may occur as one grieves a significant loss, of loved one, relationship, job or finances for example. Most people resolve their grief over a period of time, but there are those occasions where people may hang onto it and become locked into it which is known as becoming stuck in one’s grief. Resentment, Bitterness and Unforgiveness of self and/or others is often the cause of the prolonged Winter of the soul, which over a period of time leads to depression. Grief is natural protective mechanism provided by our Creator to enable us to step out of our busy life for a moment to reassess our loss, re establish our new normal minus the loss, and step back into life to a new Spring, at the other end of the tunnel. Only resolving grief will bring in the Spring. Unresolved grief may also be the result of false guilt, whereby the sufferer blames themselves for the loss, when it was not their fault. This needs lots of positive reassurance. Prolonged unresolved grief may need counselling therapy to help the sufferer to become unstuck. It usually requires forgiving someone, since unforgiveness is the main reason people remain trapped in the dark tunnel of gloom. As the rhyme goes: to Blame is to Remain. Handling grief is one of the topics dealt with in my next book soon to be released called “Flight of a Fledgling”.
“But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” – Matthew 6:15 (NIV)
Matthew 18: 21-35 is one of the best teachings on grace and forgiveness which Jesus shared. The crux of the parable which many have a problem understanding is this part:
“… In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.” (verse 34)
The inference to torture in this parable is referring to the self imposed prison that one places themselve in when they hold a grudge and fail to forgive. My wife says it this way, speaking of the the one not forgiving: The sufferer drinks the poison hoping that the offender will die. This of course illustrates the futility of unforgiveness. It does not get them off the hook, they are still guilty when you forgive them, but it allows you to get yourself off the blame and shame hook, which eventually will cause physical and emotional illness, as it keeps the unhealthy flight and fight hormones over active, which causes anxiety and loss of peace, increases blood pressure and the risk of many different diseases, including auto immune syndromes, which are on the increase in our modern society. Forgiveness returns the feel good hormones and also returns the peace.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
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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.