Crested Tern in flight

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.

A pair of Pied Oystercatchers fly to the safety of the man made nesting island on Georges River

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 RemainHandling 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.



  1. Hello Ash,

    Our local birds have been very quiet this season too. Could it be a reflection of our unusual times? There is one area relatively close to home that is well-known as a haven for the Pied Oystercatcher, but alas, we have not been able to make the trip this year. Seeing the shy Easter Curlew is a real blessing and treat indeed – I do worry about their future. Seeing the Pied Oystercatcher trying to “befriend” the Curlew brought a smile to my face – as did the colorful Rainbow Lorikeets and the battalion of Light Blue Soldier Crabs. Your wife’s explanation of the passage on forgiveness feels very spot-on and true. May you and all your family have a blessed week ahead!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Takami, Yes the unusual weather patterns all over the world are having an impact on our birds this season and many are displaced geographically as a result of trying to find kinder environments. Our bird date Friday was surprisingly birdless in a place that is usually full of bird song this time of year. The cicadas and wet cooler than usual weather may have driven them away to better places. Thanks for your kind comments, and enjoy your week my friend 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Ashley, in spite of having been in lockdown, so many things seem to have gotten past me the last couple of weeks.
    Sooty and Pied Oystercatchers are a great fav of mine.We don’t have an endless supply of them here, so its a great day when their chortling calls are heard along the beach.

    Our local birdlife is very quiet to minimal at the moment. I’m hoping the turn on the weather into autumn will bring about a new range of visitors settling in for the winter. Time will tell.

    Kestrel’s don’t make it easy do they. Although I’ve often found that they hunt over a small range and quickly become confident of human presense in the area, and will work close in without fear.
    Yet that great shot is always against the sun. I think they do it on purpose.

    Have a great week

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks David, Likewise, we were amazed on our birding date yesterday how quiet the forest was of birds, considering all the rain and lack of fires this year, maybe the cold windy weather drove them off or the cicadas, it is a mystery. Though the Rufous Fantail, the least expected bird is hanging around. These are strange times, where nothing is as it was. Further south they have the main breading areas for the Pied Oystercatchers on the beaches and signs have been placed warning people of the sensitivity of the area, but many people don’t obey signs, even if it threatens them with a penalty, as we have experienced with the dogs on leash laws. At Lake Wollomboola further south, an important shore bird area. they put signs and string fencing around the area, but birders still get too close at times. It is a struggle for the birds, not to mention the risk of raptors like the Kestrel.I agree they like to make it difficult for a good photo moment. Enjoy your weekend !


  3. Wonderful shots of your Pied Oystercatcher (almost identical to our American Oystercatcher); and I just LOVE those blue soldier crabs, always enjoy when you share them! Nice sighting of your Eastern Curlew, I love the curlew’s bill. We have the Long-billed Curlew that I’ve not seen yet, it is a western U.S. breeding bird, they generally go south to Texas coastline and Mexico for the winter. I’m actually about 100 miles south of the Florida coastline where some come for the winter, although this is considered scarce. I’ve been keeping my eye out for one in case one ventures my way. 🙂 And thank you for another treat of the Rainbow Lorikeet video and photos. We do love those colorful birds of yours, Ashley!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Donna, your Long-billed Curlew looks much the same, it is probably the geographic demographic which gives it its name as a sub species, as they both migrate for warmer weather, though the one I photographed stays all year round, which is very unusual, he has been doing this for several years now. I will often see him in winter on the beach alone. Yes I like to include a Rainbow occasionally to brighten up your day, especially when I catch them feeding in the sun, which we have not had a lot of lately with this very unseasonable wet cold weather. I did see a a rainbow in the sky last night, which is something we have not seen for over a year with the drought and fires of past season. Stay safe and warm my friend. I hope the cruel weather is not affecting you, we have been seeing the mazing snow storms over there. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I am in sunny, warm weather in Florida, temps are low 80’s F (27C) during the day, high 60s/low 70s at night. So I am warm and safe! We’re in Florida for another month or so. Home just finished getting snow, maybe about 6+ inches. Nothing really bad like so many other areas around the U.S. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. A collection of lovely photos Ashley, the pelican coming into land was a great shot. I’ve never seen a young crested tern before, they look like they lack the character of the adult but are still cute. Hope you are able to enjoy the last few weeks of summer up there, have a great week! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Sue, we usually see the young Terns and Gulls begging with their usual head bowing jig, but this one seemed quite content and just stood quietly. Summer this year is the complete opposite of last year, thankfully no smoke but many days of rain cold wind, with storms. It is a nice change but the birds didn’t think so and many have cleared out. Enjoy your week, Feb is the best month in Tassie. I have spend several Valentines days over there, and it snowed on Mt Wellington the day I left one year 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Haha yes I have heard of weird weather like that in Tassie, mostly in Hobart. Here in Launceston it’s quite warm, and heading into high 20s from tomorrow for a few days. Summer has finally arrived! 🌞

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Deborah, they are a funny little crab to watch as they form hundreds of battalions and run across the sand. They can feel the vibrations of my feet and cleverly move as a group away from my feet. They are larger and have harder shells then the crabs the birds like to eat, which they extract out of the sand. Enjoy your week my friend and stay warm 🙂


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