Yes its that time of year again when I honor the bird featured in my previous book as our most endurant bird, the Bar-tailed Godwit, which many of you know is one of my favorites. Click on photos to enlarge them.
As the first tastes of Autumn have come in for an early Winter blast, these birds will be taking off this week and next on a 12,000 to 16,000 km journey via the Asian coastline to Alaska and Siberia, returning to this same beach next Spring. The Bar-tailed Godwit is one of the highest flying birds in the world, able to reach heights of over 6,000 meters (20,000′). They can fly very high in flock rising to travel on the upper winds.
In Spring they will fly back non stop across the Pacific Ocean to Australia and New Zealand, guided by the sun and stars, spending between 6 to 8 days in the air. In the photo above you will notice the rufous breeding plumage almost complete in this male, but the females and juveniles have no visible changes. The females may change later but not as intensely as the males, and the juveniles will in a few years when they mature.
You will notice the subtle differences in plumage differentiating female from juvenile below, as the youngsters have darker primary markings as well as a neck band similar to other juvenile bird species. It can be difficult as they look fully grown from a young age, but are seen trailing and keeping close to the parent during Summer months, but often staying back for a sabbatical non migratory year in Australia during the winter months, until strong enough to do the amazing flight. With the absence of adults, other juveniles will group together and forage each day in a tight little group. The female is slightly larger than the male and has a slightly longer beak.
So now the furious feeding race is on against time to fatten oneself up enough for the long flight. Sadly many of their feeding wetlands and beaches are being filled in along the Asian coastlines due to large land reclamation schemes, which is causing these birds much stress and threatening many species to extinction, as these birds will only stop at their historical places, taught them from generations of migrations. Check out the PDF articles on this problem posted by Birdlife International and our CSIRO here.
Notice above how these birds, with their long slightly curving upward beaks, will push it right down into the wet sand in search of food. The amazing thing is that this bird is slightly smaller than a Silver Gull, and my photos can be deceptive.These birds can be a challenge to locate on a low tide mud flat far out near the water line, as they blend in so well with the sand.
Here is an example of a family walking together with juveniles trailing. In this case the female has a crab and is not letting anyone take it.
Here is one furiously feeding male…
The Crested Tern family were unimpressed by all this activity, as they are non migratory and had recently fledged their young here. Several were in resting mode after an early morning feed.
The other shorebird that I saw last week feeding from a creek that flows into the same the same river was the vary shy and elusive Striated Heron (previously known as Mangrove Heron). This bird has always quickly walked or flown away when it sees me viewing it from the walking bridge at low tide. I have to always view this bird from a great distance, which makes my photos of lesser quality, as I have enough trouble just trying to see its small shape blending so well with the dark muddy sand. I spent some time unnoticed and watched it catch and eat several fish.
First, we stalk the fish in Heron style…
Secondly, we wait by the water with those small beady eyes and pounce at lightning speed to catch the fish…
Thirdly, we bring our catch to the beach and work out how we will consume it, as we have to get it into position to swallow it whole…
Last of all, we need to stretch our neck as we swallow to allow it to travel down into our stomach…
That’s that, ready for the next process.
Have a wonderful week and hope you are able to get out and enjoy some birding. My book is now at the printers and we are waiting for it’s release.
If this is your first visit to my website and blog check out my home page and other birding pages, you may find them of interest.
I love watching these birds seek out their food, which lies deep within the sands of low tide river beds. They use their beaks to quickly press down hoping to feel a small crustacean or worm. Sometimes they press their whole head into the sand, or push their head below the water in search. They commonly use a jack-hammer approach to search.
The words of Jesus have been repeated by many a parent or teacher over the years, implying that those who seek and keep on seeking (which is implied in the original Greek text being in present continuous tense), will be the winners in the end to achieve their goal and destiny.
To have this mindset one must first of all: need what they are seeking and then believe or have a reason to hope that what they seek can be found.
Paul the apostle of Jesus puts it simply to the great Greek minds of his day in his famous Areopagus address on Mars Hill (a place we never got to see last year due to Covid):
“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.” – Acts 17: 24-28 (NIV)
Many have asked why Jesus, who for many, made trusting God so simple, yet for others made it so hard. Why speak in parables and answer each question with a question? It all comes down to the fact that he knew the hearts and intentions of those who gathered around him,
“because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man.” – John 2:25
In so many places in each of the accounts about Jesus, the writer mentions how Jesus’s response was due to the divine insight he had about each of the people who confronted him, and this is why he shows mercy and love to the underdog, persecuted and outcast but is harder and more serious with the corrupt and hypocritical temple (church) leaders of his day.
“But Jesus perceived their malice, and said, “Why are you testing Me, you hypocrites?” – Matthew 22:18
This was the reason Jesus spoke in parables, which he explains to his disciples who ask that very question:
“The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” – Matthew 13:10
It is here that he draws a definitive contrast between those who truly seek him for who he is and trust in him, as against those who seek to put him down and actually fear him because he reveals what they are truly like and thus is a perceived threat to their power and lifestyle.
The problem is the same today as it was then.
I can remember as a teen when I played in my first band at dances and concerts, we all admired the Beatles and each of us had our favorite.
I can remember when the Beatles went searching for meaning and spirituality in their lives, led initially by George and John. They tried various means and religions and drugs to find the answer. The songs Eleanor Rigby and Nowhere Man are excellent examples of that time. Above are photos taken during our visit to the place where the Beatles started their music career in the Cavern Club in Liverpool.
Sadly the Christian church of their day in Britain did not communicate a relationship of love, peace and joy with Jesus nor the fulfilling life they were searching for, and eventually settled for an Eastern religious influence. Sadly many today continue to seek the experience and not the Person? My own personal experience was that I also was disappointed by the church of my day as a teen and was challenged to read the Bible for myself, and the words of Jesus spoke to me and that’s how I met him.
As in Jesus day,
Men again get in the way
Instead of living what they say
For Jesus himself said “I am the Way”
And comes to all who humbly seek and pray,
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, 2021.