Last weekend we traveled to the Blue Mountains National Park for the final stage of my wife’s birthday week with her children. We stayed in a home overlooking the Jamison Valley at Echo Point, Katoomba.  This is our view as the local Pied Currawong clan hark in the morning.

This deep valley, lined by tall sheer sandstone cliffs, and is Australia’s favorite and most visited national park, especially the rock formation called the Three Sisters, from which we were only a five minute walk. You can see from the background how they came to be called the BLUE Mountains, by the eucalyptus vapour which rises from the gum leaves of the millions of trees in the valley which is larger than the Grand Canyon. 

The Three Sisters

Most of the valley is dense rainforest and rivers, waterfalls and usually lots of rainforest birds. The most fun way to get down into the valley is by the Scenic Railway, which is the steepest railway in the world. The journey only lasts a few minutes and here’s why…

Katoomba is 1,017 meters above sea level so it got very cold very quickly at night, especially when the icy blast hit NSW on Saturday night. Sunday morning with 4°C wind chill I ventured out alone in the cold wind birding the local area while the family stayed warm inside. Even the Currawongs were quiet and the squawk of a lone Cockatoo was the only bird heard. To my surprise I came across several feeding flocks of Brown Thornbill energetically foraging through the trees and shrubs around Echo Point, as if the cold air had electrified them, as they moved so fast I could barely keep up with them.

This tiny insectivorous bird is a bird of all seasons and weather and sometimes when I am out birding in the worse windy weather these little guys will be merrily making their way up all manner of trees making their beautiful call. I love their little purring sound.

So here is some of the photos I managed to catch when the bird stopped moving for one second. They get their name from the little thorn like beak. These birds think and move up to five times faster than us and are very difficult to capture when moving. They have already thought about the next movement and worked out their move while I eyes have only just focused on the birds last position. Click on them to enlarge.

They spend most of the time moving upward within the thick dark branches of the tree and seldom are in good light to photograph, which makes them a challenge along with their constant movement.

There are several species of Thornbill of which the Brown is the most common. These birds are often found in MMFs (Mixed Feeding Flocks) often with other small insectivorous birds similar in size. No matter how strong the wind they manage to continue their rapid forage unimpeded.

Each evening the local Pied Currawong clan came in large number to roost in the tall eucalypts nearby, making their classic evening calls as they call in their flock. This very interesting and unique Aussie bird was a new addition to the 2nd Edition of my first book.

With omnivorous Corvid like characteristics it has a very opportunistic nature and has many beautiful calls which is often the first and last heard each day joining in with the Magpies, Kookaburra, Butcherbird and Miners along with any others to form the morning and evening chorus.

Occasionally the Eastern Crimson Rosella would land nearby as it joined the Currawong and the Red Wattlebird as they fed from the flowers and fruit in the yard next door.

The lack of birds was made up for by the lovely family bonding time shared by all as we shared my wife’s birthday enjoyed very special meals and explored the rainforest in the valley below, where the reduced light did not enable any good photos of the other common rainforest birds found also in our national park back home.

Enjoy your week as the seasons change all over the world, and beautiful autumn days with colder nights become the current norm for us Aussies.

Welcome to new visitors to my blog and website. Please check out my birding pages on my Home Page. 

Check out my unique books on Australian birds and their interesting behaviours from which valuable life lessons are gleaned.  Thank you to those Followers who have already made their online purchases, some have taken advantage of the special 2 book deal. Click on the book covers to find out more.

Some may have concerns that my books have religious content, but that is not true. Those of my blog Followers who have purchased my books will attest to this fact. My books are enjoyed by people of all cultures and beliefs, as well as those that claim no religious affiliation. This is because these books as counselling tools can show no religious bias. Much of modern counselling is derived from the wisdom of the scriptures, having been proven in time. I can assure you God and reference to my belief platform is not mentioned in either book. The books use the behaviour of our birds to help people to get more out of life by encouraging them to make good life choices.  From the feedback I am constantly receiving, I am constantly delighted that they are doing just that.


Thornbills are very resilient little birds. They are a tiny super bird able to stand up to the most adverse conditions. There ability to think and reason at lightning speed along with their ability to continually move have helped preserve them. One thing we can learn from them is do not let your circumstances determine your attitude or emotional response. Similar to these birds it is possible to maintain a cool and rational approach to life’s curved balls when they hit us unexpectedly, as they do everyone at one time or another. This is one of the important issues dealt with in my new book “Flight of a Fledgling”, dealing with life’s unexpected challenges in a rational and peaceful manner.

“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 (NIV)

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” – John 14:27

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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, 2021.



  1. Hello Ash!
    I can’t believe it is almost a month, but I am very much enjoying catch up on your articles that are always so lovingly written and a wealth of information. What a wonderful, and blessed birthday week it was for your wife and her children – and of course for you too. The views of the landscape and canyon are absolutely breathtaking and the steepest railway in the world must certainly not be for the faint of heart 🙂

    The little Thornbills (I can see why they get their English name!) are a real treat to view. My husband and I dream of visiting your beautiful country and seeming some of our human and avian friends (including our favorite waders such as whimbrels, godwits and the shy curlew) on the “other half of the hemisphere.” Until then, we do enjoy viewing your birds through your lens and writing.

    I think I am now all caught-up on the blog posts, and look forward to reading your latest article over the weekend. May you continue to stay blessed, safe and well!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much Takami, I always have joy and delight in your appreciative and grateful spirit for my blog posts, it is most encouraging. There are times when I wonder what to present and the Lord just hands it to me in unexpected ways. It wold be a lovely experience for both yourselves and us to have time together in our unique part of the world and do some birding together. I use to enjoy meeting birders from all over the world, mainly from the US, NZ and UK, but in recent years birders from India and Japan have also been occasionally included. I use to be told by the National Park cafe staff when there were birders looking for tips in our National Parks, but their absence is just another casualty of Covid. I occasionally meet new Aussie birders on holidays and give them a free birding walk which they are very thankful for. Some shops in high throughput overseas tourist areas will not stock my books because the Covid forbids overseas travelers(except NZ) entering our country, and they depend on it to survive. One of my main ones in the Mountains is reducing stock till things go back to normal as are several others, very concerned and having too much stock. Thank you for your prayers and support for the sales of my books they are truly appreciated. I have had an offer to go to a country town to do a special book signing day as they have sold so many of my books, the shop owner is paying for us to stay in expensive accommodation for the weekend. Things are slowly returning. I have an offer to do a special school presentation and book sale later in the year also, and waiting on another school which I have sold many books at in previous years to approve me having a good spot in their Community Festival which is back on again later this year. I am very thankful things are starting to move forward again, but the Covid concern never goes fully away. Keep waiting and resting on the Lord, renew your strength and rise up with eagles wings my friend. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I enjoyed seeing the videos of the pied currawongs and listening to their beautiful range of calls, one of my favourite birds. The currawongs in Tassie sound completely different, but I guess they would have the same behavioural characteristics as the pied currawongs on the mainland. And yes, those thornbills are so difficult to photograph well as they move so fast and are usually in low light, very frustrating! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Sue, Yes your Black Currawong is very unique in Tassie, and I love the trumpeting sound it makes, it is very loud up close. The Thornbills are always a challenge to us photographers, which makes birding all the more interesting. Enjoy your weekend 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Well done Ashley, the little Brown Thornbills are always easy to hear, but never that easy to get out in the open for a good photo. Then a few times a year they seem happy to be out from under the canopy. Lovely to see that ruby rich red eye.

    Ahh the Katoomba Railway. I didn’t know it had reopened. Not necessarily for the faint of heart. But to a ‘cool’ teenager, before ‘selfies’, quite a daring few minutes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks David, yes the little Thornbills are one of our most challenging photographic subjects. Similar to the Tree Creepers and Rufous Fantail, they only look good in bright sunlight, and they tend to steer clear of it. Yes they only recently had the railway going again, as it was closed during Covid and completely refurbished with new enclosed carriages, not as fun as the open ones, but better for poor weather. My wife was terrified going down as she has trouble with fast downward motion. They have improved the boardwalks through the rainforest below and remains quite intact with vines and lianas and the occasional bird, but too dark for good photos. Enjoy the weekend.


    • Thanks Donna, It was especially special to her being able to share it with her children, we had such a lovely weekend and enjoyed some fun together, which meant the absence of birds was not a problem on this occasion. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The Thornbird is so cute. Its round little body reminds me of our Bushtits here in the Western US.

    That train going down the mountain reminded me of the time when I was a kid we went to the Lewis and Clark Cavern in Montana one year as a side trip while on vacation. We had to ride up to the mouth of the cave in little open train cars, and the climb was steep. My mother who is terrified of heights was a mess. We kids loved it- the ride down was the most fun for us, but not her, unfortunately.

    Years later as an adult I took my husband and son there and they had dismantled the train and now you have to hike up. The train got too rickety and dangerous the guide said so they shut it down. I’m glad I had a chance to ride it was back when!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing Deborah, My wife was the same as your mum, she was terrified of going down hill also, even in the car due to a past bad experience, and she screamed as we all enjoyed the ride down. This train was remade recently I think as it was an open carriage and you could hang out of it, it is now all weather and safer, with different seat adjustments for the fearful or the brave. It was originally a coal miners train to move coal from the valley to the top many years ago, and lay idle for many years till someone had the idea of making a tourist attraction out of it. The old mine and the tools they used can be seen as part of the rainforest walk in the valley. We can come back up also by Scenic Cableway. Thanks again for sharing your experience, I appreciate it Deborah 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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