Last Sunday, seeking the elusive Swift Parrot once again, along with many Sydney birders, we took a drive to Mt Annan, Australian Botanic Gardens to the same small area which consists of a large cluster of very tall eucalypts around a natural spring pond, which is permanently patrolled by a clan of Bell Miners, which is why it is rich in lerps (bird candy) attracting both Honeyeaters, Lorikeets and Parrots as nectar is in low supply this season. See how heavily affected these leaves are, and the dead spots are where the previous larvae were before being eaten.

Heavily lerped leaf (white patches) with many dead patches on eucalypt leaves.

As I shared in previous posts the Bell Miner is a threat to the survival of many eucalypt trees and responsible for the sickness and ultimate death of many trees in past years. Government conservationists have been tackling this problem for some years now, but with little success. More pictures of the noisy culprits.

Spotted Pardolote were present in small numbers high in the canopy as per usual, seeking to avoid the wrath of the Bell Miner who attack them because their diet consists mainly of lerps and the Psyllid insect, and the Bell Miner harvests the insect larvae. Both birds are featured in my book “What Birds Teach Us” and also in “Flight of a Fledgling“.

Spotted Pardolote male, notice lerps bottom right.

By now many more birders had arrived with their super lenses and binoculars, mostly from the local birding group on Facebook, but no Swifty sightings had been seen yet only the elusive and difficult to see Little Lorikeet, which looks very similar and is also tiny. See below how difficult it is to see these birds 400 mm lens to top of tree and only the red around the mouth gives it away.

This highlights the need for sunlight to shoot into the side of the tree canopy to successfully photograph these birds. Mid afternoon to pre sunset is the best time, providing the clouds are not there. Sadly many of my shots are in the dark foliage. The other feature of these small green parrots is that they fly inside the canopy and are seldom feeding on the outside, this befits them protection from larger predatory birds.

We were delighted to find this western bird the White-naped Honeyeater feeding in large numbers on lerps also. A feature of this bird’s feeding habits is how it hangs by its feet to eat the lerps from the leaf as seen below. The rarer Fuscous Honeyeater, another western bird was also present, but too fast for me to get more than one shot.

Fuscous Honeyeater

Then I saw this very quiet Whistler which looked different from the usual Rufous and Golden we see around here. I later found it to be an apparent lifer the Olive Whistler, both male and female, which though can be found here is seldom seen.

Our most commonly seen Honeyeater throughout the winter months is the Yellow-faced Honeyeater usually heard first by its chuckling call. They were chasing each other and enjoying the afternoon sun, and much more exposed than the parrots.

These bare branches are where the Swift Parrots use to land in previous years just before sunset and the birds would gather here and wait for them to land, but since and during the year of smoke and fire they did not return, but only just now but not in large numbers. Watch as this Yellow-faced Honeyeaters bully displays its dominance of position to one of a quiet pair enjoying the afternoon sun, by causing it to fall off its perch. The bully continued on its way. The incident was unnecessary and pointless, as it is in most bullying situations.

As I stood by the spring filled pool I was surprised as this strange large bird flew toward me and then deviated off into the pool. I was surprised to find it was a lone Pacific Black Duck, an unusual appearance. Note its beautiful speculum. Then it just turned around and looked at me, as these birds are known to be bold food scammers with humans.

As I filmed the burst of the duck landing I captured this interesting piece of art. A fusion of reflection and disturbance.

No Swifties today, but we did see some interesting and unexpected not so common birds. That’s what makes birding an exciting hobby, as Forrest Gump said: ‘its like a box of chocolates, you don’t know what you are going to get’.  We will most likely try again another time on another adventure.


My eldest son recently purchased a board game, which many of you may already be familiar with called “Wingspan” which we have been playing together with family and enjoying it. American based it features birds of the Northern Hemisphere, but a Oceanic Bird pack can be purchases to include Aussie birds.

It is like a Monopoly with birds and their food and eggs as money and their habitats as landing points, yet very different and a point score based game for 4. Once you gain the concept your away. They have a starter pack to help you get gain the game’s concept, as it introduces you to the different birds and their requirements and behaviors.


Have a wonderful week and stay safe, even if vaccinated.

These days are daily challenging every one globally with the fact that we do not have control over tomorrow and plans can change in an instant as we are finding here, as sporadic outbreaks continue to cause major disruptions to many. The question many are asking: Is our Creator trying to get our attention?

We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps”.-Proverbs 16:9 (NLT)

You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.” Proverbs 16:21


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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.

 

15 Comments »

  1. Well done Ashley, a fine walk in the forest. The swifties just don’t perform to the script do they,.

    The Whistler looks so well dressed in the rich orange colours.
    The Bell Miners are very territorial, and have ruined several stands of gum in areas around here.

    Hope for good weather for awhile.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks David, yes everyone is on the lookout for the Swifties here at the moment, and the Government is trying to get in on the action to pretend they are interested in helping while they allow the daily devastation of their winter habitat forests, especially our state gov, they are notorious for it.

      The Swifties can turn up anywhere where winter blossom is found and plenty of lerps. Enjoy the lovely Autumn weather while it lasts and the weekend.

      Like

  2. Lovely photos Ashley. How curious to see that duck all on its own, probably hoping for a free handout lol. That board game looks good, might have to check it out as it could be some fun during the cold winter days coming up. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Sue, yes it was unusual for a black duck, though being outside of breeding season it could be single and late teenage and not yet found a partner. We are still looking to get the Aussie pack for the board game, though we are learning more about American birds. It has a maximum of 4 players but I am not sure if you can get an expander.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello Ash,
    I am glad you were blessed with some more wonderful bird viewings, even if the Swift Parrot was not present, these were some very exciting birds. Reading of the plight of the eucalypt trees and how vulnerable the fine balance of nature and the ecosystem is a solemn reminder on how “balance” is so important, and so difficult to keep especially during our modern times. I also loved the natural subtle colors of the quiet Whistler.

    The bird board game looks great. It must be real fun to sit together as a family and enjoy interaction that is not dependent on a monitor screen. I fondly recall some of my childhood playing board games, although we did not have bird-themed ones back then 🙂

    We hope your week has been blessed and wish you and all your loved ones a safe and happy weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Takami, so glad you enjoyed the birds we saw. We get several species not found in the coastal forests on the western fringe of Sydney. It was the colour of the Olive Whistler that alerted me to the subtle difference to the female Rufous Whistler. It is lovely when one each of our grown up children who visit, join in the board game together. May you both also enjoy a restful weekend and opportunity to get out and enjoy your Spring. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks HJ, we never know what extra birds we will see, as we know particular species will always be there such as the Bell Miner and Bowerbird, but these Honeyeaters are seasonal and add a delight as they rapidly zoom about the blossom and lerps.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you brother for another lovely birding experience. I always learn something new, even if I need an internet search. Seems like God made ‘lerps’ a tasty treat for birds!
    So much to discover, thank you Ashley for sharing your findings. And I do so appreciate the scriptures, those are ‘tasty treats’ for my soul.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Lisa Beth, yes lerps is the candy shop for birds, but it is free as Jesus said, being our greatest birdwatcher, our Heavenly Father provides it for them free of charge, they just have to seek it out. Mat 6:26. Itis their only source of energy when the blossom is scarce as it is now. Enjoy your weekend dear sister !

      Liked by 1 person

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