Last Tuesday on a beautiful Autumn day I travelled north to  winery areas behind Newcastle, our state’s second largest city, not to taste wine, but in search of several rare and endangered birds, including the Regent Honeyeater and Swift Parrot. To my disappointment, I did not see any birds to photograph, but a small flock of Swift Parrot flew off on my arrival at a tall eucalypt on a 4 WD track in the Werataka Conservation Reserve. It took 3 hours to get there and I did not want to leave without seeing something, so I took a further drive several kilometres from there to Werataka National Park.

As I drove into the parking area, I heard and then saw several Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo fly off. Thankfully they landed, nearby the tall Casuarina trees they were feeding from. During the colder months these birds migrate to the coast for warmth and seed pods, returning to the mountains to breed in Spring. I quickly parked and walked to the sound of their call which male was making to his partner and their juvenile from the previous nesting season, which was making the usual repetitive hungry begging call. Because I had interrupted their feeding, as the tree was next to the road, they were cautiously waiting to see what I would do. This is the classic call that immediately delights and draws birders.

The male sat alone in a tree watching the female and juvenile as they rested in another tree, with the juvenile wining the whole time. The male has the pink eye ring and the female and juvenile have none. The juvenile resembles the female until it reaches maturity and the sex can be determined.

Yellow-tails lay 2 eggs but usually only one survives. Often the family return to feed and fly with the flock after the juvenile is able to feed, joining other new families, as the flock offers protection, security and social interaction. This intelligent bird stays away from humans and is able to organize an army or squadron as they known to attack, round up and hold at bay their main competitor for food, the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, so they may eat in peace with their young safe. I have witnessed this personally and contributed it to university research into this bird, as many would have seen me blog this several years ago.  Some would remember this photo among others.

Yellow-tailed squadron leave guards to keep the Sulpur-cresteds in this eucalypt tree, while the others return to feed in the pine forest below.

Yellow-tails lend themselves to great tail shots, especially when landing. They feature on the Introduction and Contents pages of my latest book. The main problem photographing them is that black, as with white, is difficult to get clarity of the bird’s features, especially in poor or defused light.

So that was my birding day out over 7 hours traveling of over 400 km round trip, and then to get caught in the very busy and slow commuter traffic coming home. I am so thankful I was granted the family of Yellow-tails, in my last attempt, so all was not lost. To finish it off, as I waited in the traffic lights on the return home I managed to grab my camera to catch this small flock of Little Corella watching the sun set, a Cockie that often feeds with the Yellow-tail and Sulphur-crested Cockatoos. Here is the original with sunset colours…

Here it is with the white correction for the birds…

Here is the final correction for the photo…


Have a most enjoyable week enjoying the warm crisp clear Autumn / Spring days (depending on which side of the world you are) , and stay safe. 

If you have not yet checked out my books and plan on visiting our National Parks on your holidays or weekends, why not drop into the Visitor Centre Shops and check them out. They are also available at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat in the Lamington National Park, Queensland, one of Australia’s most significant birding areas and a place every birder should not miss visiting. Many tourist visitor centres, gift shops and bookstores throughout NSW also stock my books. 


You will remember in my last post I referred to the value of Contentment in life and how it is a goal that most of us seek, but eludes us because our stress and selfish desires cause us disappointment and failure to fully appreciate and enjoy what we have already been blessed with.  As an Anonymous Someone once said:

And further to that…

I was disappointed and complained to God that my journey (referring to above post) had been a waste of time, as I had been hoping for much more. During my unhappy moment, I had a sudden realization and a bounce back as I bounced along the rugged pot holed track to nowhere, and started thanking God for the beautiful day, the quietness, fresh air, for my car and the ability to just come here and be free to move about when the rest of the world is deep in Covid.  It was a Mindful Moment I needed to have, and I was taken over 200 km from home to have it. This brought a peace and as I entered into my Attitude of Gratitude it was then that I was given insight to leave this area as fast as I could and go to Werakata NP, where I was granted the gift of the Yellow-tail family, which was my only bird delight for the day, but one for which I was thankful, as God had shown me I had no reason to be so upset, as we all know in birding: You get what you get on the day. If you are interested in discovering more about Mindfulness in Birding  click here. The importance of this life skill is also covered in my new book Flight of a Fledgling.

“Be thankful in every situation for this is God’s will [God’s best for a happy stress free life] for you…” – 1 Thess 5:18

For you created my inmost being;  you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
 “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;  your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”- Psalm 139: 13-15

So if you feel you are becoming angry and upset with what you have not got or  achieved, or what you have lost or have failed to gain, pull back and stop, take a deep few breaths, relax and shake your hands loosely and start realizing what you do have and appreciate and say thank you for it, and re realize that everything we have is a gift, which we have on loan to us and which will pass from us one day when we depart this life.

the DVD
The Book

Another area in which we can counsel ourselves, which I use on myself and share with others who are perplexed or overwhelmed, is that when things start stressing us because the goal or ambition we have set before us looks too large and overwhelming, break it up into smaller goals by listing the target goal into smaller doable goals and achievements, and be thankful and reward yourself with a well done as you accomplish each small goal This will encouage you to press on and before long you will have reached the bigger goal, happy and not so stressed.You may have read the book or seen the movie “Touching The Void”, the true story how Joe Simpson survived a mountain climbing accident alone in the Andes, his success was partly because he used this same principle and it saved his life, miraculously.


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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.

 

16 Comments »

  1. Hello Ash,
    I wanted to catch up on one more blog article before calling it a day. I can of course relate and understand the initial disappointment for not having quite the birding day as hoped for, especially when traveling such a long distance! But I am very happy you were blessed with the views of the Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo, and were then able to enjoy the “now” and how you are surrounded by beautiful nature in your beautiful country 🙂 The reminder to be thankful for what we have (including the journey) and keep a healthy perspective is much appreciated and much needed, especially during these ongoing challenges.

    I hope to catch up on more of your posts over the next few days!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Takami, yes it was a good reminder to me personally, and to see this family of Cockies was a blessing, as I have not seen many this year as I normally do. We do hope you are able to get out birding when you can, despite the Covid and work demands.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Those cockatoos certainly have a unique call that all we birdlovers love to hear! I can’t help but rush outside or go to a window when I hear them flying over my house, they are just wonderful to watch as they fly by, usually as if they are just cruising through the neighbourhood. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Sue, yes we both know the excitement of that unique call of theirs and the delight of watching the squadron fly over, it is even more exciting to see them feeding and get close. Enjoy your weekend my friend 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Donna, the tail fanned is the great feature to capture, but is only when they land or manoeuvre that you see it, most only see the closed tail when they fly over. Their call excites us as it does most birders as it is a bird we all love to see.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Deborah, yes many people all over the world have our wild birds from the Parrot family in cages as pets. The early English settlers found a lucrative trade in netting and sending Budgies, Parrots and Cockatoos as pets as they are colorful and have so much character, but mainly because they can be trained to talk, which is an important skill for these birds in the wild when in flock, which I explain in my new book. It is always exciting to see these birds they always get birders on the run when they hear that unique call. To get open tail shots is always the cream of seeing this bird and many never get to catch it. Sometimes the only way you know they are in the trees is to hear falling remnants of seed cones as they feed silently high in the native Casuarina trees, well hidden by theur colour.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What a heart warming story Ashley,
    They are such characters. The young ones calling always seem to not know if they are begging or just calling because they can.
    We don’t have them as regulars. They seem to come and go on some seasonal thing, at the present they are in good numbers, but that is after about three years of absence.

    You’re right about that amazing tail. Just seeing them is one thing managing to be in the right place for the tail to show in the rich sunshine is quite another.

    That rattling call is always enough to make me head through the bush.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks David, yes the yellow=tails come down to the coast in cooler months in search of seed cones but breed in the mountains in summer. I see them often at any time of year in the Nasho as it has mountains around it, there is a huge flock there but we never get a good look at them as they stay over in the valley, but we happen upon them feeding at times because unlike the predictable Sulphur-cresteds they are not as territorial and can turn up anywhere. We have young Noisy Miners that make that repetitive sound all day here at home each day when they bring it to feed, I can’t wait for them to take it away sometimes. Yes the tail shots are cream of this birds photogenically, and usually only seen when they are landing or maneuvering, as most flyovers are non revealing. Thankfully I know where to look locally at present, but as you said they have not been easy to find since the big smoke of the fires, and are starting to turn up again unexpectedly. They always get birders on the run when they hear that unique call. My problem with the shots from this episode was the variation in shade and bright sunlight, which spoilt the final shot some. I hope #kneetoo is improving and pain and swelling reducing. Enjoy the rest of the week while the weather is so good.

      Like

  4. Great post! That is a long trek looking for birds, and that looks like a cool bird 😎 I appreciate that you included the bird sounds. And yes indeed! No matter what, be grateful for what we have. When you change your perspective everything looks different! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Lisa for your welcome comment, these large birds are quite impressive to see in flight, and birders get quite excited just to hear their unique call. You are so right about our perspective and how it changes our perception of now and what we are experiencing. Thanks so much for sharing and enjoy the rest of the week 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. What an amazing bird, I have not heard of this one. Here one can only see a cockatoo bird if they are in a cage. Amazing to see them flying free. I so agree with you on everything we have is a gift, even the land I live on, I don’t technically own it. I am just taking care of it for our creator. Makes one appreciate everything even more.😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Sandra, yes many people all over the world have our wild birds from the Parrot family in cages as pets. The early English settlers found a lucrative trade in netting and sending Budgies, Parrots and Cockatoos as pets as they are colorful and have so much character, but mainly because they can be trained to talk, which is an important skill for these birds in the wild when in flock, which I explain in my new book. These birds are normally found in large flocks but break off into family groups when breeding. Enjoy the rest of your week my friend 🙂

      Like

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