Last Sunday afternoon my wife and I went on another birding date to our local Royal National Park, the world’s second declared National Park and later became the Royal in 1955 to honour of the queen’s 1954 visit to Sydney when she passed through it by train.  As we walked along our usual walking trail, we noticed how quiet it was, very few birds were calling or even visible, it was already a changed season when birds are fewer and call less. Most birds like warmth and usually call more in the breeding season, both of which are months away. As we walked I suddenly stopped and my wife drew back as right in front of us on the track was the usual Red-bellied Black Snake innocently sunning itself in the Autumn sun, as the air is much cooler here in the mountains.

While these snakes are venomous and their bite poisonous, they are not usually aggressive and will try to retreat and only attack if threatened or with their young. They are the better snake to have around, as they kill the more aggressive and more deadly Brown Snake. I am well acquainted with them as years ago I had a family of large ones living in tall grass on my property near the dam and I hardly ever saw them.  So I quietly said to my wife “Come on love, just quietly walk around it”. I reassured a young couple who were following us that it was safe to walk past, though the snake had raised its head and was watching us. I also reassured them that their eyesight is not that good, and they rely on vibrations in the ground and air which their thousands of body sensors pick up. So they followed me safely around the snake which laid across much of the track and we made our way as I chatted with the couple, as I do.

It was good to see the new blooms of Banksia ericafolia out on many trees, being one of the few sources of winter nectar to the honeyeaters, apart from any of the few flowering eucalypts. The Eastern Spinebill in particular love to draw from these nectar filled treats.

Eastern Spinebill feeding

So far our long walk had given little birding pleasure, though we rejoiced in that it was  such a beautiful perfect still Autumn day which we enjoyed sharing together. Finally we came to a spot on the edge of the rainforest where we could hear many Scarlet Honeyeaters chiming in the trees above, and large mixed feeding flock of very small honeyeaters were moving rapidly around this vine which overhung the track. The sound of both the Yellow-faced and Lewins Honeyeater joined the chorus as they busily fed. The very tiny Scarlets, as you know, usually do not come near the ground, but dine high in the eucalypt canopy.

But then we shared an amazing moment when a male Scarlet Honeyeater came down to feed from the overhanging vine and we captured several rare flight shots of this bird.

To see how tiny this bird is to see, especially from a 30 to 40 meter tree top this was from a distance, as the bird is extremely human shy.

Not to mention the shots of him feeding. Please be aware that some enhancement of the lighting was required as in some instances there either was too much or not enough, which is one of the difficulties with rainforest photography. I was unable to capture the female as she kept well hidden in the foliage.

Here is what this little guy sounds like.

We made our way back to the park Cafe for a lovely lunch. As we were finishing lunch after chatting with a young couple nearby and having checked the park’s shop to see how my books were selling, we heard the sound of Noisy Friarbirds, a winter bird we seldom see here, eating from the fruit of the introduced trees near the river, so I hurried over, and so did the waitress some minutes later with the bill. These birds are rated as one of our noisiest birds and their classic call draws a birders attention. They are actually another large honeyeater.

Here’s what they sound like, it is similar to the Red Wattlebird’s call, but more monotonous. You will also detect in the middle of the recording the brief sounds of the Rainbow Lorikeet and Sulphur-crested Cockatoo.


Have a wonderful week and stay warm and safe.

If this is your first visit “Welcome !” and feel free to check out the pages on my website from my Menu or Home Page

It is good that my opportunities to speak at schools and do book signing mornings are beginning to return again as Covid outbreaks have been paused in our state, after a year and half of only working from home.


The greatest challenge to a person entering a dense rainforest is coping with the reduced light, which can give an eerie feeling. Some become quite afraid and very cautious, especially overseas tourists whom I have led through them. Their fear is already conjured of deadly snakes, spiders and birds, not to mention blood sucking leeches and the fear of loosing your way, which I have done on occasions walking alone in unfamiliar forests, it can be very scary. It gets very dark, very quickly when the sun is not shining over its canopy. I soon reassure them that our rainforests in NSW are very safe places to walk, apart from leeches in the wet season when you always carry some salt or a box of matches. Most of the deadly creatures live in the dry woodland areas or in the forests of Far North Queensland. Where the light does break through it can be very beautiful

Much of our fear comes from perceived threats, either from misconceptions or erroneous information, which may never be realized. When we have a guide or someone who is familiar with the forest we feel safe and can enjoy the experience. Fear is our biggest enemy in life as much as it is our greatest protection from choosing to endanger ourselves. As I am quoted saying Fear Freezes and Faith Forwards. To navigate life safely and wisely we need the best kind of advice, encouragement and assistance we can get. The best is from our manufacturer, the Author of Life himself in the Bible. Also my published books, which though they never mention God at all, contain the wisdom and help needed to navigate a healthy and happy life: – emotionally, physically, socially and mentally.  When it is all said, the proof is in the pudding.

 The honor of good people will lead them, but those who hurt others will be destroyed by their own false ways.” – Proverbs 11:3

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” – Galations 6:7

or…  ‘What goes around, comes around.’ which is highlighted and explained in my book “What Birds Teach Us” with the behaviour of the Pied Currawong.

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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.

 

10 Comments »

  1. Hello Ash,
    The Scarlet Honeyeater captures are wonderful and it surely must have been a double blessing to share the moment together with your wife. I am so glad that the young couple could rely on your experience and wisdom to not “panic” at the sight of the Red-bellied Black Snake, and I am happy you provided more insight into them! We humans seem to have inherited a sense of fear especially of “darker” places, but as you say, perceived fear is what often causes the most danger. Thanks for the reminder to have matches and flashlights on hand when hiking through the darker areas! My husband was an avid hiker/mountain climber years ago, and like you, it’s second nature for him to always carry a match or two, and be aware of the surrounding environment.

    I’m very happy to now be up-to-date on your wonderful articles 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Takami, It is good that you have been able to catch up with my bog posts, I have been concerned for your health as we pray daily for you both. It is a great asset to have an experienced hiker like your hubby. Knowledge and experience together give much peace and calmness of mind when walking in the bush.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Deborah, yes the reds are so stunning in the sunlight, in fact the red on the male bird is usually the only way to actually spot them high in the trees as they are so tiny and their call usually in several trees as they move rapidly around inside the canopy.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello Ashley,
    Oh what a great find. Not a bird that is a regular in my area.
    We occasionally get a visit by them, but the conditions have to be exceptional.
    Wonderful shots of them in flight.
    Their distinctive call is a great way to find them as inspite of the rich colours they always seem to be able to disappear among the foliage.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks David, we have been truly blessed by a longer than usual presence of this bird from summer to winter. We use to only see them in winter but they stayed last season also as did the Rufous fantail who have now gone. Since the fires, floods and drought many birds have changed their travel plans similar to us in the Covid. Everything is being turned upside-down, shaken and stirred making us all realise that we can not rely on tomorrow being similar to today and plan too far ahead anymore. The Yellow-faced Honeyeaters at least are following their usual plan and have arrived in great numbers. I was truly blessed to see scarlet checking out this low hanging vine, and thankfully I was prepared for him, though I had trouble focusing with my eyes, and did get some noise from the reduced light, We use to think we were hearing Grey Fantails before we discovered the call of the Scarlets as they were always present along the tracks but on one occasion when no Fantails could be found we frustratedly searched to reveal we were hearing Scarlets all along, and learned to decipher the nuances of their call and get a little excited when we hear them, but always come away with a crook neck 🙂 Hope you get some relief soon for the lock-down and get out into the sunlight and get some vitamin D, especially for your wife. Glad she is doing well and on the mend, keeping her in our prayers. Say safe and warm.

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  3. Your Scarlet Honeyeater captures are stunning, Ashley! I enjoyed them very much!! Great eye with the snake, I’m always trying to ensure I pay attention to everything around me, including the ground. It is common to find rattle snakes at our present location, so we’re both keeping our eyes to the ground for them. 🧐

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Donna, wow having to deal with a Rattler would be more of a problem than dealing with a Red-belly, but I guess we live in a country full of dangerous and deadly creatures yet few die as a result, so somehow we all seem to get along together as long as we don’t threaten the other, but yeah you have to keep your eyes open and mind alert to the danger in places where they habitate.

      Liked by 1 person

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