Last Wednesday was a perfect still, blue Winter sky day before the cold wet day that followed. So on the spare of the moment we decided to have a birding date, as my wife wanted a fishnchip lunch followed by a whale watch. Cape Banks at the northern entrance to Botany Bay in the Botany Bay National Park, Sydney is one of the best viewing spots for the Humpback and Right Whale migration up the coast at present. On arrival as we walked past the thick bushes we could hear, but not see very well, many small birds including the Superb and Variegated Fairy-wren and Yellow-faced Honeyeater.
On our approach to the cape this lone White-faced Heron was stalking about.
As we made our way up onto the rock platform where we get a 180° ocean view from above we noted this rock formation among many.
I mentioned to my wife that a family of Australian Pipit lived on this rock platform among the small shrubs and grasses, and within minutes we saw the pair doing their usual strut: run stop freeze. Run stop freeze etc They run so fast it is difficult to keep up with them. I muted the sound due to wind noise, the birds were not calling while we were there, as they seldom do.
One appeared of lighter plumage than the other but they appeared to be together most times. These birds are often found along the coast on these sandstone rock platforms. They pair to breed.
Pipits are found all over Australia and have five races of which this race, australis is the nominate. They mainly feed on insects and their larvae as well as seeds. They spend most of their time foraging on the ground and only fly to escape danger, as they are territorial.
We both kept scanning the flat sea for signs of whales but to our disappointment not one appeared the whole time. A local said she saw many yesterday, but that’s how it is. As we sat cuddled and looked out together my wife was suddenly alarmed that someone was behind her. It was a very friendly male Australian Magpie. These very intelligent birds learn quickly that humans are good for food, which we had none to share. It later followed us around. This birds feeds from the ground in a similar way to the Pipit.
Click on link below to view an amazing story of how God sent an Australian white-backed Magpie into the life of a young lady living alone suffering anxiety and depression. It will give you an idea of how intelligent, playful and community minded these birds are and warm your heart. Click on: Lees Birdwatching Adventures Plus and a big thanks to Lee for having posted it on her blog. As we moved to a new location on the rock we saw the Pipit again, and caught it flying off as it saw us moving.
We noticed several birds passing bye about 100 meters out to see, and my wife said they were not gulls but had a yellow head. I knew immediately they were Australasian Gannets, which are occasionally seen along the coast, as are their young, this time of year, because they move north to escape the freezing Southern Ocean cold.
Thankfully the afternoon sun was behind us and dropping fast being winter so we managed reasonable clarity considering they were out fair distances and many shots were needed to get reasonable captures. These ocean birds are expert fishers, as fish are their main diet and they can locate fish from over 10 meters above the water and dive rapidly as they fold back their wings making a perfect splash into the ocean to retrieve their catch and eat it as they float on the surface. They are able to herd fish into dense shoals. I managed to catch a dive as it plunged to the water.
As we were about to walk back to our car as the sun started getting lower we saw this pair of Pied Cormorant pass and several Crested Terns.
As we were about to drive off this Common Starling glimmered in the sun as it sat enjoying its warmth before it slipped away. It it quite beautiful in sunlight despite its vagrant pest status in our country.
Enjoy your week and weekend and stay warm and safe. Our hearts go out to those back in lock-down. I will be in Dungog on a special booksigning Saturday this week during the Long Weekend celebrations.
This award winning artist, Helen Leane, is painting artwork from photos in my book and they will be on show also. I will be doing a radio interview in the morning. They will have face painting (birds will be the subject), live music and I will be showing my special bird book promotional movies.
While we did not see a whale on the day, we both had a whale of a time just sitting together and enjoying sharing the moment. This reminds us that it is not only about the outcome, otherwise we would become disappointed easily when we do not have the desired outcome, but it is more about the journey, and enjoying the ride together. We enjoyed the Gannets and Pipits, and the lovely still blue ocean as we sat on the headland. It is also a popular wedding photo spot.
“I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.” – Psalm 77:12
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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.