A couple of days before an unexpected sudden Covid lock-down I went for a health walk in our local Oatley Park Reserve, from which I have posted previously many times. To my surprise it was as if I was not aware of what season it actually was here, I could have mistakenly thought it was Spring or at least late August (Aussie bush Spring). Firstly it was the many blooms of the two species of native wattle that grow here.
Secondly, the number of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Rainbow Lorikeets beginning to nest. Though we are on the border of the two distinct nesting seasons for these birds being in Sydney, it seems strange to see such activity in full swing. However, the absence of the Spring migrants and other nesting songbirds brings us back to reality. Here a male Cockie puts on a protective warding off performance to other Cockies who want to steal his nesting hole. Note the cone erection and wing flapping to make him more threatening. Sorry for the poor footage, he was some distance away.
Cockie families were gathered around their regular nesting holes preparing for the new season. As I have shared in previous posts, these birds nest in the same area each year, and choose the Angophora costata tree (Sydney Red Gum) for nesting due to the many holes it leaves in its growth and death.
At this time of year most members of the Parrot family, of which Australia is very well endowed with many and varied species, are eating the native eucalypt gumnuts, wattle seeds and Casuarina pine cones of the previous Summer, which is their primary food for now as you can see here..
These Cockies are noisy at the best of times, right through the day you can hear them squawking and shrilling, and it is good they do not roost near our home, as they make their loudest racket at dawn and sunset when coming and going from their roosting sight, which is not hard to find as they leave much faecal mess, feathers and broken off tree twigs on the ground below, due to their naturally destructive behaviour, as they are always testing out and strengthening their powerful beaks, designed for crushing seed pods and seeds..
The Rainbow Lorikeets also compete for nesting holes in the same trees and both species nest alongside each other often causing alarm to the other as they protectively guard their area. Many Aussies are not aware how brutal and dangerous Rainbow Lorikeets are to other birds that try to attack or displace them. They are one of the few bird species that other birds, such as Miners, think twice about attacking, because of the deep wounds their beaks inflict. They are super protective of their partners because they pair for life.
With booming home prices in Sydney now well over the million dollar mark for a run down one bedroom apartment, that makes real estate more expensive than real, and not the quality of the purchase. This couple of Rainbows are checking out this nesting hole and making their decision. Though the price may be right, the most important factor is: ‘Location, Location, Location !’ She scratches her head as he awaits her decision, at least if she says yes to this one, there is minimal renovation required and it has a nice northerly aspect which will protect from the harsh winter winds.
Listen as these tow groups of Lorikeets communicate to each other as they feed from different trees nearby each other,
The other resident seed eater is the Eastern Crimson Rosella. This guy was searching on a rock face for seed, as the competition in the park has become more so during the middle of Winter. These birds have a series of calls and are often confused with the untrained ear with the call of the Bell Miner.
As you are aware only resident all year round birds are present here in Winter which includes the other bird I love to see and hear, the Grey Butcherbird, my favourite songbird. Listen as you hear just a couple of his great repertoire and the laugh he makes. You will hear the Lorikeets in the background as they moved him on. He is also an eater of small birds and a threat to those nesting. He was too high in the tree for me to spot as I followed him along.
Down in the ponds this lone Dusky Moorhen was fishing for aquatic grasses, which is their primary food. All of the other resident waterbirds had left.
As I walked along our favourite birding track by the mangroves and native Casuarina trees, where we always find Brown Thornbills, busily scanning and constantly moving among the branches for insects. I heard a family group moving across the trees and recorded their constant location call, of which I just love the purring sounds they make.
By now you are probably wondering about my feature photo of the female Variegated Fairy-wren viewing the Red-bellied Black Snake sunning itself in the warm Winter sun, thankfully on the side of the tack and not on it. As I shared in a previous post, this snake does not hibernate like all the rest, and is commonly seen sunning itself on and by the tracks in Winter. Though it is poisonous it is not usually aggressive and will try to keep out of the way of humans. It is the better snake to have in your forest, as it drives away the more aggressive and more poisonous Eastern Brown Snake.
Firstly, I apologize for describing the female fairy-wren in last week’s post as a Superb. On further observation I realized, and should have picked up by the more intense colour of the tail and darker facial features that it was in fact a female Variegated Fairy-wren of which we have 5 subspecies in Australia, this one being the eastern coast race lamberti. Both Superb and Variegated Fairy-wrens share the same forests here in Sydney. The latter is more frequently found in the west and all over mainland Australia.
The clincher was that the non-breeding male was also present with her as they hopped around in and out of the low bushes, making my job to capture them almost impossible. I spent quite some time, as they teased me. Here is today’s pic of the same male taken during the spring breeding season for comparison of breeding and non breeding (eclipse) plumage changes. Notice he only has traces of blue on his flanks and maintains his blue tail and lacks the dark chestnut eye rings and lores markings. The feature of this bird, which my wife loves as one of her favourites, is just how bright this blue is in sunlight, as it outshines the other Fairy-wren species.
Here are more shots I managed to capture, where the flanking blue is more visible. Note just how small these birds are and how their size and speed make it easy for them to hide and move about undetected, but for their high pitched location calls, which they make much less than the Superb species.
As these birds are territorial and predictable, in that they circumnavigate the same area several times a a day, we can observe the same bird families throughout the year, which makes it great for showing birder visitors and friends these birds with a relative reliability. Here is the bird April last year shown in a previous post and seen in the same area, before developing its warmer winter plumage.
Enjoy your week, and stay warm and safe. We and all greater Sydney are currently in a 14 day lock-down as the delta variant runs its course through our city after a relatively virus free period. Poor implementation of hotel quarantine has been the major cause for outbreaks so far, being introduced from overseas residents and airline staff returning home. The good side for us is that the weather is cold, wet and bleak and not good for birding, and the birds are in their resting season or in migration.
Don’t forget to check out the rest of my website pages for more birding information. Also check out and purchase my unique books on Australian birds and their peculiar behavioral characteristics. They are excellent gifts for your child and grandchild as they will not only enjoy learning about our birds but also learn to make wise life choices as each birds teaches a valuable life lesson.
Take a look at this unusual phenomenon that caught my eye while I was birding the above post.
The effect of the light reflecting off the illuminated water on the shaded trees, whereby the rippling gives this strobe effect which at first was quite eerie until I worked out what was causing it.
There are many amazing and unusual occurrences in nature that we see in our lifetime, at many we marvel as to how they occur, and others using careful observation combined with the collected wisdom of the ages we learn and deduce an explanation. We do not have perfect knowledge, as our knowledge is constantly evolving and often being corrected as further facts and better ways of measuring are devised.
The Covid vaccines are a good example, as is the constantly mutating envelope virus that they address. The knowledge about this virus is evolving along with the virus as it mutates to survive. Many have had one or two vaccinations with no or very minimal side effects, a very small number have had adverse reactions, while others are afraid due to adverse media reporting to be vaccinated or to receive their second jab to complete their immunity.
From one whom in a previous lifetime, worked in immunology and immunohaematology, it is known that every year, from almost every kind of vaccination, a small percentage of people experience side effects, and in some very rare cases, serious life threatening, usually due to unique and unusual inherited and sometimes acquired chemical imbalances in their body chemistry. These poor outcomes are seldom or never reported by the media. If they did very few would get vaccinated and protected from serious life threatening infections. It is the current focus on the Covid virus and its global involvement that has attracted over-rated media interest and reporting, with the sensational attempt to squeeze a story.
All medical procedures and vaccinations have their statistically calculable risks of less than 5% which is the maximum predictable statistical aberration rate for most tests and procedures. The good thing is that in real life, where careful guidelines and stopmeasures are in place and being observed, there is very rarely any adverse reactions or aberration events and the statistical error is much much lower, as the medical profession have been trying to get across to the public, after the media have helped to promote fear from their sensational reporting.
If we allow fear to stop us moving forward in the case of the Covid vaccination, then it should also prevent us driving or even being a passenger in car, as statistically this is more dangerous, with possible serious complications caused by accidents, which may affect several people in one instance. We know it is unhealthy to have such fears, and there are many that receive counseling with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to help overcome these unhealthy fears. One thing the Covid has taught us all is that not one of us know and can plan what the next day or even hour will bring, For those who enjoy a solid faith platform and belief system, step out in faith, enjoy the ride, and believe and pray for a good outcome.
Even if you struggle to believe in God, from a non biased counseling point of view, you can only benefit from trusting in him both emotionally, mentally and physically, as faith is a much healthier place for us than fear, for this we were designed originally to live by faith and trust, on which our whole society functions and remains intact. Enjoying a solid truth based faith platform for one’s life is vital to a healthy long life, and this has been scientifically supported and verified.
“This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him.
For he will rescue you from every trap
and protect you from deadly disease.
He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
nor the arrow that flies in the day.
Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness…” – Psalm 91:2-6 (NLT)
<<< Back To Top of Page >>>
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.