While we continue in lock-down and the 5 km radius rule, we recently realized it also included our favorite local park Oatley Park Reserve. On previous walks here in the past few weeks there was hardly anything worth reporting, however, on our walks last weekend we were surprised to find a hive of activity, as my post will uncover.
To start with, as I walked along the track where usually we would see many birds, it was very quiet, for many migrating birds had not returned this Spring, possibly due to the millions of birds lost in the fire storms down south last Summer which normally migrate here for the warmer weather. As I walked along I said to God, ‘it looks like we lost a lot, and now it looks as if we are going to have a sad Summer with very few birds.’ Just then I looked down to the leaf litter right beside the track, because I detected some movement out of the corner of my eye, and there to my surprise was a Painted Button-quail, a tiny bird I had never seen in this park all the years I have walked it. It did not flee, but just kept digging down, like a Logrunner, pecking up insects it uncovered, and eventually covering itself as if to camouflage itself, as it saw me standing and watching.
This bird is a resident of eastern and northern Australia and mainly a ground dweller, and rarely flies. They are endemic to the 122 Houtman Abrolhos islands, some 80 km west of Geraldton in WA. Its numbers are thought to be in decline in Australia due to predication from ferule cats and foxes. Its uniquely attractive plumage assists it in hiding. Look at the following photo and see if you can locate where it is hiding. I will show you the answer at the end of the post.
I managed to get some video footage of it turning about:
Walking on toward the Ponds I saw the resident Currawong, which is currently nesting in the thick bush nearby, where it nests each year, catching a feed for its young, a large skink, which had already had part of its tail removed
As we walked we noticed some of the Spring wildflowers blooming beautifully:
Everyone knows it is Spring again here when they start to hear the haunting ascending call of the Eastern Koel, a member of the Cuckoo family who migrates here from Asia to breed and wait while other birds raise its young:
Spring is nesting season for many birds in the park, though this year the absence of waterbirds breeding is notable, though passerines are in full swing, these include Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Rainbow Lorikeet, Noisy Miner, Butcherbird, Currawong. Australian Raven and the Fairy-wrens to name a few. Two Noisy Miner nests were sighted along the track not far from each other, One adult was on the nest and in the other, the adult was guarding and feeding its noisy baby of which it’s visible mouth is encircled:
If you listen carefully and look at the position in the nest circles above you will just see the chick calling for food:
It takes a lot of work for a male Cockatoo to bite out a hole for a nest with its powerful beak, as the female watches on (seen in previous posts of mine). Here is what it looks like at the foot of the tree:
The Kookaburra had already had his youngster and was watching his lone juvenile with fatherly concern when we approached.
Yes it was unusually quiet at the Ponds for this time of year with just these sightings, and the usual Pacific Black Duck and Chestnut Teal pair without young at this stage (not shown). Of concern, the recent emergence of blue green algae plumes visible on the Pond surface, which may be deterring the birds:
Walking back past where the Button-quail was seen, which was now gone, we noticed this Red Wattlebird hunting:
Not far away his cousin the Little Wattlebird, as it is known here (having no visible wattle), was hunting from a much higher position:
We could here this very noisy sound coming from further up the track, it was the sound of Currawongs loudly carolling , as about twenty Pied Currawongs were calling to each other as they fed on the abundance of native berries on the side of the track. Some refer to this gathering of Currawongs as a slaughter, similar to a murder of crows, as it often has to do with predation. On one occasion they attacked a Cockatoo making a racket as it protected its nest from this marauding pack.I managed to capture some shots as they kept moving from tree to tree calling. This bird has so many unique calls, which are quite melodic and beautiful, including whistles and whines and is often the first and last call heard of the day. Here is what it sounded like, some also call it a cacophony of Currawongs as they share their enjoyment, you will also hear in the background the Rainbow Lorikeets noisily enjoying the blossom on the tops of the trees:
We were so delighted and thankful to be back in the bush again enjoying the birds that were there, hoping more will soon return, as well as our waders which would have returned but are outside out 5 km zone. Oh, I almost forgot ! here is the photo I promised early where the Painted Button-quail was trying to hide itself. People with dogs continually walked past only a foot or two away unnoticed:
Enjoy your week birding ! Stay safe and keep fit, whatever that means for you so that you stay healthy and well.
Welcome to those visiting my blog and website for the first time. Have a look around the pages and check out my birding tips. This is a weekly blog which introduces the reader to our Australian birds in a simple enjoyable format. If you are just starting to enjoy this as a hobby in your retirement or transition there, check our my Birding for Beginners for more info. I also feature how birding can become a healthy and helpful means of curing the empty nest syndrome, in my book release Flight of a Fledgling, available here online.
Springtime means fresh nectar for our native Honeyeaters:
As I have shared on previous occasions, if you want to attract and feed Australian native birds the only ethical way is to plant native trees they feed from. As the saying goes: If you build it, they will come. During the last winter months this tree lay bare of blossom, as the new stems formed, and only a few birds would inspect the tree after having had a bath and a drink in the baths below the tree. This was to the advantage of our resident Crested Pigeon family who had accomplished two nestings deep inside this tree, within the period of 5 months raising 3 fledglings followed by 2 soon after. Simply quite amazing. We enjoy viewing the birds from our large sunroom windows, and believe this is how birds are meant to be enjoyed, and not confined to cages. Here a Rainbow Lorikeet is feeding, you will hear the Butcherbird calling in the background:
In a similar way to the Bottlebrush flowers, bright, red and full of nectar, which replenishes daily, we can be attractive to friends, family and strangers. We all shine differently to those that meet us. If we emit a joyful, positive, kind, respectful, caring vibe we will attract people to us in genuine friendship. However, if just our wealth, status, achievements or fame is our shining light, it may attract but in a more shallow way. The difference is that the former focuses more on the illuminating the life of the receiver, where as the latter more often about illuminating themselves. We all have a need to be needed, respected and acknowledged for who we are. When you give this gift to a person you give life’s nectar to them and your shine is attracting to them as a true friend. I am not suggesting flattery, but speaking positively into the lives of our friends, family and those we meet. I have known of instances in my lifetime where this has saved lives and helped restore them.
“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” – Ephesians 4:29 (NLT)
“So encourage each other and build each other up.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11
“Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” – Ephesians 4:32