Last week I shared the first part of our time in the Mid North Coast NSW area around Forster. On the last couple of days we drove further north to Port Macquarie where we stayed with my old school friend and his wife. We went right through school together and remained good friends. We stayed at their place which is not far from coastal rainforest, and as a result they had many species of birds visit their gardens, and those of their neighbours. Several Palm trees were fruiting in backyard of the house next door and were causing much interest to the birds, which were mostly fruit eaters. The sound of the Australasian Figbird could be heard constantly throughout the day.
These birds are mainly fruit eaters, and move around the over 100 species of ficus that grow in our country as they come into fruit. God’s wonderful provision for our many fruit eaters is that the figs, similar to the blossoming trees, are constantly providing, as each species fruits and blooms at different times of the year, and the birds follow the trees. Our southern race of Figbird has a much more intensely coloured eye ring in the male than that of the northern race.
Another fruit eating bird notorious for invading back yard fruit trees and finding ways to sneak in and out of tree covers is the Satin Bowerbird. My friend’s garden was frequently visited daily by these birds. The male is more elusive than the female, and will flee when noticed, hence it did not allow me time to get clear shots, but its beautiful features can be appreciated.
Bowerbirds are great mimics, and like the Lyrebird make many unique and different sounds which often incorporate those of other birds. You usually hear them but not see them. Here is an example:
The Collared Dove, a ferule resident from Asia is quite attractive, and found in large numbers here.
The highlight of our stay was to see close up two of the most elusive Cuckoo (a brood parasite), which migrate to Australia to breed each Spring, returning to countries north of Australia in Autumn. This bird often known as the Rain Bird, has one of the most annoying calls of any bird, often waking sleepers very early in the morning by its loud repetitive cries as the male and female locate each other, and their babies, which are being raised by other Aussie birds, such as Red Wattlebirds, Magpie-larks, Friarbirds and Figbirds. Both birds are fruit eaters with bright red eyes. The male is sometimes mistaken for the male Satin Bowerbird which is also dark, elusive and has a white beak, but the red eye distinguishes it, as the beautiful purple eye of the Bowerbird is quite definitive. We managed to capture footage of the male calling. You will notice him regurgitating the palm fruit and swallowing it, as it interferes with his call :
The female unlike other birds in the Aussie bird world is the attractive one of the pair, and looks quite splendid in the afternoon sun, a rare sight for this elusive bird. However these berries are like candy to these birds, as they are to many rainforest birds, including the Top-knot Pigeon in last weeks post.
Even the common birds were surprised to see this beautiful but strange bird out in the open, as was this Spotted Dove, which was quite curious for some time watching the female preen and feed. I love this photo…
The other brood parasite commonly seen and heard with its loud raucous call is the Channel-billed Cuckoo, which is always being chased away by other birds who are wise to its intentions. This is the world’s largest cuckoo and also migrates here in Spring to lay its eggs, which resemble those of the Pied Currawong, which is its prime host target, as it often leaves its nest unattended. We have often seen Pied Currawongs feeding Cuckoo offspring, as seen below.
We later went for a drive and came across this juvenile Masked Lapwing (previously known as the Spur-winged Plover) with both parents carefully guarding it as it explored the front yard of a home. Masked Lapwing are known for laying their eggs in open mowed grassed areas, parks and gold-courses, where the male guards the nest, verbally and physically attacking intruders. There call is a classic sound used in many Australian movies.
Their wing spurs become visible when they stand upright in attack mode.
Enjoy your week and stay safe, this Covid season is not over yet.
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In our local Oatley Park the other day my wife and I discovered the Tawny Frogmouth with its two nestlings. Although we had scanned the area previously we could not find them, and needed the help of a another to locate them, as they were not easily seen from the trail. We were told one of the babies fell from the branch and WIRES (Australian Wildlife Rescue) were called and after checking it out, hired a cherry picker and placed it back on the branch where baby was safe once again, giving a happy ending for a much loved resident of the park.
It was encouraging to know that someone cared enough to seek help to restore it to the family.
In another case this week a White-faced Heron was sighted with its foot tangled in fishing line. A lady brought to my attention this White-faced Heron while I was photographing waders. She had previously contacted WIRES and was concerned that they did not come to help, as they said if it could fly and walk it was OK. It was making progress but limping as the line remained on its foot. The bird was able to fend for itself regardless of the limp, and was learning to adapt to it, though it appeared a little under weight. To attempt to intervene may cause further stress and injury to the bird.
It is wise to discern between the times in life when we need to intervene to help the helpless while at other times allow one to bravely adapt to changes in one’s life. Too often people stress over situations which the sufferer needs to adjust to. Instead of encouraging them and constructively assisting in their adjustment to their new normal, they try to ‘save’ them and mollycoddle them which is counterproductive, and may even add insult to one who is struggling to adapt. I have found this particularly true for many disabled people, when they are excessively fussed over by those meaning well which may embarrass and even emotionally insult the one receiving the attention as they are well aware that the more independent they feel they are, the better they feel about themselves.
In Galatians 6:1- 5, Paul the apostle makes an interesting assessment which many struggle to understand and raises the question: What does it mean that one is to carry [bear] each others burdens, and yet carry [bear] their own load ? He includes that: each one must test [discern] their own actions. While we can sympathize with, assist and emotionally support one who is struggling for whatever reason in life, each individual is ultimately personally responsible for their outcome before God, and what they do with what they have and have been given in life, even in their new normal, whatever that may look like. This is the difference between one person in one part of the world smiling, thankful and happy to receive one small bowl of plain rice for the day, and another in another place, complaining and ungrateful that his steak is overcooked as part of his three large meals a day.