Last weekend my wife and I travelled to Canberra, our nation’s capital, to visit family. While there we took a walk through the National Botanic Gardens, which is another place where my books are sold, in their bookstore. As it was late in the afternoon,, we visited the recently included Banksia Garden area with its own dedicated study buildings. banksia is one of Australia’s most unique and iconic plant groups, providing food for many different species of birds, especially to the many honeyeaters during the colder winter months when nectar is scarce, and the parrot family where their seed pods are favoured by the Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo. The species we see in our local national park is Banksia ericifolia, pictured below.

It was lovely to view the new garden structure and how it was thoughtfully designed to include many different species of Banksia, some of which require special conditions. These flower heads are rich in nectar when in full flower, yet they grow in the poorest of soils, often sandy acidic soils. During the winter months when nectar is scarce due to very few flowering plants, these and the Mountain Devil flowers provide food for the many honeyeaters. While we were there we watched these New Holland Honeyeaters feeding from them in the afternoon sun. Sadly, I had left my camera at home and had to use my phone to capture the following:

The New Holland Honeyeater gets its name as one of the first birds sighted and named after Australia’s Dutch name, as the early Dutch explorers found our land before the French and British. It is only one of over 74 species of honeyeater which Australia is famous for. These honeyeaters are found throughout Australia having several subspecies. They generally prefer the harsh scrubby sandstone coastlines, where the Banksia flourish.

Here is some phone movie footage of the bird feeding. It can feed upside down if it desires. This is possible because the honeyeaters possess a tubular tongue which they push in and out, allowing them to suck nectar from within the flower similar to a drinking straw.

On our return trip home the next day we took a detour to the popular tourist town of Bungendore where we know where to find often rare and not frequently seen waterbirds. As Lake George is full at present after heavy rains, our sighting areas did not give us our usual finds. Though we did see this pair of Hoary-headed Grebe from a distance in non-breeding plumage. The other ducks were too far off to get a good look.a

A single tiny Black-fronted Dotterel was dottering around the dam, as a pair of Teal curiously passed it by

Black-fronted Dotterel

We then drove in town to a farm dam we usually saw good birds and found this pair of Australian Shelduck resting and preening by the dam. The female has the white eye ring.

At one stage I was wondering about this four footed male Shelduck, until I realized that the male was perfectly shielding the female from our view.

Also by the dam where this pair of Pacific Black Duck resting. They made a lovely picture together against the blue sky. This family flock of Grey Teal also were enjoying the dam.

Though we only saw a few birds, we were delighted and blessed to be out and about on this beautiful Autumn day, as we travelled home.


Enjoy a wonderful week and the pleasure and excitement of birding, including the healthy benefits it brings. Check out my website for more info on birding and its benefits both physically and emotionally, from my Home Page or click below:

Don’t forget the Beautiful Bird Books are the ideal gift for all ages, and some are buying them as Mother’s Day gifts for those moms that love birds.


As we approach the colder months, while breeding and nesting are furthermost from the minds of most Australian birds, there are several bird species which will breed during winter. We are seeing more birds extending their breeding season as the warmer temperatures endure for longer. The Sulphur-crested Cockatoo is one such bird, whereby some of their species are already preparing fresh nesting holes by chipping out small pieces of wood in large eucalypt trees using its powerful beak and then kicking them out. We saw this one yesterday in our local national park.

This action brought to mind the need to remove all the obstacles in life to make room for a new life, for the above Cockie it is to make room for a new life for his family. Unforgiveness, bitterness and resentment are actions and attitudes that clog up human lives and prevent new beginnings from being possible. Not only are these attitudes proud and selfish, but self destructive, and one of the largest contributing factors toward emotional, mental and physical impairment to one’s health. Raising blood pressure, increasing stress, adrenal overload, heart conditions, digestive conditions, and a general lack of peace and joy. This ultimately, if not dealt with appropriately over time, leads to imploding anger causing depressive disorders and passive aggressive behaviours or exploding anger that builds and erupts into abuse and violence.

The payback culture of our selfish judgmental secular society does not encourage us to forgive when wronged, but Jesus showed us this is vital to getting our life back on track and maintaining our joy and peace and relationship with God. It has become such a large issue recently that Forgiveness Therapy has been introduced into counselling, based on the model which Jesus gave. How well we forgive will eventually impact how we are forgiven. Jesus while dieing unjustly on a Roman cross, forgave each of us all for everything we have ever done wrong and ever will do selfishly against others and God, encouraging us to do the same. When someone is held in unforgiveness we only hurt ourselves and those around us. It has been explained as ‘the victim drinking poison and then watching and hoping the perpetrator will die.’ When we forgive it gives us a fresh clean slate for a new life ahead, which will bring blessing to many, as does the Cockie when he joyfully raises his new family.

“and forgive us our sins, [in the same way] as we forgive those who sin against us.” – Luke 11:14

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” – Colossians 3:13 (NIV)

18 Comments »

    • Thanks Lisa, they are quite entertaining to watch at work on the flowers. The New Holland is in my book as ‘Be Diligent like the New Holland Honeyeater’ as they are so busy and apt at negotiating flowers from all positions and even in the strongest winds, it never deters them. We love Grebes also, especially our Australasian Grebe, they are so cute. We seldom see the Hoary-headed species.

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  1. Hello Ashley,
    The Canberra Gardens are a wonderful place for birds. You managed to find a good set indeed.

    The Shelduck are a lovely rich colour. All the locals have now departed from here, they only stay to moult in new feathers,
    Likewise many other nomads have moved on fro winter and its looking like many others that might come in are now else where. Perhaps the earlier rains has delayed their itinerary

    Good to hear you are over Covid and hope that there are no long term effects..

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    • Thanks David, we do enjoy the Canberra Gardens, and would have liked to have spent more time, but the weather only gave us a late afternoon window to visit. We often see something out of the ordinary there. As winter encroaches we have also found many birds have not returned due to the long wet period here. We tried walking our local national park track and it was so flooded and wet and destroyed by bike riders that we finally had to turn back. We were glad to see a few birds but nothing photograph-able. The Yellow-faced Honeyeaters did return, but they are a very hardy bunch and operate in large family groups. We saw the Golden Whistler, who is fairly quiet at present, which is to be expected. It is good to feel well again. Almost everyone I meet in Sydney has recently had Covid or someone in their family has had it, it is everywhere. Many are off work with it also. I still have some asthma aftermath but nothing serious and my wife is OK. Your comment came as you had not commented before. I have had that problem from time to time if it is not logged into WordPress. Enjoy your week my friend.

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  2. The Canberra Gardens always are a treat. Just to walk about. The birds make such a bonus.

    Our Shelduck are now all departed. Winter time is looking very bare for waders, ducks and many wetland birds.
    The rains earlier in the year must have altered the nomads travel plans. 🙂

    Glad to learn you are over Covid and hope there is now long term effects.

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  3. Great timing of the picture of the four legged shelduck! 😂 They are beautiful birds but I am extremely wary of them after being attacked by a marauding pair at Tasmania Zoo one time. They were quite vicious! Apparently it was 2 males who ganged up and attacked anyone who ventured past a certain point in the wildlife park. This was just after they had reopened after being closed for months due to covid. Certainly something I won’t forget in a hurry!

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    • Thanks Sue, that is a sadly memorable experience with the Shelducks Sue, these ones were some distance away and quite relaxed together resting in the warm autumn sun during a very cool morning. It is when the female is on the eggs that the male(s) become very aggressive like geese and form a protective zone around her, similar to Magpies and Lapwings. We never see them on the coast, they are mainly on inland lakes and dams. Our best photographic moments with these birds were on Rotnest Island where I got them both flying together. These birds seem always to be in pairs, and form strong bonds. Enjoy your week and stay warm. 🙂

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  4. I think your phone pics are wonderful! Thank you for opening another Aussie treasure. Beautiful ducks here!
    I really want another birding outing although its hard to commit to a scheduled organization one.
    Your articles here are very appreciated, I’ll study your points and plan a birding date with Bob – out to lunch too!
    I hope all is well with you and lovely wife. Thank you again brother for inspiring my morning here with God’s amazing handiwork! 😃

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    • Thanks Lisa Beth, I realized later I could have used the movie camera I keep in my car console but in the moment we were more interested in just getting a walk while the sun was out, but thankfully mobile phones have these functions. We do hope you both get the opportunity to get out to a birding date with a lunch, it will be very encouraging for you both. My wife loves the lunch part especially when we get fishnchips, though we also like taking our thermos and lunch and sitting on our camp chairs alone in the bush with the birds, so that they come to us. We do our own outings and share with people on the track, especially new birders, as we find groups noisy and never see much. We often take our non birding friends out with us as they are interested in how we find birds, and come back home amazed at what they have seen, and confess would not have seen without us. We have recovered from Covid after two weeks, some after affects, but nothing serious. Most people in Sydney have either had it or have it at present. Stay well dear sister, and thanks again for your encouraging comments. Have a wonderful week and birding date.

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  5. The New Holland Honeyeaters and the Shelducks have striking beautiful color patterns. Great post, Ashley, keep enjoying your trip, and don’t forget your camera again. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks HJ, it was unintended that I leave the camera, just one of the problems of getting older, I should have used my movie camera which I had in the car but forgot about it as we had family with us at the time. The Shelducks do look beautiful in full sun.

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  6. I love going to gardens like that. They always have so many plants that I have never heard of and I would love to have gardens like that at home. But I don’t have the green thumb to keep them going. 😊

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    • Thanks Sandra, we love the botanic gardens in each of our cities as they introduce us to new species of both plants and birds. Some of our best birding has been in gardens like these. I have a green thumb of sorts but not enough space to grow what I would like. 🙂

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