Well, we finally have had 4 consecutive clear sky days without rain, with the warm winter sunshine breaking through the cold crisp air, bringing record cold temperatures and now cool westerlies. A time when I remember that the Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo make their winter visit to the coast to find the many trees laden in pine cones and seed pods on the east coast and also to escape the cold of the mountains, where they breed during our summer months. I said to my wife”Let’s go to Cook Park, Botany Bay to our pine forest and we will check for Yellow-tails and then do a walk along the coast to a cafe and have a hot chocolate. We will make it a birding date !” As it turned out a warm but crisp sunny day it was perfect. Three species of Cockies love this park, this time of year. The Sulphur-crested, the Little Corella and the Yellow-tails.

As you can see it looks directly across Botany Bay to the CBD of Sydney. Who would think these Cockies would be so close. Most passers by are oblivious to their presence. It was like this, we turned up at Cook Park and proceeded to walk into the forest, listening and looking for sounds of the Yellow-tails calling to each other or the thump of falling pine cones. Their very unique call sends birders into an excited frenzy:

The call of the Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo

We walked about two thirds through and I said: ” Looks like we missed them, let’s go to the walking path and start our walk around the coast.” Just then out of the blue came a noisy flock of Little Corella, which flew directly into the part of the forest we had not entered. But funny enough they did not stay to feed but swept through it and left, but as they did we heard the stirring calls of the Yellow-tails coming from the within the forest.

We immediately said in unison “Thank you Lord ! you are so kind to us.” God had used the Corella to indicate that the Cockies were there. This species of Cockie can be very quiet when feeding, and being black, are much harder to see than the white Corella and Sulpur-cresteds, especially when high within a dark pine tree. So immediately we joyfully entered the end of the forest, but with caution, as large cones fell from the tree, which can cause much injury. One Sulphur-crested sat alone keeping warm. Compare how easy it is to see it compared with the yellow-tails. Hence, most of the following photos had to be enlightened for viewing.

The challenge for bird photographers is to catch the open tail in flight.

Most of the time in flight the tail is not visible and just their yellow ear patches and a slight yellow strip of their tail may sometimes be seen.

As you know, Cockies and most birds of the Parrot family pair for life and will often be found together or in family groups within the flock, with male and female, and if their is a juvenile it will be perched protected between the two parents. The male has the pink eye ring and the female doesn’t.

One of the features worth capturing is when the bird feeds perched on the very top of the tree in the sunlight. Birds of the Parrot family have the ability, unlike most birds, of being able to hold their food in their claw and lift their food to their mouth to feed. Most birds have to bend over and use their beaks to feed. The Cockie stands on one leg and feeds itself with its very agile claw.

Sometimes all you might see is a head or part thereof poking from the the top of the tree, but to see the bird in full light is a rare and beautiful gift.

After giving thanks for our special time with these birds we left them and thought to return before leaving. We proceeded to walk along the waters edge of Botany Bay and the Georges River. On the shoe we saw this adult and immature Silver Gull, which are commonly known to Aussies as seagulls.

After enjoying our cup of hot chocolate at the cafe on the shore of the river, where we gazed out to the water and watched the passing birds, we made our way back, and watched this Pied Oystercatcher fly past. These birds are becoming endangered in our state due to destruction of their breeding habitat on our beaches, where dogs, people and 4WDs disturb and destroy their young and nesting sites.

When we arrived back to check the Yellow-tails had left the forest, leaving it quiet. They may return the next day, or move to any of the hundreds of other pines and Banksia along the coast. We were grateful for the brief time we enjoyed with them.


Have a wonderful week birding, and don’t forget to invite your partner or friend on a birding date, to a lovely location. Enjoy the week of winter sun while it lasts, before the next cold and wet, in this extraordinary year. Next week I will share another amazing bird which we found to the day three years ago, another gift of God’s kindness to us on our next birding date. Check out my unique books on Aussie birds. These books are now available in 70 places throughout NSW and ACT, as well as in other states. Click here to see if there is a shop near you, and if their is not, ask your bookstore or visitor information centre to consider including them.

Click here to find out more about these books, which may be the most helpful gifts you give to your loved ones. Not only do they teach about our amazing birds but they also show what we can learn from them. If you are wondering as to my credentials, I am not just a retired medical scientist, but also a birder, author and speaker who studies bird behaviour, and human behaviour as a non practicing counselor and family therapist. I also have diplomas in various aspects of natural medicine, including homeopathy, but not currently practicing. My books are a legacy of love to my children’s and my grand children’s generation, to whom they are dedicated.

It is our me-ness that makes us each uniquely beautiful in this world. There is no one and there will never be anyone quite the same as any one of us. We are each a unique, extremely complex and wonderful product of Intelligent Design, having purpose, influence and significance. We each have the capacity for greatness and achievement, the ability to shape and change lives, and possibly even the world. What we do and say can and does make a difference for encouragement or discouragement, build up or destroy, give life and hope or wound and destroy. From each of our various states our brokenness and wounded-ness, the former can easily follow the latter. Even though we appear complete and confident as adults, we actually each continue to be works-in-progress. Consider, daily, before venturing forth into the world to live another day: What impact will I leave in the lives of the people I will meet, interact with or even those who just see or hear me in passing by: was it a smile or a frown conveyed, an encouraging or kind word of appreciation, or a grunt of disgust? We can choose to follow and copy the world’s selfish empty ‘its all about me‘ or dare to be different, and make a difference that will leave a lasting legacy in the lives of those whom we engage with each day. My daily prayer is: ‘Lord please let me be a blessing and encouragement in some way to each of person I meet today and so reflect the kindness and unconditional love you have shown to me in Jesus – and so make a positive difference in their lives.’

“Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
    bind them around your neck,
    write them on the tablet of your heart..”
– Proverbs 3:3 (NIV)

“Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.” – Proverbs 11:25

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” – 2 Corinthians 9:8



‘To introduce people to our unique Australian birds,

To learn from them how to live a healthy and happy life.’

© W. A. Hewson 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022.

10 Comments »

  1. So glad you caught those Yellow Tails in flight! I’m convinced that the Lord orders your steps and makes these connections. I pray too for God’s divine connections in my life!
    After sharing about my ‘mystery bird’ that called outside my window early morns, he left! Gone.
    I did study the calls of 40 birds of the NY and NYC area. His WHOOOOOP che-che-che was not there. Definitely an out of towner, I will keep his song in mind.
    Haven’t seen notable sightings in the park. Birds yes, but not notable!
    This has marked my heart though,

    “What impact will I leave in the lives of the people I will meet, interact with or even those who just see or hear me in passing by: was it a smile or a frown conveyed, an encouraging or kind word of appreciation, or a grunt of disgust?”

    I needed this challenge as my neighborhood and city downward spiral. I need to check myself- am I a “branch” that looks like the “Vine”?
    Thank you brother for beautiful sites for my eyes and the promoting needed for my spirit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Lisa Beth,
      Delighted you were blessed with my Lord’s sights. This mystery bird appears to be migratory, or just transiently such, as some birds hang around until they exhaust their local food source and then move on. However, should it return the same time each year it is definitely migratory. The other issue we have here in our country is that many species of bird can mimic the call of other species, which can make identification difficult at times. My wife and I are seeking spiritual revival in our personal lives and church life at present, so we are together seeking the Lord as we are both now retired and wanting to leave a lasting legacy of our Lord’s love. Have a wonderful week dear sister and may the Lord enrich you both with the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Looks like you not only had some fine birding, but some beaut weather to go with it.
    We,,, are still waiting. But did get out this morning.

    The Yellow-tailed Blacks are so interesting, They are often seen around our beach areas, and I suspect that it because of the old tree plantings, rather than the bird’s perchance for a day by the sea.

    What I always struggle with is to get a decent inflight that shows those rich tail markings. Try as we might.

    Hope the weather hold for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks David, we always get excited seeing the yellow tails. There call alone hearkens excitement in the birder. We were blessed to actually catch a few family groups in the trees, as they are very large flock, which splits at times, and this group of unusual pines is a great place for all the Cockie species. Getting that flight tail shot is a challenge. The best one is usually when they are about to land and spread their tail to help break their speed. Enjoy your week and stay warm my friend. We have been blessed with a cool but sunny week for a change which has been great.

      Like

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