Continuing our amazing exploration of The Kimberley region in North Western Australia, my wife and I marveled at how many waterbird species and numbers of birds could be found in this hot arid region. The rivers, lakes and swamps form vital gathering, resting, watering and feeding places for so many waterbirds including ducks and waders, guaranteeing their survival until the next wet season in the Summer months. One well documented wetlands, known as Parry’s Lagoon Nature Reserve , Wyndham, near Kununurra WA. was a highlight of our tour. It was here that we saw our first large number of Brolga, our native Australian crane, of which we would see many more later on the lakes around the Broome Bird Observatory, but that is for a future post. Brolga are Australia’s largest waterbirds (waders) and are mostly found in far north NSW, WA, NT and Que.
These birds once inhabited the east coast in large flocks all the way down to Victoria, but were over hunted as a pest to farmers of European land holders in the Riverina districts of NSW where there survival is currently threatened. Breeding numbers are being reduced as their wetlands disappear, due to mans’s irrigation projects, threatening the Brolga’s food, and nesting sites. Brolga are omnivorous, eating many foods: wetland plant tubers, grains (including crops), insects, spiders, molluscs, frogs, mice, snakes. They have also been seen eating the eggs of other waterbirds, such as the Grebe. Brolga and their young also fall victim to increasing numbers of foxes and other introduced ferule pests.
Australia’s Indigenous inhabitants have long since revered the Brolga, mimicking and incorporating its movements into their ceremonial dances. The name Brolga comes from the aboriginal word burralga. The Brolga, which pair for life, are loved for their courting dance, when they gracefully jump and spread their large wings. Sometimes they will spread their wings and jump to defend themselves or drive away other Brolga. It is all in their call, intent and the dance. They are featured in well loved original Australian Christmas Carol you can hear called Carol of the Birds. The word Orana used in the song is an aboriginal word for ‘Welcome’. The Brolga is one of Australia’s largest flying birds – standing 1.3 metres tall with a wingspan of nearly 2.5 metres, and is endemic to Australia.
One has to be careful not to confuse this bird with the Sarus Crane which can also be present in far north Australia which is also found in India and South East Asia, and their features are look similar. As you have noticed in the video a very large flock of Royal Spoonbill were in the background as well as Magpie Goose, resting near the Brolga. Spoonbills use a scythe action to filter the water for tiny marine shrimp, crustaceans and insects, as well as small fish and some plants.
The Magpie Goose is a very unique bird in its own class, it is not a goose or duck, having only partly webbed feet. These are found in large flocks up here and breed in the wet season on the water in nests made of water reeds.
There were hundreds of ducks and various species on the water, but very far away from any good identification. Some were the common ducks we see down south, such as the Black Duck, Grey Teal, Hardhead as well as others I could not easily discern. The Wandering Whistling Duck pair were beautiful in the sunlight as they passed, through the Blue Lily pads..
One bird we were very excited to see was this Pied Heron which is found in the Kimberley and top end of Australia.
The Whiskered Tern made continuous flights over the water.
The northern sub species of the Masked Lapwing was present walking among the Brolga. Note the longer yellow facial wattle.
It was lovely watching the small flock of Glossy Ibis shining in the bright sunlight, as their plumage showed a kaleidoscope of color as they moved.
We are always delighted to see the Comb-crested Jacana walking on the waterlily pads, where it gets its nickname, the Jesus Bird as it appears to walk on water.
The Jacana is featured in my first book What Birds Teach Us because of the unique way it protects its young during flooding rains and rises above difficulty.
It was also a treat to see the Intermediate Egret, a bird we seldom see. We see the Great and Little Egret but seldom the Intermediate down our way. You will notice the lores marking does not go beyond the eye and the black legs and light yellow beak.
One bird that was seen energetically zitting about on the water was the Paperbark Flycatcher which is unique to the Kimberley region. I will show you more of this bird in a later post. This little guy looks to be an immature.
This is what it sounds like.
The Whistling Kite and Black Kite were constantly sweeping above the water as the birds were basically sitting ducks, which is why waterbirds make up a good part of their diet, being so easy to see.
Have a wonderful week birding and getting out and about. It is so good and healthy for us to walk in the fresh air and de-stress in the surroundings of Creation. Even if you find other forms of exercise difficult, walking among tall trees is proven to be therapeutic, especially if done regularly.
When we walk among the trees, feel the gentle breeze, see and hear the birds, the dappling of light through the leaves, the peaceful quiet of the mind that ponders the wonder of it all. I consider what need did it serve to invent a Mother Nature, whom is unpredictable and unknowable, to avoid acknowledging our amazing Creator Father God, who is full of grace, mercy, compassion and love for us and is very knowable because he is who he is, and crediting his works to another name does not alter the Truth. Why live in fear when we can know perfect peace, joy and love.
“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” – Isaiah 26:3 (NLT)
“Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.” – 1 John 4:18
My wife and I experience this peace, joy and love because of his gift to us of his son Jesus. But because of our selfishness, produced by our selfish nature which has passed on generation to generation : ‘everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.’ (Romans 3:23) God our Creator out of unfailing love for us, has made a way back to himself that not only deals with our past failure, but also makes a better way for us to change and have a wonderful life now and forever through trusting in his wonderful provision for us in Jesus: “Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone.” (Romans 5:18) God had Jesus change places with us so that we could have a new beginning: “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) God did this by punishing and removing our sin record through the substitutionary death of Jesus his perfect sinless Son, as a free gift on our behalf, knowing we could not fix the problem ourselves: “When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.” (Romans 5:6) “He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time.” (1 Timothy 2:6) but like all gifts the benefit is only received from the gift when the gift itself is received and unpacked and we avail ourselves of its benefit to us. This was all because the God who created each one of us as unique and wonderful beings, loved us so very much: ““For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
This all does a full circle when we ask ‘Why are people so subconsciously afraid to say God or attribute some other force or person to the maintenance and creation of this world ?
“There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him [Jesus]. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.” (John 3:18-21) *
- All quotes are from the New Living Translation (NLT) of the Holy Bible.