Having returned home from our Kimberley adventure we thought it time to check out our local park Oatley Park Reserve and see how it is doing after the rains. Thankfully the flooded and boggy tracks were now passable. Our first encounter was a small flock of Royal Spoonbill (also known as Black-billed Spoonbill) foraging at low tide in Lime Kiln Bay near the walking bridge. These birds have pink markings of breeding on their foreheads and some are only just starting to gain their breeding plumage of a long feathery crest. Soon they will be gone to a secret place to nest. Meanwhile they are feeding up before their nesting season in October. They use a scythe action as they swing their bills through the water filtering small aquatic insects, shrimp, crabs and other tiny creatures through their bills which are lined with sensors along their edges.

Royal Spoonbills sweeping for food

Here are some stills of there activity and flight shots.

Here is a photo taken in a previous year of one in full breeding plumage:

Other waterbirds present were this pair of Chestnut Teal, the male is being led by the female. I also managed to snap a shot of some new Spring babies of another pair of Chestnut Teal.

One bird we always get excited to see at low tide on the mud flats is the Striated Heron (also known as the Mangrove Heron, because among the Mangroves is usually where you find them). This probably our most elusive bird to capture, and will always take off on immediate sighting of humans. These are taken from some distance away.

As we move through our first week of Spring we notice the bush is alive with color as our wildflowers bloom. The Pink Spider Grevillea is the most prevalent, and such a beautiful flower to photograph.

The Red Wattlebird has turned up again to taste the Spring flowers. It gets its name from the red/pink wattles on each cheek. It is a large aggressive honeyeater. No its name does not mean it feeds from the Wattle Bushes.

It is nesting season for many of the Parrot family including the Rainbow Lorikeet, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo and Eastern Crimson Rosella that inhabit this part, and nest in it each Spring. They often compete for nesting holes in the many available nesting holes used each year and shaped out by the previous year’s nesters. They mainly prefer nesting in the Angophora costata (Sydney Red Gum) tree and other species of eucalypts in the park. All of the birds below are nesting in Angophoras trees.

And all this activity is being keenly watched by the Laughing Kookaburra, our local species, and one of Australia’s most placid and yet cunning birds, often unmoved by both human and Noisy Miners mobbing attempts.

Laughing Kookaburra

Australia’s two species of Kookaburra are our largest members of the Kingfisher family, of which this is the largest. Below is a comparison with the Laughing (found in the south eastern states) and Blue-winged species (found in limited areas of the far northern states) . The smaller Blue-winged has a white eye and much more blue on its plumage than its cousin, which is mainly brown and has a dark eye.

Here is a compassion of their calls, they are very different:

Laughing Kookaburra territorial call
Blue-winged Kookaburra territorial call

Have a wonderful week and enjoy the changing season as migratory birds move from their northern winter home to their southern spring/summer home with us, though this is in the reverse for the northern birds.

My wife and I enjoyed time with some friends from the United States last week. They have my first book in both editions and were wondering what would be an authentic uniquely Australian gift to purchase to take back to family in the States. They found, as many of us have, that most of the so called Aussie souvenirs are made in China, and are not uniquely Australian. They remembered my book What Birds Teach Us and purchased 8 copies to take back with them as the book is written, photographed and published in Australia about Australia’s birds.

If you want a true Aussie gift go no further. Many overseas tourists and birders purchase my books for this reason. Please note: The price for books posted within Australia has been raised to $32 (posted to your address) due to postage increases. If you do not want to buy online click here to check out one of the 70 shops and visitor centres near you to purchase.

We were having lunch with one of my wife’s girlfriend’s visiting from up north and we noticed a family of Masked Lapwing guarding the open field as we sat in the outdoor area enjoying lunch at the Audley Cafe in The Royal National Park. To our delight we counted 4 juveniles running about, with both concerned parents keeping watch.

The parents were ready to attack anything that appeared to threaten their babies. We saw Cockatoo, Raven and Swamhen attacked and hurried away outside their 50 metre perimeter. Though we may readily protect our children from visible attack or dangers, it is the hidden dangers that they encounter when we are not around that we need to be aware of. These are the most concerning, as they can occur at any time in their lives, without our knowledge. This highlights the need to have a good trust relationship with your children. One that adequately models honest behaviour. It is our role and responsibility, not schools, to educate and warn our children from possible dangers. This is a very demanding skill today, as there are so many new dangers, in our technologically advanced age. The visual are the most prevalent, with the advent of the internet and social media, the psychological and emotional impact has given rise to many new dysfunctional behaviours requiring therapy. New addictions in younger age groups and increased phobias and obsessive behaviours. The stress for many young people has become overwhelming in many cases causing dramatic increases in youth suicides, heightened with the pandemic, as a result of increased neglect, +bullying and domestic violence.

This highlights the importance of teaching by example, modeling kind, respectful, loving behaviour. We need to warn our young early of the dangers and pitfalls of addictive behaviours and the kinds of people who can harm them and lead them astray. Encourage them to always stop to consider the outcomes of important decisions and not allow others to dare, coerce or rush them into making a wrong or undesirable decision. We need to teach them to trust their conscience and to use the Peace Principle, if they do not have peace or have any bad or uncertain feeling about doing anything – Not to do it ! They need to know that they feel good in themselves and have a good relationship with you to know they can always share with you and ask advice, even if they are told it is not cool to do so by their peers. This is the fruit of a loving, trusting, respectful relationships that a healthy family have with each other.

More about loving parenting and instructing children is found in my book ‘Flight of a Fledgling’ which is an ideal gift for you, your teen and those who have left home to make their way in the world. It not only teaches about Australia’s uniquely fascinating birds, but uses these findings from their lives to assist the reader and encourage them to make wise informed life choices for a happy and healthy life. This book uses sound counseling principles but does not mention God and is not a religious book. The quality of our life is determined by the quality of the choices we make. The Bible is full of wisdom for making good choices and good parenting:

“Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do.  “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.” – Ephesians 6:1-4 (NLT)

“Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” – Ephesians 4:2

“Be an example to all believers [including your children] in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.” – 1 Timothy 4:12

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To introduce people to our amazing Australian Birds

To learn from them better ways of living a healthy happy life

Adv. Dip. of Counselling and Family Therapy

© W. A. Hewson 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023


    • Thanks David,
      Though we thoroughly enjoyed the Kimberley, we took a week or so to get over the early mornings and the travel. It was good to walk in our local park again, and to be able to walk the trails that are still wet but now passable. Much nesting in progress . Our local Miners are continually chasing Ravens and other large birds away with brutal vengeance. We now await our migratory bird returns. Good to hear from you again my friend, enjoy your week. We are finally planning our Victorian road trip for November again, hoping we get to go this time.


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