Last weekend my wife and I travelled south to the Jervis Bay area. On our way we stopped off at the very important wader site, Lake Wollumboola near Culburra Beach. Winter means no migratory waders present, just small flocks of Pelican, various Cormorants, Crested Tern and Caspian Tern. The waders will begin returning late next month. You may remember in a previous post seeing this lake flooding during wild seas.(Click on photos to enlarge them.)
Little Pied Cormorant
Little Pied Cormorant
This next frame tickled me a little as to what these two birds were discussing…
The highlight of our stop here was the tiny Red-capped Plover pair which breed here each year. This is one of our most common shore birds, but is not seen so much in our Sydney area. The male has the red cap and the female only slightly red tinted.
It was lovely to capture pictures of the two together, they will be breeding soon…
My wife captured this sand scene of various sized and shaped tracks by the lake.
These photos show an immensly angry Masked Lapwing, and you can see why it use to be called the Spur-winged Plover…
We drove further south to the Booderee National Park, which though in New South Wales is actually a territory of the ACT because of the naval base at Jervis Bay. Sooo I was quite put out having to pay $11 to go in, considering I had a NSW Parks Pass, but it was worth it, as this is a beautiful park. It is owned and maintained by the local indigenous community who lease it back to the Australian Government. The symbol for the park is the White-bellied Sea-Eagle which we saw while there. Booderee means “Bay of Plenty” or “Plenty of Fish” but it is also “Plenty of Birds”…
On the coast near the historical lighthouse ruins, as we looked across the bay to the new lighthouse a large majestic White-bellied Sea-Eagle flew and circuited in front of us. Soon after a one year old immature White-Bellied Sea Eagle came across from the opposite direction returning to its parent.
Lighthouse ruins, with a devastating history.
An additional highlight was the fly by of this Peregrine Falcon, seldom seen from above, as we were blessed to observe.
In addition to the extensive coastal brush habitat and great ocean views, where passing whales can be seen…
Extensive heathland, similar to Barren Grounds NP exisits here, being a second important habitat for both the Eastern Bristlebird and the Eastern Ground Parrot. Both endangered species. Of course we saw neither on our visit, only on a sign.
The facilities for picnicking and walking through the Booderee Botanic Gardens are excellent, and can be recommended as a really well kept and serviced park. I am in the process of including this as a new book sales site. We were warmly met at the Visitor Centre by Morgan and Sonya, wardens of the park. You have to be careful not to accidentally drive into the local indigenous community area and the naval base. The reason I called the title Birderee is that the place is teeming with small passerine birds, including honeyeaters such as the Yellow-faced, New Holland and the Eastern Spinebill.
Another great blessing was the frequent siting of the White-naped Honeyeater, which we do not see in our area.
The rainforest walk through the Botanic Gardens is very worthwhile. Satin Bowerbirds are numerous and making their uniquely spooky sounds, but were very elusive to photograph, more so than any place I have been. This was the only decent shot I could get, considering there were so many of them.
In this brief footage you will hear them calling and get a very brief view of the bird at the very end of the clip.
Other birds seen include this tiny Brown Thornbill and this unexpected lone Noisy Friarbird. Of course Currawongs, Magpies and Kookaburras were also present as always but not pictured here.
A great feature of the rainforest walk was the siting of this Bassian Thrush in good light. The great thing about this well camouflaged bird is that it stands perfectly still when it sees you, thinking it will blend into the surrounding environment and make it invisible, which on many occasionas it does. This is the reason many people never see this elusive rainforest bird. It feeds on insects and grubs in the leaf litter of the rainforest floor and seldom flies. It is territorial and is usually found in the same area. Look at the second photo and see how well it blends in with its surrounds, especially well in a dark rainforest.
Another rainforest bird that eluded us even after much waiting and watching was this Eastern Whipbird. I did manage to get this photo of his head.
Spring was certainly in bloom there with wattles, Gymea Lilies and Grevilea in full bloom, among many other native nectar flowers in the Botanic Gardens.
This Eastern Grey Kangaroo was quietly grazing in the picnic ground.
Eastern Grey Kangaroo
Other birds include the Red Wattlebird, Eastern Crimson Rosella and the Eastern Yellow Robin.
We highly recommend a visit to this well kept park with its several coastal habitats and many birds. I leave you with this thought, as you view the photo below. The extensive thick scrubby heathland, which looks quite uninteresting to the ordinary observer, yet underneath lives the beautiful and very rare and endangered Eastern Ground Parrot.
Many rare and precious species are lost each year because of ignorant land clearing. If you destroy the habitat you destroy the birds and animals that live there and depend on the ecosystem for their life. The state government is currently, with its new laws, going to give permission for the clearing of forest areas, once protected. Birdlife Australia is trying to get as many protests as possible to speak up for our birds and native wildlife, while we still have a chance to save it.
“Premier Berejiklian is fully aware her new land-clearing laws will deal a deadly blow to many of our precious endangered species. Scientists and ecologists have explained time and again the tragic consequences of clearing land in an already over-cleared landscape. More than 30,000 of you have called, emailed, rallied, marched, signed petitions and written detailed submissions against the drastic weakening of our nature protection laws. And yet the government is STILL pressing ahead, bowing to National Party pressure and ignoring 7000 submissions to allow these weak laws to come into effect before the details that underpin them are in place, and before they are understood by the people who’ll be using them.”
Another windy winters day in the Royal National Park, not expecting to see many birds, but I go knowing sometimes one can be surprised at what is found. The Eastern Crimson Rosella above is just caught catching the afternoon sunlight as it feeds. There are now several sub species of what are called Crimson Rosella, though some beg to be called such, but the eastern race elegans (pictured above) is the nominate and most admired for its brilliant colours. They have a variation of whistle like calls, one sounding almost like a Bell Miner (‘Bellbird’).
Here are some of the waterbirds on and by the quiet and still Hacking River. Click on photo to enlarge it.
Little Pied Cormorant
Australasian Grebe with breeding plumage
Australasian Grebe with breeding plumage
Australasian Grebe one with breeding plumage and one without
Australasian Grebe without breeding plumage
Male and Female Australian Wood Duck
Male and Female Australian Wood Duck
Chestnut Teal male in full colour
Walking along the track I could hear the frequent sounds of the Yellow-faced and Lewins Honeyeaters as well as the Eastern Spinebill.
Lewins Honeyeater feeding from flowering Grass Tree spikes
The main source of food for the honeyeaters is insects during winter months with nectar mainly coming from the Banksia erikiflora, also Gymea Lily, Mountain Devil and Grass Tree flower heads. Other early spring wild flowers including eucalypt blossom are starting to show, some I have featured in recent posts.
Mountain Devil in full flower
Grass Tree spikes flowering
Gymea Liliy flower heads
After the heavy and much needed rain a day ago some of the tree hollows had water in them, and it was interesting to watch these Yellow-faced Honeyeater and eastern Spinebill come in and out of this tree hole.
Being winter the sounds of the Golden Whistler male are not heard at all. This track, as I explained to a passing birder couple, is usually alive with many Golden Whistlers calling during spring and summer, when breeding. However, I did manage to see one male, confirming that they are there in the trees – but silent.
As I walked I heard the familiar sound of the White-throated Treecreeper making its way up a tree. It is often very difficult to actually see the bird ascending the tree even when you are right near the loud sound. The orange spot on the cheek means it is a female. I spend over half an hour tracing this bird from tree to tree, my neck was quite sore afterwards, but my effort paid off. The trouble is they tend to ascend the non sunlit side and often do not give good photos, so I am always waiting for that short moment where they cross into the sun.
It is not to be confused with the sound of the lewins Honeyeater or Eastern Spinebill. As you will hear the Treecreeper has a slower, regular more spaced call.
The main highlight of this walk was when I stopped and turned after hearing strange sound in a banksia tree, right near the rainforest, of all places. There standing on an old banksia head, looking right at me was this beautiful juvenile Brown Goshawk. Wow! what a surprise! and what a place to see it in?! It just sat there for ages while I filmed it. Now one of the most perplexing problems is to differentiate the juvenile Brown Goshawk from the almost identical but smaller Collared Sparrowhawk. After much deliberation I named it.
Brown Goshawk juvenile
Brown Goshawk juvenile
Brown Goshawk juvenile
Brown Goshawk juvenile
I was eventually blessed with it taking flight as it started to fear my presence. This gave me a bit more evidence for my identification.
As I walked and talked with God along the track, I was taken by the beauty of light shining into the rainforest greenery. It gave such a beautiful luminescence to it all, and reminded me of the verse “God is light and in him there is no darkness at all” and Jesus words “I have comeintothe world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” This reminded me of how much He illuminates my life, like these rainforest plants that spend most of their time in a dark environment.
To top my day off, as I sat and had my skim mocha and Anzac bickie outside in sun at the National Park cafe, a male ‘Black-backed’ Eastern Magpie in a split second, flew under my chin, took my large bickie, with great precision, left the serviette on the plate and proceeded to eat it on the lawn within view nearby. When I told Kate, in the cafe she was amazed but kindly replaced my bickie free of charge. It managed to eat half of it, and would not share it with its mate.
Check out the rest of my website and my book if you have not done so yet. My book sales are expanding to new frontiers as people discover it’s unique beauty and helpful attributes. More places where you can buy it will be added soon.
My wife and I decided to have a day out together in the Southern Highlands. However, the forecast was for gale force winds and a wind chill factor well below the temperature predicted. We knew this would reduce the bird numbers we would see, but we went anyway. We discovered a new birding place just out of Janberoo called Jerrara Dam Arboretum and Wetlands.
On the way we saw this fine specimen of a White-necked Heron. Who gave us some lovely shots. Click on photos to enlarge them.
White-necked Heron in flight
Sadly we missed photographing the Wonga Pigeons on the side of the road. We were impressed with the number of rainforest and woodland birds there. So many Grey Fantails and Brown Thornbills. But our first bird was the Grey Shrike-thrush, of which we saw several.
The dam was disappointing, and windblown, having mainly common pacific black ducks. Rainbow Lorikeets fed from the flowers of the several non native trees.
However our most interesting find was that of a Brown Gerygone, a bird that is always difficult to photograph due to their constant movement and fear of man, But I did get these photos.
This is what it sounds like.
Our next stop was the Minnamurra Rainforest Centre (a place where my book is sold in great number) gave us this male Superb Lyrebird which we always see just as we drive into the park. He was quite OK about us being there, but as you can see from the photo below, the strong gusts of wind were blowing his tail all over the place. But when the wind eased and the sun shone through the canopy this is what we saw.
Superb Lyrebird male
Superb Lyrebird male
Superb Lyrebird male
Superb Lyrebird male
We did not stay long due to the absence of birds, but drove on to Barren Grounds National Park, where we have this delusion that we will actually see the very rare, beautiful but most elusive Eastern Ground Parrot. Barren grounds was so windy and barren by name of birds. Not even the Bristlebird was there. The only birds we saw were the Fantail Cuckoo. from a distance, which we have seen here before…
The only other bird was another Eastern Yellow Robin which followed us along the track, and as you can see in the last photos was quite wind blown. No other bird was seen, only occasional wattle bird sounds.
So after our cuppa and bickie sheltered from the cold south-wester, we drove to Fitzroy Falls (Morton National Park) another place where my book is sold. But only heard the Lyrebird, but did not see it. We only saw Brown Thornbills and more Eastern Yellow Robins.
By now we were ready for lunch so we drove to Roberton for soup at the Old Cheese Factory. From there we made our way home. We did not see many birds but we had a lovely day out, birding in the wind, together. The might and power of the wind reminds me of God’s great power and majesty.
“Lord my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty.
The Lord wraps himself in light as with a garment; he stretches out the heavens like a tent and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters. He makes the clouds his chariot and rides on the wings of the wind.” – Psalm 104:1-3
Last Sunday afternoon my wife and I went for a birding walk with a non-birder friend. We had previously done walks with her, but on this occasion it happened naturally that we introduced Catherine for the first time to birding as an enjoyable afternoon recreation walking part of the way on Lady Carrington Drive in the Royal National Park. She was a little concerned having been told of the Red-bellied Black Snake we saw with another friend a couple of weeks ago on the same track.
Reflections on the Hacking River
To start we took her to the place where I saw the Azure Kingfisher (featured in my last two posts) but due to the many people in the nearby area the timid bird was not to be found, but we did delight in the beautiful reflection on the river. She noted this Australasian Grebe floating on the river. My wife lent her binoculars as she saw close up this cute little bird. We had seen this bird many times before but for her it was a lifer, as were a pair of Purple Swamphen which she interestedly asked the name of (not pictured). Click on photos to enlarge them.
Having had no success with the Azure Kingfisher we started our walk, mentioning at certain points where particular birds are usually found, but on this occasion, as you would have already guessed, there was hardly a bird to be found. But we did hear the call of several birds including the Yellow-faced Honeyeater, Lewins Honeyeater, Eastern Spinebill and White-throated Treecreeper. We mentioned that a highlight of this walk would be to see or hear a Superb Lyrebird. Just then we saw a large bird fly up into a tree near the track, but was well camouflaged under its canopy. At first we thought Bowerbird female, but we were not far wrong, when my wife identified a Green Catbird which is a member of the bowerbird family. It sat quietly in the tree while we checked it out. This was another lifer for our friend who was now becoming quite interested, for this was an uncommonly seen rainforest bird, normally quite timid and usually found in dense rainforest further down the track. The darkness of the forest canopy usually makes photography difficult, but God granted us the gift of this bird to tantalize our friend in the delights of birding.
The reality of Forest Gump’s ‘box of chocolates’ begins to become reality for our friend as birds never before seen are found by us. Catherine asks in amazement, while pointing into the thick tree canopy: “How do you find the bird in all that ?” She starts to ask the right questions of birder in the making. Our next lifer for her was this New Holland Honeyeater making a continuous chirping in a low lying bush.
As we walked further we could hear the sounds of a lyrebird in bush nearby the track, and our friend was blessed with her first sighting of a male Superb Lyrebird foraging, another gift, as you may not see this bird, you may only hear calling in the river valley below. We watched for some time as he foraged without being disturbed, as these males are quite timid normally. The first sighting of the bird through the bush is usually the beautiful tail, which is magnificent in the sunlight.
As we walked on we met a lovely mature couple sitting quietly on a rock by the road waiting for their lyrebird they call Bill, to appear. After answering a question for them, we left them, sitting and waiting for Bill to appear. One of the other features of our winter walk was the wildflowers that were out, the beautiful bright Boronia included, flowering quite early.
We could hear the Yellow-faced Honeyeater constantly, but being small and high in the canopy we found it difficult to photograph, until one sat high up in the sunlight long enough for my wife to show Catherine and me to photograph. This tiny honeyeater is very common here during winter months, but another lifer for Catherine. Of course the Currawong, Magpie and Kookaburra are common birds that we saw also but were not lifers for Catherine.
Little did we expect on our walk back to find another lifer for Catherine, in fact a bird we had never seen in the park here before, a Crested Shrike-tit, another bird that may be seen more in winter months. This tiny bright bird, is usually discovered by the sound of bark being dislodged from tree branches as it searches beneath it for insects and grubs. That was how we found this one, in fact Catherine noted her attention was drawn to the noise of the bark dislodging. We saw him catch a worm and eat it.
I always have trouble getting good clear pics of this bird because of the darkness of the canopy, as they are usually high up under the canopy, and always on the move. These have been considerable lightened up, as you will be able to tell from lack of clarity. Of the three races of this bird the nominate race frontatus is found in eastern Australian mainland, throughout NSW, Victoria and coastal Queensland. The other two are found in SW and northern Western Australia and NT. This bird was a female Crested Shrike-tit as it had an olive green bib, as males have a black bib under their chin.
My wife always get excited seeing this bird, as it is so cute and colourful, and we seldom see it. It was starting to get cold as the winter sun was low in the sky and time to walk back. On our way we were twice blessed with another appearance of the male Superb Lyrebird, and again he did not mind us watching him forage for a while, this time much closer. This ended when he climbed up a tree on the edge of the river and flew across the river to the other side where he lived. Sadly there was not enough clearing for me to film the flight, which are quite extraordinary to watch. Here is some movie footage I caught in reasonable light.
This bird seldom flies long or high, appearing somewhat difficult for it, as it is a non migratory, territorial rainforest ground dweller. This means it is predictably possible to find this bird in the same area, How do you know a lyrebird is in the vicinity? By the scratchings on the side of the track, where they have been looking for insects and worms in the leaf litter. When we see these we know they are about. See here the beauty of God’s beautiful craftsmanship in the tail of this bird.
Male Superb Lyrebird foraging
Male Superb Lyrebird foraging
Male Superb Lyrebird tail
So we made our way home, with us encouraging Catherine on the sightings of the many lifers she had encountered this afternoon. Birds she would probably have never seen or even known to look for, that were there all the time. I said she was ‘a birder in the making’ and joked that we would take her again because we saw such great birds with her. My final thought for this post came from a feature of this Angophora costata tree that Catherine noted and my wife photographed.
Catherine noted that a branch appeared to have separated and then grown towards and actually rejoined with the main trunk of the tree, quite peculiar and amazing to say the least. I thought it was just an optical illusion, but on close observation it truly is reconnected at the main trunk. Both branch and trunk have been strengthened by joining to one another, forming a union in two places. Relationships, especially close ones, strengthen our lives, giving loving support and encouragement. We value those we can trust through difficult times, who are not just fair weather friends. God is one such faithful friend who will never let you down.
“One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer thanabrother.” – Proverbs 18:24
“Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice.” – Proverbs 27:9
“If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot disown Himself.” – 2 Timothy 2:13
Check out the rest of my website and have a great week birding! There are now also more places where my book is sold.
Last weekend my wife and I had the delight of two of my four grandchildren staying with us during their school holidays, so we had a day at Taronga Zoo in Sydney. As I have shared on previous occasions our zoo is a leader in conservation of our endangered Regent Honeyeater, due to its breeding program, which successfully releases them back into the wild. This bird is an important contributor to the pollination of many Australian flowers. It was good that we could show them what one looked like, considering we have spent so much time looking for it without success in the wild. To hear them call to one another was another feature. Sadly the noise of children in the background spoiled my film clip. The skin around the eye is a pale pink flesh colour in the mature adult, this one is still maturing.
I also took them to see the resident Tawny Frogmouth couple, I featured on here the last two weeks, and lo and behold one of my grandsons spotted a third Tawny, which I had not noticed, sleeping in a tree fork nearby. A budding birder no doubt. You can see how difficult it is to spot them as they mimic the shape and colour of the surrounding tree.
As we walked through the park one of the boys spotted this beautiful Red-browed Finch, which are park residents, which I had only just said I had not seen much of recently. This little guy gave us a great reception.
These tiny birds, are essentially firetails, some referring to them as a Red-browed Firetail, since they meet the criteria of a finch with a bright red tail. They are found from the coast to the plains in the eastern states of Australia moving about in small to large flocks, foraging for small seed (such as grass) and insects. The juveniles lack the red brow.
I also took the boys to the Royal National Park, to the very same spot at the bend in the river, where I saw the Azure Kingfisher last week, from whence the photos I featured in last week’s post were taken. As I drove there it was getting late and I kept thinking, what if it does not show… but to our delight and God’s kindness it was right on queue. Another couple from eBird Australia had already sighted it. However it had eluded them. My grandson soon spotted it flying and landing on a reed. You can see how small yet bright they are.
Azure Kingfisher on reed
The boys tracked its movements from then on, their youthful eyes were a great advantage. I was delighted that they said seeing this bird was a major feature of their weekend with us. Interesting enough, this usually extremely timid bird sat and watched two men in a canoe come close. This gave me some of my best shots.
The kingfisher flew to the other side of the river onto a tree stump, revealing a more frontal aspect.
Finally, it flew off and I managed to snatch these departing shots. This was the only bird we saw, as by now the sun was starting to set and the cold evening winter air was settling into the valley.
So these were some of the features we showed our grandsons on the weekend. It is one of our legacies as grandparents to our grandchildren to connect them to precious aspects of our environment, and encourage conservation, especially of our endangered and threatened species. Another endangered specie, having suffered habitat depletion and death by humans is the Platypus, which we also were privileged to see at the zoo.
This monotreme is known to be very shy of humans and is a nocturnal hunter like most Australian animals, however, it did a few laps of the pond for us.
My thought for the week is that in a similar way that the Regent Honeyeater and Platypus are both rare and difficult to see or find in our normal environment, does not mean that we just forget about them and the difficulties they encounter sharing this planet with overwhelming numbers of selfish by nature humans. Conservation is the only way of preservation for species such as these, but for many it is too late.
“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” – Genesis 2:15
Man was not put on earth to exploit it but to take care of it, and if we want to leave something good for our grandchildren that is what we must continue to do.
These beautiful warm winter days, with clear blue skies, have been excellent for birding in the Sydney area, so off I went to my favorite walk in the Royal National Park which is only a 20 minute drive for me. The National Parks shop at Audley is another place where you can purchase my book. Because the birds have been low in number, I decided to quietly stalk the river bank in search of the Sacred and Azure Kingfisher. This is easy to do when you are alone. Click on photos to enlarge them.
To my great delight a beautiful Azure Kingfisher flew from across the river directly into a tree I was standing behind. These birds are very human shy, and this was the first time I had ever been this close to one. It was surprised to find me standing so close, so it flew into an even better sunlit position. It was so beautiful, with the sun enhancing it’s iridescence. This bird is found from top to bottom of eastern Australia, including the west coast of Tasmania. The more rufous bellied race are found at the top end of the mainland in far north Queensland and NT. They mainly stay by fresh water creeks and rivers hunting yabbies and very small fish. They are a beautiful flash of orange and blue when they fly past. They are very fast fliers.
The Azure Kingfisher did not like my attention so it flew across the river and rested on a rock. Finally, it dived into the river, beneath the water, caught a small fish and emerged all in a matter of a few seconds, and then landed back on the rock where it sat with fish in mouth for several minutes without moving. Kingfishers have binocular vision like eagles, and also have eyesight that corrects for light refraction in the water, allowing them to accurately target their prey. They do not have good eye movement within the socket and need to move their head more. Please forgive the poor images as the poor lighting and distance over river impair the image quality.
Cockatoo squadron meeting. with guards standing watch.
I was just starting my bush walk away from the river, and my attention was drawn to the raucous racket of over thirty Sulphur-crested Cockatoo. These birds are always noisy, all day long. But my attention was then drawn to this war room meeting of the flight commanders. They even had guards standing watch on each corner of the meeting room. I think I managed to work out what they were saying.
Soon after this there was more screeching and off most of them flew in a swarm of flapping wings. I don’t think their plan impressed the park rangers at the visitor centre enough to bring about what ever changes they mat have been considering.
As I walked I noticed the bush to relatively quite, the Golden Whistlers and many other birds go quiet during winter, and start calling again in Spring when they are courting and breeding. The birds are still there but you won’t see them as much because they are quietly moving around the tree canopy. The only honeyeaters I saw were the New Holland and the Yellow-faced, with an occasional glance at the Eastern Spinebill, which I have previously captured feeding from the native Banksia ericifolia flower heads.
I could hear the call of the Lewins Honeyeater but did not see it. This is winter birding at its best. The beautiful winter flowers bloomed along with early wattle.
This beautiful eclypsing Variegated Fairy-wren caught my attention and was a delightful addition to a seemingly birdless walk. Again I heard the Lyrebird calling in the valley, and saw its scratchings, where it had passed recently, but did not see it on this occasion.
Tawny Frogmouth (female)
Tawny Frogmouth (female)
Tawny Frogmouth (female)
Tawny Frogmouth (male)
Tawny Frogmouth (male)
So I left after a good long walk, refreshed and thankful for the beautiful gift of the Azure Kingfisher. Afterwards, I drove to Oatley Park Reserve to check on the Tawny Frogmouth pair that I posted recently, and on this occasion the female looked right at me for some time, and the light was not too bad, as you can see above. Females of the east coast race strigoides differ from male having rufous shoulders and malar markings. They can be quite rufous coloured at times, as . Then later went back to sleep. The male remained sleeping the whole time, mimicking a tree branch, as they do so well. He has no rufous but long dark streaking on neck and chest also being paler grey than female.Notice one of the frames above, how difficult it can be to spot them in the dark canopy of a eucalypt tree, which their plumage resembles so remarkably. It can be also difficult to determine the sex of these without good lighting, which leaves me with the thought of how important light is to revealing the truth and true nature of a creature or object. The Bible declares that “God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” – 1 John 1:5
“For everyone who does evil hates theLight, and does not cometotheLight for fear that his deeds will be exposed.
But he who practices the truth comes totheLight, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” – John 3:20,21
If we live in the light of God’s wisdom and Word we have nothing to fear or be embarrassed about both now and on the last day. Jesus is the Light of the World and came to earth to bring us back into the light of God’s truth to embrace Him as our true loving Heavenly Father.
Jesus spoke saying: “I am theLightoftheworld; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have theLightof life.” – John 8:12
Check out the rest of mywebsiteand alsomy entries for the Art Exhibition Show next month at the Oatley West Public School Community Festival 25th – 27th August. This is a major event in our area each year, and I am thankful that I can display some of my photography of Oatley Park birds and reptiles as well as sell my book. Don’t forget my book “What Birds Teach Us” can be bought here online at the best price, which may soon rise in price due to its popularity.Have a great week birding!
If you know of a private book shop or book seller who would stock my book, please get them to email me from my Birdbook page.
Last weekend my wife and I celebrated the birthday of a dear friend in the Blue Mountains, and of course, we checked out the birds while we were there on one of the coldest mornings so far seeing our first frost at 0°C. Above is Echo Point with cloud in the Jamison Valley giving a beautiful backdrop to the Three Sisters, named after the aborigine legend of the three sisters who were turned to stone. While we were there this beautiful little White-browed Scrubwren came in and out of bushes beside a very busy path that led to the lower lookout. He moved so fast I slowed him down a tad, but I only had my movie camera on me, so this is all I captured before the next passing person came.
At the party we had a very curious guest this lovely Grey Shrike-thrush. I have always found these birds friendly and curious, coming quite close without fear.
In fact he came onto the veranda and gate-crashed the party, looking for a hand out. They also have a lovely song. The rufous back indicates it is of the nominate race harmonica which is in our south eastern region of Australia. Click on photo to enlarge it.
One bird that is prolific during winter both here and in the mountains, is the Eastern Spinebill, a beautiful honeyeater which feeds on the nectar from the Banksia, Bottlebrush, Grevilea and Mountain Devil flowers of the bush. Its beak is especially designed to reach deep into the recesses of tubular flowers other honeyeaters find difficult to access.
The loud abrupt, almost choking sound of the Red Wattlebird could be heard throughout the bush.
However, our greatest finds were down in the Megalong Valley, where my wife wanted to have Devonshire Tea at the Megalong Valley Tearooms. As the many people present dines outside under the trees an interesting selection of birds appeared. A small flock of resident White-winged Chough were making a nuisance of themselves helping clear the tables, after the diners have left. Quite a few people thought they were unusual crows, but I soon put them right. I said to one frustrated waiter who was trying to shoo the birds off the table ” You don’t look very chuffed with the choughs?” he laughed and thanked me for the light humor. Notice the distinctive red eye. The white wings can only be seen in flight, or while preening underside of wing. These birds are mainly ground dwelling scavengers.
White-winged Chough preening
White-winged Chough showing white on wings in flight
On the grassy farm paddocks nearby several kinds of Thornbill fed on grass seed. The Striated and the Buff-rumped Thornbill were both seen and the occasional Yellow-rumped Thornbill. These tiny birds are always difficult to focus at ground level, and much easier on a branch.
However, the highlight for us was seen climbing up the sides of many trees in the rainforest nearby. We were amazed at just how many Treecreepers we saw. At first we saw the White-throated Treecreeper which we commonly see around Sydney, but to our delight and excitement we saw for the very first time several Red-browed Treecreeper, a lifer for us both. They look similar to the White-throated species, but have a distinctive red brow. The females also have a rufous upper chest, and the juveniles lack the red brow. These birds are found in south eastern Australian mainland but not extending out as far west as the more common White-throated. It was difficult getting clear shots as it climbed in the dark forest, and was climbing in very high eucalypt trees.
These were the only birds we managed to capture, that were in focus, these White-throated shots were not remarkable due to low light and distance. Treecreepers usually work below the tree canopy starting from the lower third of the tree and slowly climbing up the side of the trunk looking for insects and prying beneath loose bark. They have a characteristic call they usually, but not always, make as they climb the tree.
Though we did not see a multiplicity of birds we were pleased with our finds especially the gift of the Red-browed. My closing thoughts arise from these two very different images that were shot seconds apart in the morning. A half moon and a partially lit Thornbill. What do they both share in common?
One could easily mistaken the Thornbill as a leaf high up in a rainforest eucalypt, most would never even find it, let alone take a photo. The little ray of light identify it, revealing the true identity. The half moon could be considered representative of the true nature of this celestial body, but we know it is round and much larger, because the sun is only illuminating a portion of its entirety. Truth can be like that, and therefore we need to be careful with it, that we do not misrepresent it with our partial knowledge of it, and call our limited knowledge the whole of it. Some things are only revealed partially, which means it is not wise to fill the gaps with our own hypothesis and then pass it off as truth. Sadly many so called ‘experts’ of our day have done this and continue to do this, knowingly deluding the masses, including the governments of our time. In the end they believe their lie.
“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness,since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised.Amen.” – Romans 1:18-25
I have entered art works again in the Oatley West Art Show to be held 25th – 27th August 2017. Last year I sold six of my works and many books. If you are interested to see what I am entering this year click here. These will be featured online on the Community Festival website for purchase after the end of this month.
Have a wonderful week and keep warm.
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The warmth of the winter sun is so welcome, and the brisk freshness of the mountain air, beneath a deep blue cloudless sky make winter birding a pure delight. We begin our afternoon walk in the Royal National Park as Rainbow Lorikeets prepare to nest during the winter months in preparation for spring fledging. They now claim their tree holes in preparation, though some are already underway.
Sulfur Crested Cockatoo make a raucous commotion as the small flock are sent into alarm due to a passing raptor. Notice how their sulphur crests (cones) flare up when they are alarmed, this is meant to deter their aggressors. They will soon be pairing to nest also. Click on photos to enlarge them.
We brought a friend along for the walk and she was quite confident that it was fine to walk into the tall grass because it was winter and the snakes were already in hibernation. However, she was surprised when I told her that the Red-bellied Black Snake, a common venomous reptile, did not necessarily do so. She seemed quite brave till she jumped with fright as she saw right next to her a large Red-bellied Black Snake basking in the winter sun beside the track. After a photo shoot we continued on, as they were getting concerned that the snake was taking interest in them. This snake, though venomous is not usually aggressive, unlike the Brown and Tiger Snakes. The second photo show some of the underlying red belly.
Red-bellied Black Snake
Red-bellied Black Snake, showing red belly
As I have mentioned previously, winter birding can be disappointing due to inclement conditions and simply fewer birds, due regional and international migration. One of the gifts we were granted on this occasion was this beautiful male Rose Robin. We could not find a female in the vicinity, but he was simply a winter delight, as these birds and others move north to escape the cold winter of Victoria, which is why we do not always see them. I sometimes call winter Robin Time.
Of course our Eastern Yellow Robin stays with us throughout the year, and is often the only Robin we will see, as it is a curious bird, and will often come quite close to check you out, as this one did.
We did not see any Lyrebirds on this occasion as many people were noisily walking and bike riding along the track, but we could hear them calling in the valley. I almost ran into an Eastern Whipbird as it was about to come out onto the track, the bird and I both got a surprise.
This Brown Gerygone was a gift winter bird we do not always get to photograph as it stays hidden among the lower brush, and is another immigrant spending winter with us. This a small insectivorous bird similar to a Thornbill.
One bird we saw many of during our walk was the beautiful Eastern Spinebill. This honeyeater was everywhere extracting nectar from the Bottlebrush and Banksia flowers in the bush by the track. These flower heads along with Mountain Devil, are the sustaining source of nectar during the winter months till spring flowers start to arrive in August.
The Scarlet Honeyeater was also present high in the eucalypt canopy, but eluded me of photographic evidence, and it was joined by the Yellow-faced Honeyeater in great number also at this time.
The Australian King Parrot sat quietly in a tree and went unnoticed till I heard the male call. It is not often that I get to capture the elusive and shy female, who often flies off immediately she is spotted. The male has the bright red head and chest. The female flight shot was another gift. It is the time of year when the red birds increase and stand out against the green backdrop.
Male King Parrot
Female King Parrot
Male King Parrot
Female King Parrot
Male King Parrot
Female King Parrot in flight
The chattering staccato call of the Lewins Honeyeater is heard continuously as we walk. They are also in large numbers at this time, though rather than feeding on nectar, they feed on the ripe figs at Fig Flat off the great fig tree at the beginning of our walk. Here are some shots of one eating this ripe fig piece by piece. Australia has over 100 varieties of native fig which provide food for many of our native birds. These figs ripen at various times throughout the year providing a constant food source. Most of our rainforest pigeons, bowerbirds, parrots and catbirds as well as honeyeaters enjoy a ripe fig when they are available.
Some of the flowers we saw apart from the early wattle were the Spider Grevillea and the huge stems of the Gymea Lilly about to open.
In the opening of the rainforest this interesting pandanus like fan palm makes a beautiful sight.
We returned from our walk and sat by the river as the sun slipped behind the mountain, and the cold air drifted into the valley. We watched this pair of Australasian Grebe reflect off the still water. After our prayer and thanksgiving time together we were granted a reappearance of the Rose Robin, but he left before I could retrieve my camera, besides the light was fading quickly.
The faithful Laughing Kookaburra are always present in the same areas of the park, just watching all the human activity and waiting for a food opportunities. As the sun slipped behind the mountain we made our way home.
My thought for the week comes from this faithful pair of Tawny Frogmouth that spend each day sleeping in the same eucalypt tree, returning from their night food hunt. They sit snuggled together in a tree fork.
Tawny Frogmouth sleeping
However, on one occasion the male noticed my presence and started to take on a form of camouflage and quite instinctively made himself look like a part of the tree by raising his head. It is interesting that he thought he might disappear from my sight while he took on this camouflage, but he was still visible, while I watched, having already spotted him.
Had I not already known where to find this bird I probably would not have noticed it. In fact I have previously walked past this tree many times before and never noticed it. It was a friend who told me the exact location. This reminds me how important it is to be wise to and aware of the tricks of the devil (our enemy) in our lives. If we walk around unaware and not alert, we can be taken by surprise and find ourselves regretting bad decisions and bad attitudes and bad behaviour. We need to take Solomon’s wise words to heart: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” – 1 Peter 5:8
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” – Ephesians 6:10
Have a wonderful week and enjoy the birds. Check out my website andbook.
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Winter is a time where bird numbers are reduced due to migration, breeding and feeding changes for many of the medium to large birds. I took the chance to escape in my Ford Escape to the Southern Highlands NSW to see what was on offer, as several interesting sightings were luring me to do my usual round trip visit. I did not see any of the interesting birds reportedly seen at the lake, but I did see a pair of Black Swan, which are now seen all over Australia. I love the way they preen, making for an interesting view, as to where is the head? This pair of Australasian Grebe are also present. Click on photos to enlarge them.
Black Swan and Australasian Grebe
However, there were many Pink-eared Ducks present, making a fast gettaway when they saw me. I did try to sneak up on them but they were on the lookout. I am amazed at how many of this once hardly seen bird are now in our fresh water lakes around the Sydney area.
My next stop was Lake Alexandria in Mittagong, a beautiful man made lake on the edge of town with lovely picnic and play facilities. You can walk right around the lake and view the water bird from different perspectives. The main interesting bird here was the Hardhead, of which there were many pairs. The male has the white eye, and is sometimes called the White-eyed Duck, but the female lacks this feature.
It has always eluded me as to the name choice of this bird. which is found throughout Australia mainland and Tasmania. It is Australia’s only true fresh water deep diving duck, which can remain under water for several minutes feeding on marine creatures and water weeds. They are usually found in breeding pairs and small family units, scattered amid other water birds.
This Little Pied Cormorant was basking in the warm winter sun. In the highlands the temperature was about 10 degrees cooler than down near the coast, so every bit of sun is welcome.
The Australasian Grebe were all sleeping in the middle of the lake, also basking in the warm sun.
I have noticed a gradual increase of introduced duck and geese to our fresh water lakes, which I am not pleased about, as these could become competitive with our native water birds, as they have in other countries. In a similar way the Common (Indian) Myna passerine is currently a major problem here, rapidly multiplying and competing for food sources at an alarming rate. This introduced, adult male Mallard has an almost mature male with it. We saw many of these birds in the ponds and lakes of Britain.
Mallard adult and immature
My next stop was Fitzroy Falls, a good place to see birds, especially in the car park. I usually always see or hear lyrebirds along the track. On this occasion I only hear them, but did not get visual contact. It was certainly loudly entertaining as it mimicked many of the other birds living in its vicinity.
As I ate my turkey sandwich I was joined by a pair of Lewins Honeyeater who also wanted me to share it with them. In my early days of birding I use to think these were Yellow-spotted Honeyeater, which look extremely similar, until I found that they were only found along a small coastal region in far north Queensland, has a brown eye and head instead of the blue eye and grey head of the Lewins.
Of course, the most common honeyeater here as in most pleases around Sydney region is the Eastern Spinebill, always in search of flowering Banksia cones and Mountain Devil flowers. This was the only photo it would allow me to take. I saw several others later but they did not oblige.
Moving to my final stop, aware that the sun sets early in winter, I visited Barren Grounds National Park, always hoping for a look at that most elusive and endangered Eastern Ground Parrot, but alas it did not happen on this occasion. The most common winter birds seen are the tiny insectivorous Thornbills. This Brown Thornbill was seen foraging in the lower branches, you can see how small it is compared with the branches.
Thornbills are usually seen all year round and are territorial. They can offer a challenge at times to photographers as they are constantly on the move jumping from branch to branch in a rapid excited fashion, making their sweet high pitched sound as they go. My greatest gift for the day was to watch and photograph this rarely seen Striated Thornbill as amazingly it allowed me to observe it foraging on this exposed lower branch.
Thornbills, because of their small size and similar markings can be difficult to differentiate from a distance, and often require careful observation of the photo at home. The striations are seen on most Thornbills, but these come down from around the face to the chest. The eye colour is light not dark or red like the Brown. It is not bright yellow or buff underneath like the Yellow-rumped or Buff-rumped.
Other than this, birding on this day was somewhat disappointing, as birds were scarce. I did see this lone New Holland Honeyeater sitting above the heath.
I did not see the Eastern Bristlebird anywhere on this occasion, but I did have rare sighting of the Grey Whistler, which just appeared out of nowhere in a small tree some distance away at the edge of the heathland by the track. It is rare for me to see this bird.
I made my way home, thankful for the opportunity to escape to an area I love to visit. One of the features I love is Fitzroy Falls in the Morton National Park. These falls reminded me of God’s continual grace, love and provision being constantly and unceasingly poured out into my life without me even being aware. Every heart beat and every chemical reaction and process within us, is witness to his sustaining loving provision, which cries out, as does this waterfall “I love YOU!” I not only need to know the One who loves me so much, but more so, to realize that I am loved and cherished so much, that he has sent Jesus his son to bring me back to him at great cost to himself. Ponder on this as you watch this movie clip.
“So then, just as sin entered the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all people because all sinned—for before the law was given, sin was in the world, but there is no accounting for sin when there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam until Moses even over those who did not sin in the same way that Adam (who is a type of the coming one) transgressed. But the gracious gift is not like the transgression. For if the many died through the transgression of the one man, how much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one man Jesus Christ [multiply] to the many!” – Romans 5:12-15
Multiplied like a waterfall pouring out constantly to the whole world. God’s invitation to life abundant, a free gift that sets us free from a meaningless futile existence. All that is needed is to receive it thankfully. Have a wonderful week!
I occasionally mention places to look for rare birds, and one such find recently was around farm dams in small country towns. My wife and I were quite surprised with what we found, from a tip off by one of my birder friends. This farm attracted many species of birds to its paddocks and ponds, including this ‘Cockatoo Tree’ here. Sometimes the birds would be spooked and fly in a frenzy about before landing again.
Winter means less passerines around our way, and most of the migratory waders have left and will not be back till next spring, so fresh-water birds are one of your best chances, if you know where to find them.Eremaea Birdlines NSW gives good bird sighting to many such ponds and dams from time to time by keen birders. On the bank of the farm dam among the cattle was this small flock of Plumed Whistling-Duck, which is always an exciting find, as we seldom see them in our area, as we lack the fresh water lakes. Click on photos to enlarge them.
Plumed Whistling Duck
Plumed Whistling Duck
Plumed Whistling Duck
Plumed Whistling Duck
This fresh water duck is usually in small close knit flocks, which move around areas where the conditions are most favourable. They eat grasses, especially liking tropical grasses, and weeds and insects from the water. They are found throughout the eastern half of mainland Australia and far northern Australia. Males have larger plumes than the females, and both sexes incubate and care for the young.
One of the greatest delights was to watch them fly circuits over the farm and then land back in the same place. They did cause a chuckle as they put down their landing gear to land. They would always keep tight flock formation in an amazing aerial display, it is difficult to know who is leading the flock.
Plumed Whistling-Duck with landing gear down
It was also a delight to hear them whistle as they flew. We could not hear their whistle on the ground because of all the noise of the other birds. Listen carefully to the last segment of the movie clip below and you will hear their whistle.
Along with the noisy Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, the Galahs joined the throng in their dashing colour.
Walking among the cattle was this beautiful pair of Australian Shelduck, male and female. The male kept his eye on me most of the time, but was not too troubled by our presence.
Below shows which is which.
Australian Shelduck pair
A couple of kilometers away was another, much larger farm dam with many water birds. But the bird gave us the most excitement was the Freckled Duck a rare and endangered bird. Surprising there were several pairs sharing the ponds with many Pink-eared Duck and Australian Shoveler. Unfortunately these birds are shy and the photos are taken from quite a distance away.
It was lovely to watch these various species of waterbird, having similar feeding beaks, peacefully feeding and sunning themselves together as one community.
Frecked Duck with male Hardhead
The Pink-eared Duck lined the shoreline by the dozens, catching the warm winter sun as they slept and preened, or just watched the activity in the water. The males have the larger pink spot on their ears and the females much smaller. The juveniles have no spot or a very small one like female.
Pink-eared Duck with Frecked Duck
The Pink-eared Duck and the Australasian Shoveler both use their unusually shaped bills to sweep the water, filtering out small marine organisms which they thrive on. The bill lets the water pass through while capturing the organisms. The male Shoveler is the colourful one on the right and the female partner the grey motley one, looking similar to the female Musk Duck.
Australasian Shovelers shoveling
Pink-eared Duck sweeping with Shovelers
Australasian Shovelers shoveling
The Pink-eared Duck, when in pairs or small flock swimming, often use a team effort to extract food. The flock or one of the birds will swim, kicking its legs, and stirring up the water (soil and plants beneath them) while one or more will swim behind shoveling or sweeping the water.
To my surprise running around right in front of me, without drawing my attention for some time was this lovely little Black-fronted Dotterel. I loved the reflection shots I managed to get as he stood by the water.
The dottering of the Dotterel is always a delight to watch.
What a delightful find from just a couple of farm dams. These common House Sparrows simply watched on from a tree they fully occupied, as we left for our destination. Like Forrest Gump’s ‘box of chocolates’ you really don’t know what surprises you will find when out birding, which makes birding a very enjoyable and sometimes exciting experience.
To close this post I considered this Superb Fairy-wren eclipsing, morphing from breeding plumage to non-breeding as winter sets in. Soon he will look like his female partner, however his blue tail will remain blue and identify him as a male non-breeding. Sometimes we go through morphs and eclipse when we experience change in our lives due to difficult and unpleasant experiences. It is important that we ‘bounce back’ to the person we really are, as soon as possible and not allow ourselves to become ‘stuck’, which can lead a person suffering unresolved grief to develop the condition of Depression. In many cases Unforgiveness and Unresolved Anger due to Unfulfilled Expectations is behind the stalling. That is why it is wise to resolve your emotional issues as fast as possible so you can remain free.
“In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry” – Ephesians 4:26
“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” – Matthew 6:14
Have a great week, and have some exciting finds. Check out the rest of my website.