Posted in: Australia, Australian Birds, Australian wildlife, Bird watching, Birding, Birds, Fauna, Holidays, Magpie Goose, National Parks, Nature, Royal Spoonbill, Southern Queensland, Striped Honeyeater, Uncategorized, water birds, wetlands, wildlife. Tagged: Blue-faced Honeyeater, Brown Honeyeater, Brown Thornbill, Gold Coast, Gold Coast Hinterland, Magpie Goose, Noisy Friarbird, Pied Butcherbird, Royal Spoonbill, Rufous Whistler, Sacred Kingfisher, Striped Honeyeater. 5 Comments
Continueing our showcase of the Lamington Mountains National Park at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, Queensland, a question arose in my mind as to the legitimacy of feeding wild birds, and more so the need to tie their legs for show purposes.
Birds of Prey shows are becoming popular tourist draw cards in various tourist locations throughout Australia. It is the only place where one can come up close to flying raptors. Sadly they have leather shackles on their legs to remind them they are not free birds.
However cruel it may seem, many of these birds are rescued birds which have been restored to health by human kindness and incorporated into a live show, which in turn raises money to support the ongoing conservation work. This beautiful Wedge-tailed Eagle is Australia’s largest raptor having a wingspan of around 2.3 meters. From these photos you would think this was a wild free bird, but it is a shackled bird in captivity being monitored with a homing device. It is the highlight of the show, where for a price the you can have your photo taken holding the bird.
This Barking Owl can actually be heard barking, which is a delightful opportunity for any birder, especially to have it fly over your head and land right next to your feet, so close I am not able to focus my lens on it.
As you can see above, if I remove the hanging leather straps, you are unable to discern the difference from a wild bird to this captive creature. This Barn Owl is another example.
Listen to the presenter share about this Black Kite, a common Australian raptor, and how they came to own it.
The most popular feature of the O’Reilly’s rainforest experience is to actually feed the wild birds by hand. Birds that are otherwise extremely rare and shy to humans in most other locations in Australia. The Australian King Parrot is an example, especially the female bird is known to be very shy of humans. There are signs near the outdoor eating area of the cafe saying Do Not feed the birds. Many wild life conversationalists also advise it is not good practice to feed wild birds as they become dependent and also the quality of food offered my impair their health.
O’Reilly’s however have done their research and encourage their clients to use appropriate seed and fruit which they provide for this purpose.
There is still nothing more beautiful than to observe the birds in the wild, free and unshackled. Us birders appreciate this more than anything. It always amaizes me when I mention to my city acquaintances that my wife and I are bird watchers (birders) and they ask what birds we keep in cages, or they tell me of the birds they have cooped up in cages at home, thinking this is something we would appreciate. No we do not like to see birds in cages, but there are times, when they are sick or injured, when the cage is the safest place for them until they fully recover.
As you can see in the following photos the difference between the two camps with the Eastern Crimson Rosella, also found in great number at O’Reillys.
As a known birder I have heard so many stories of people feeding wild birds that visit their homes, and how they even let them come inside the house on a regular basis. The usual outcome is that the birds mess up their homes, become quite demanding and hostile if they do not get what they regularly have been receiving at the hands of their human hosts. I have heard of complete timber verandas on houses being literally chewed to pieces by a flock of angry Sulfur-crested Cockatoos. My blogger friend from Queensland hosting MyWildAustralia
blog is visited daily by many birds including Rainbow Lorikeets. See how in this link to one of her posts that the birds find shelter out of the rain, however you can imagine the mess they may make also. Sue loves her many different wild life varieties that visit her back yard and has enjoyed caring for them, but has always valued their freedom. Here is the arm of aussiebirder feeding a female, or more likely an immature male Australian King Parrot, the female is a bird which always has eluded him in the wild of getting a good photo due to their timidity.
What ever our convictions, there are both pros and cons for feeding wild birds and keeping wild birds in captivity. You will remember my posts praising the Taronga Park Zoo in Sydney for their conservation project to breed the endangered Regent Honeyeater in captivity for release into the wild, due to their depleting numbers and erratic breeding and feeding problems.
What does this teach us about life. We can sometimes make a global judgement on a particular action people may undertake, but we need to understand that their are exceptions to every process, which instead of bringing harm or apparent selfish outcomes, could be for the benefit of the species concerned. Each situation has to be weighed up on its own merits.
Check out the new addition to my Home Page – see the nesting Tawny Frogmouths in the Royal National Park.
Christmas is just around the corner and what better gift could you give than a gift that encourages and keeps on giving wisdom and understanding for life through our beautiful Australian birds. All photos, some very rare, are aussiebirders work, as is the text, a legacy to his grandies. The book is very reasonably priced and sells for much more in shops and book stores throughout Australia. You can get yours online from my BirdBook page. Two people bought theirs on recommendation from a friend this week. Have a wonderful weekend!
“But it is the spirit in a person, the breath of the Almighty, that gives them understanding.” – Job 32:8
“For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” – Prov 2:6
“Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding.” – Prov 3:13
Continuing our journey into the mountain rainforest of the Lamington Mountains National Park (about 900 – 1000 meters above sea level) we focus on the smaller passerines which mostly inhabit the rainforest floor, searching under leaf litter or peeling bark from ancient trees in search of grubs and insects. Our first encounter was the beautiful Rufous Fantail, which is a common inhabitant, fanning its tail as it moves rapidly without hardly stopping, in search of insects.
Birders love to pursue this bird especially when they can catch a glimpse of it fanning its tail in the bright sunlight. With its rapid constant movement it is challenge for any photographer.
As one winds their way up the narrow mountain road before reaching the top, on the side of the mountain slope in the low lying bushes we saw our first lifer for this trip, the Red-backed Fairy-wren. This tiny bird was very shy and was difficult to photograph from a distance on the day as it had been raining, and because of its jet black facial features. Like the fantail it was constantly on the hunt for insects. We only saw the male of the species.
While searching for the Red-backed Fairy-wren we saw the beautiful tiny male Spotted Pardalote nearby.
The tiny Red-browed Finch was moving about looking for grass seed on the mowed lawns of the park grounds.
While the Superb Fairy-wren families, too many to number were hopping about the grounds on the mountain top, after the rain had cleared.
The rainforest Wonga Pigeon was also wandering around the grounds. This bird seldom flies but is most comfortable grazing off the floor of the rainforest.
On reaching the top and entering the rainforest the sounds and presence of the tiny active White-browed Scrubwren is noticeable, hopping about the rainforest floor among the leaf litter.
You can easily love these cute little birds as they are so bold and will sometimes come right up to you.
The White-throated’s rarer cousin, the Yellow-throated Scrubwren was found alongside and just as plenteous, with much the same noisy activity communicating with its relatives continually as it foraged for food.
Interestingly enough, both scrubwrens have a white brow, which makes me think the White-browed should be called the White-throated Scrubwren. Possibly the White-browed, being more widely common was discovered and named first by our early European birders.
As one begins walking through the rainforest the sound of the Golden Whistler is clearly discernible, especially considering it is Spring, and that is when the whistler sings his heart out as he seeks a mate. Both male and female were seen and heard many times throughout the forest.
The Lewins Honeyeater was also heard frequently with its chattering call as it moved about the under-story of the rainforest.
The nectar rich spring wildflowers attracted the Eastern Spinebill, another beautiful small honeyeater with a purpose designed bill for extracting nectar from deep inside the native flowers.
The highly elusive and constantly moving Brown Gerygone is heard calling from within the cover of the sub canopy, a real challenge to photograph at any time. Calling ‘Ger-ig-onee’.
Further into the forest we were surprised to find quietly sitting on a branch above our heads this beautiful Brown Cuckoo-dove. The great variety of rainforest pigeons and doves are well fed by the great variety of rainforest fruits, especially varieties of fig, which Australia has one of the largest number of species. Most medium sized rainforest passerines, are fruit eaters as well as insect eaters. The Figbird is not the only eater of figs.
A golden find was this beautiful Emerald Dove walking in a clearing, another fruit eating bird, but spends a lot of its time browsing at ground level.
But the one sound you constantly hear as you walk through the rainforest is that of the Eastern Whipbird calling. The male making the whip like cracking sound, and when the female responds immediately after she makes the ‘tsh tsh’ sound.
This bird mainly forages on the rainforest floor among leaf litter, and peels off bark on trees below the canopy with its strong beak for worms and insects. The whip call marks its territory to other whipbirds, and also keeps check of where the pair are located, as they move together, yet seperatley through the forest.
We were privileged to see both juvenile and immature whipbirds foraging in the rainforest. The immature were practicing their calls. You will hear the female calling in the clip below.
Another colourful little rainforest bird known to pry off the bark from trees with its powerful little beak is the Crested Shrike-tit. This bird is usually high up in the sub canopy of tall eucalypt and other rainforest trees. We usually discover it by the sound of falling bark and prying bark. They are difficult to get good photos because they are constantly moving and often becasue of their size difficult to see.
Lastly the very curious Grey Shrike-thrush is seen sometimes to follow you around. They have a lovely song that rings through the forest, and feel quite safe coming close to humans most of the time. This young one watched us from the fence at O’Reillys Rainforest Retreat.
These birds all dwell harmoniously. sharing the rainforest together. They each know how to live and flourish in their habitat, and what foods are best to eat and how to best forage for it. They each have bodies designed and beaks designed for specific food types, and they know instinctively how to find their food, build their nests and raise their young in exact;y the same way as generations before them. How wonderfully amazing is Intelligent Design and how much more wonderful and amazing is the Intelligent Designer.
“This is what the Lord says — your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb:
I am the Lord, the Maker of all things, who stretches out the heavens, who spreads out the earth by myself,” – Isaiah 44:24
My home page has a new look. I now feature local findings and interesting findings in Something Special which may be of interest. This week see the Tawny Frogmouth nest my wife and I found at the Royal National Park last week.
Have a wonderful week!
Following on with our rainforest series on birds found in Lamington Mountain National Park, we can not ignore the beautiful and amazing Bowerbird family. One can see three types of bowerbird here, and you will never see so many in one place at the same time as at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat. The stunning Regent Bowerbird is best appreciated here, and is the logo for O’Reilly’s, appearing also on their carpet and bedding among other places.
You really have to see this bird to appreciate its stunning colours, especially when it flies. The three kinds of Bowerbird found here are the Regent and Satin Bowerbird and the Green Catbird which is actually a member of the Bowerbird family having its own unique characteristics, similar but different from the other two, which I will not go into great detail in this post. The reason they called bowerbirds is because the males build a beautifully constructed bower to attract and woo the female(s) so he can mate. All are endemic to the east coast of mainland Australia, especially the mid to north coast rainforests
The bowers of the Satin Bowerbird is seen above, there are many around O’Reilly’s and the males spend most of their time mending and maintaining their bowers, fixing the grass in the bower, searching for blue objects, or stealing them from other bowers nearby. While he is out stealing, another may be stealing from him. After he mates with the females, it is they who build the nest and raise their young alone, as he tends his bower. Yes he stands each blade of dead grass and shapes them to form his bower, he is quite the artistisan, and one’s bower must be at its best if one wants to attract the best sorts.
These trinkets of blue attract the female, as does his beautiful iridescent blue plumage. His aim is to attract the female to walk into and stand in his bower. When she does this, he will sing and dance in front of her with joy because she has accepted his love offerings, and afterwards he will mate with her.
As you can see there is a large difference between the male and female plumage in both the Satin and Regent Bowerbirds, The immature resemble the females until they mature, similar to many bird species. Notice the beautiful violet-blue of the male eye and the white beak. The unlearned sometimes confuse it with the Eastern Koel which looks similar but is black, has a white beak also, but a bright red eye.
I captured this female Satin Bowerbird having a stand off with the more dominant male King Parrot.
Here is an idea of the call of the female Satin Bowerbird. You can usually hear their zitting sound and mimickry but often they are hidden high in the tree canopy, usually a native fig tree, where they mainly feed. Bowerbirds like most passerine rainforest birds are fruit eaters.
The Regent Bowerbird on the other hand is not so welcoming when it comes to showing off his bower, in fact he is so secretive about his bower that if he knows you have seen it, he will totally dismantle it within the hour and rebuild elsewhere. The alpha male or breeding male is depicted with a red patch on its head as you can see below, and he may attract several females at a time and breed with all of them. The female has a black patch on her head and again the female does the nesting and child care work, and likewise the juveniles look just like mum till they mature. The male builds a bower with a corridor of sticks and similar to the Satin Bowerbird spends much of his day guarding, maintaining and collecting items for his bower including forest fruits and plastic objects, He will rob from and destroy rival bowers nearby as well.
We also noticed this immature male starting to change plumage to his adult form with his head first.
One of the features at O’Reilly’s is to feed the Regents from your hand as Glen Davis our personal guide and well known nature documentary film maker demonstrated. We were very blessed to have him come all the way up the mountain on his birthday to take us out.
But the the photos that most photographers want are the Regent male flight shots. This bird has a very rapid flight, which makes it challenging to photograph, especially in rainforest or at close range, but this is my effort.
Lastly the mysterious elusive Green Catbird, who is very skillful in camouflage, but very curious and will spy on you and follow you without you ever knowing. It usually dwells concealed high in the canopy. It also is a fruit eater, and uses the fruits it collects and places on an alter it constructs in a place where the light shines onto the ground through a break in the canopy. Here he will wait and be ready to offer his fruits to a willing female. If she accepts his offer he will mate with her. His concept of a bower is much simpler.
The female Satin Bowerbird is sometimes mistaken for this bird, but the sound of the bird gives it away. Early settlers would be quite alarmed when they first came into the forests, thinking a baby or woman was in distress, and would send out search parties to find them, but of no avail. Soon they realised it was a bird, Listen to this we heard it day and night in the rainforest.
Stay tuned for the next chapter in our rainforest series. You may like to review my post last year on the Great Bowerbird seen in Broome WA, which collects white objects to attract its mate. It is toward the end of this post.
It takes a lot of trust for a wild bird to land on the human arm or feed from the human hand, trust which has been developed over time with certain individuals. The birds know who are their friends, by the kind and generous offerings of food made to them, without any intent to harm. This is how God is to us, kind and generous, loving us continually, but are we aware enough of his good intent, to trust him, and reap the peace and security that comes from trusting him with our life?
“Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.” – Joel 2:13
For this is the way 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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world should be saved through him. The one who believes in him is not condemned. – John 3:16,17
Check out the new addition to my Home Page called Something Special which highlights some local findings that my wife and I have found.
Have a wonderful week and enjoy the birds!
Where would you experience the exhilarating experience of hand feeding wild Eastern Yellow Robins, among many other birds of the Australian rainforest?
Where can you stay in luxury accommodation in the middle of a National Park high on a mountain top?
One of Australia’s most wonderful birding places we love to visit is Lamington Mountain National Park, in the mountainous hinterland of Southern Queensland and more precisely to stay for a long weekend package, with all meals and accommodation at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat. This week is Bird Week at O’Reilly’s and people have come from all over the world to enjoy a feast of birding talks and adventures.
We visited the week before Bird Week, because our experience with seeking birds in large groups of talking people has not been greatly successful. There is also a morning bird walk and a Birds of Prey show daily, which I will feature in future posts. Their logo is the male Regent Bowerbird which are in large numbers here, one of the best places to see this stunning bird.
The Eastern Yellow Robin is a small insectivorous rainforest bird both territorial and perennial, being therefore predictably found along trails on each occasion one visits. These curious birds will often come close to observe you and then follow or lead you along the track for some time, till they reach the limit of their territory. There are two races, the North Eastern race chrysorroa (golden rumped) found in the Lamington NP as well as the rainforests of the northern coast and ranges of eastern Australia. Click on photos to enlarge them.
and the South Eastern race australis (southern) found in the coastal and mountain rainforests of Victoria and NSW. Apart from the bright yellow rump of the Northern Robin, the chin variation distinguishes them. The northern has a grey chin and the southern white.
One of the highlights of our stay was my wife’s discovery of a Robin’s nest, with newborn babies inside. Their wings had not yet developed feathers, but looked more like the fins of a fish. Both parents were coming and going constantly to feed and do lookout duty to deter curious passers by. Thankfully the nest was well hidden from the untrained eye. The bright yellow rump is visible on the nesting parent.
This beautiful footage of the parent feeding the babies and also carrying away their white faeces from the nest was a great capture. Notice also that the male goes out and fetches the food, brings it back transfers it to the females mouth and she feeds them.
At the end of this second clip you will see our next exciting find nearby, juvenile Eastern Yellow Robins that are just starting to fledge, or at least make their first exit from the comfort of the nest. See how they huddle together. Again the feeding ritual by both parents continues.
So you know what this bird sounds like in the forest I have some footage of the South Eastern Robin, it can be confused at times with the call of the Treecreeper, though the space between calls is slightly longer.
This was all I have time to share this week. My book was received very well at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat Gift Shop where it is now sold is now sold. Funny enough, at breakfast, we were chatting with some birders from the USA, and one man wanted to purchase my book and went directly to the shop which was only just opening. This shop attendant did not know the book was for sale, and the man asked for it but she declined saying they did not have it. He replied, “I’ve got news for you, you do sell it.” The attendant was surprised to find its bright cover facing her from the shelf. Of course my new friends wanted me to sign it for them. You can purchase your signed copy here online for less than it is sold in the shops. Many birds in the book are found in the Lamington NP.
This weekend at Olympic Park at the Newington Armory section, the huge Australasian Bird Fair 2017 will be held for the second time in history. Check out this website for more info or do a search. Aussiebirder will be there in person selling his book at a Bird Fair Special price, talking with people and book signing as you would expect. There will be lots of interesting stalls, talks, information on conservation, photographic gear etc.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” – Matthew 6:25-34
Have a great weekend, and seeyatthebirdfair!
Walka Waterworks Reserve is a beautiful family picnic area set north of Maitland, Newcastle. Historically it is the original steam pumping station for the water supply to Newcastle from the Hunter River. We had a family picnic there hoping to see water birds, such as the Great Crested Grebe , you may remember we posted over a year ago, but the passerines were the feature of the day.
Scarlet Honeyeaters everywhere at eye level, not high in eucalypts as they normally are, but feeding from the many species of Grevilea flowering around the reserve, situated around large man-made lake. Notice in this footage how the male tweets after each nectar feed. There are males everywhere but no females.
The Australasian Figbird male was seen and heard calling in the same eucalyts the honeyeaters were combing.
Of course where ever you go the male Superb Fairy-wren is not far away, and its sounds can be heard in the tall grass and reeds nearby the track.
Hey, but we finally spotted a female Superb. How strange to only see males. Possibly the females are on the nest, as this is what is the norm for spring.
The lovely song of this juvenile Rufous Whistler caught our attention and drew us to a tree where we watched it move about alone for some time before it flew away. It is quite different from the mature bird and somewhat resembles the female Figbird.
But one of the features of our weekend was the discovery of a lifer, this Rufous Songlark in full song. He kept us busy for some time as he moved from tree to tree, very easy to follow by his call.
The humble Welcome Swallow even gave me some good shots as it rested on the roof of a shelter.
The White-browed Scrubwren is always easy to identify by his noisy angry calls.
The beautiful bright Yellow Thornbill always is a glowing delight, as it makes its way with its classic call through the tree looking for small insects.
Not far away, but on the lawn is the Yellow-rumped Thornbill. This one took a fancy to this bird feather, which I think it was considering incorporating in its nest, but had some trouble deciding. You can see how it gets its name.
But a feature of our day occurred just as we were leaving the reserve, when I heard the sound of a Babbler. The classic sound drew my attention up a tree where the unexpected find of one lone Grey-crowned Babbler was moving about, illuminated as the sun was low in the west.
Next week I will show you more birds from this amazing reserve. The conclusion is that if you plant nectar rich plants such as Grevilea and Bottle Brush you will attract the honeyeaters and other bird species.
“Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!” – Luke 12:24
Have a great week birding! Check out my website if you are new to my posts.
It has been a busy week working full time back in my scientist role in Immuno-Haematology, so my wife and I have not been out birding as much, which is unusual for us. Lord Howe Island is one of our favorite birding places so I thought to highlight some of the birds from there, and highly recommend you visit there one day.
One unique bird only found on this island is the Lord Howe Island Woodhen, which almost became extinct because European settlers found it so easy to kill for food, as it was flightless. Notice these birds are banded on their legs. Click on photos to enlarge them.
Unbanded birds, such as the one below, are young ones born in the last two years which have eluded the banding program, but will eventually be banded to mark their progress. The woodhen is classified in the rail family.
They are generally very quiet birds, making their own unique sound, foraging in the undergrowth for insects and small figs which have fallen to the ground.
Lord Howe Island is famous for its huge banyan trees (Ficus macrophylla columnaris) which send out roots from its branches which grow into trunks of the trees. A single tree may spread itself over acres of land. These provide fruit for many birds. It is related to our Moreton Bay fig, the largest Australian fig tree.
Another common bird seen foraging here is the Buff-banded Rail, here was a magic moment seeing this young rail learning to forage with its mother. This species was sighted by us in Sydney Park in my last post.
The rails are quite tame and can be seen all over the island grazing.
One of the feature birds that many come to the island to see are found in the Norfolk Pines along the coast of Lagoon Beach, the beautiful White Tern. This bird lays its egg on the branch of the pine tree, without a nest being constructed. Amazingly the eggs balances there until hatched, but is an open target for marauding Currawongs, which these birds continually are on the lookout for.
My wife had the delight of actually feeding a young White Tern chick from her hand, which was being cared for by an islander, as it had lost its parent. Here you can see the parents caring for their single chick, as well as this special photo I caught of a parent with three small fish in its beak to feed to it baby, carrying them in a similar way to the Puffins.
However, the most sought after bird that birders like myself and my wife, come here to see is aussiebirder’s logo (avatar) bird, the Red-tailed Tropicbird. As many of you know this is the bird that drew me into birding, away from nature photography, with its amazing flight gymnastics and the ability to fly backwards when courting its mate. They can be seen flying effortlessly and endlessly over the cliffs on the northern side of the island on Malabar hill, where you can here the chicks squeaking below.
Their red tail plumes assist their flight acrobatics, and their black feet contrast to their pure white feathers. This is one of the few places you will see these birds, Lady Elliot Island is another. They inhabit the rugged sea cliffs of the islands off the north east coast of NSW and Queensland.
The beautiful Emerald Dove is also common here.
As is the very vocal and cheerful Lord Howe Island race of the Golden Whistler (race contempta), recently reclassified and differentiated from pectoris found on NSW east coast. This bird can be heard all over the island during Spring and Summer.
Another bird only seen here is the Lord Howe Island White-Eye, which is a cousin to our Silvereye. Note how tiny they are compared to the leaves. One can be seen eating a ripe fig.
Lord Howe Island is blessed as a breeding ground for many seabirds and waders, and this is another plus for visiting this beautiful island. One such bird which breeds on the island is the Masked Booby. Here on Mutton Bird Point they have their many nests. If you look carefully you may see one or two of their young chicks.
The Black Noddy and Common (Brown) Noddy, have a large nesting area on the north side of the island in the pine trees. They become quite agitated if you get too close. We had a guided tour by one of the islands most celebrated ornithologists Ian Hutton. Similar to the White Tern, they must guard their eggs and young from marauding Currawong and raptors, such as Masked Owls which are now thriving there.
One of my favorite birds which we saw nesting there on the beach near the airstrip was the Sooty Tern. I love the way this bird hovers close by out of curiosity. here are some of the parents witheir spotted juveniles on the beach among the blue grass.
You will see many signs around the island similar to these. Though there are not many cars and trucks. Most tourists use bicycles or walk.
Yes Lord Howe Island is a major nesting area for several species of Shearwater or Muttonbirds as some call them, they say they taste like mutton. The Flesh-footed Shearwater is the most common, and can be seen landing at dusk and waddling into its underground nests. If you are in their nesting area say near Ned’s Beach you need to be careful they do not land on you at night.
This Sacred Kingfisher is seen near the airstrip.
Many species of wader and shorebirds can be seen here two of which we saw many were the Ruddy Turnstone, Pacific Golden Plover and the Bar-tailed Godwit.
Lastly, this fungi is a classic inhabitant of the moist Banyan forests of Lord Howe Island . Fungi spores thrive with moisture and lack of direct sunlight. It was thought that these fungal spores were spread by gusts of wind, but more recent research shows that the mushrooms and fungi actually produce their own wind source to disperse their spores and reproduce elsewhere. How amazing is that!
“To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his.” – Job 12:13
Enjoy your week ahead!
Check out my page on Info Tips for birding in Australia, it also has links to useful resources and links.
If you think you need some spiritual encouragement for a more peaceful and enjoyable life, check out my Birder Sanctuary page.
If you are looking for help in improving life skills and want simple answers for counselling yourself in making good life decisions, or want to encourage your child to do the same, check out my book “What Birds Teach Us” . It is selling well in many book and gift shops because it is so unique, using our birds to teach important life skills in a non confronting manner. You will love the photos and what you will learn. Purchase your copy here online securely through PayPal, at a much cheaper rate as many have done already.
If you are going through a tough time in life at present and suffering from it, check out my Suffering page which was recently dedicated to a blogging birder friend in Florida.
Sydney is an amazing city for bird life. Not only is it surrounded by several national parks it has several wetland lakes and pond areas right in its heart. One being the Sydney Park Wetlands which was a jointly funded project of Sydney City Council and the Federal Government to convert a large area of land which once hosted a huge brickworks, of which only remains the historical relic of the original chimney stacks and brick kilns.
The large acreage of the clay extraction area, later becoming a rubbish tip. It is amazing to see the beautiful transformation into large grassed recreational areas, small forests of trees, flowing water features, water controlled wetland and reeded areas, gardens, bridges and walking tracks. This unique project to recycle rainwater, clean it and use it in the man made ponds and creek structures from where it is released back into the environment is an experiment which may be expanded in the future to even more sustainable projects on a larger scale.
Many water birds and waders have made Sydney Park their home, and breeding areas are fenced off for their protection, as many hundreds of people frequent this place sharing it as they walk their dogs and introduce their children to many bird species. Wahen my wife and I recently visited the park our first bird encountered was this beautiful Olive -backed Oriole, recently returned from migration, giving me unusual free photographic access as he watched.
On the large northern lake several species of waterbirds swam or strutted the waters edge.
Of course there were many Eurasian Coot, Pacific Black Duck , some Chestnut Teal, Purple Swamphen and Dusky Moorhen which are not pictured here. Breading pairs of Australasian Grebe were present with full breeding plumage.
Flitting and swirving about over the water of course was the usual Welcome Swallows as they pluck insects from the air on the fly. However, I caught them resting on their flight break.
However, the greatest attraction drawer was the single swan gosling of the two proud Australian Black Swan parents, carefully and lovingly guarded it from the other sometimes aggressive waterbirds such as the Eurasian Coot, which has become like the Noisy Miner of our lakes. Notice how the parents surround the baby near the coots. There normally have a clutch of about 5 to 10 chicks, so maybe they have lost some already from predators etc. This little guy will experience several plumage changes as it matures before it finally becomes adult black, which makes it easy to determine the approximate age of the young swan.
Other features of the park were this tortoise sunning itself and the eucalypt flowers of spring. This Brown Wanderer butterfly was an additional capture.
Our greatest find here was the result of a search for a very elusive and rarely seen wetland shore bird which was sited here recently Latham’s Snipe, which would have been a lifer for me. However, as I kept looking into the reeds and grassed wetlands I finally did see a bird dart undercover, so my wife and I patiently waited for about 20 minutes and we finally saw a bird similar to Latham’s Snipe but more colourful, a Buff-banded Rail. It was a challenge to track its movement among the grasses and reeds, but I did get some reasonable shots.
So there it is for now, as we await the return in the coming weeks of our migratory waders from the northern hemisphere. We are also seeing reports of the return of the passerine migrants, including the cuckoos who will be breeding here soon. This week our hearts and prayers go out to our dear suffering blogger friends in Florida, that the Lord will have spared you from much of the damage and danger of the recent hurricane.
“You, Lord, are forgiving and good,
abounding in love to all who call to you.
Hear my prayer, Lord;
listen to my cry for mercy.
When I am in distress, I call to you,
because you answer me.” – Psalm 86:5-7
Have a great week and enjoy the birds!
Last Sunday afternoon on the third day of Spring my wife and I had a lovely walk into the Royal National Park, Audley to see and hear the sounds of Spring. Spring wildflowers had bloomed earlier than usual, and many were even finishing flowering. The real sound of Spring for me in an Australian forest, in particular the Royal NP, is the call of the male Golden Whistler, seeking out a female to court and mate with. Click photo to enlarge it.
All winter we would see both male and female but rarely hear a sound from them. But what a delight to hear several males calling along the track as they did last summer. Here is a sample of what I heard, and what is the call seeking the female. When I resounded its call back to the bird it came close to check it out to give me these pictures. We heard at least three singing their hearts out along the track, each in its own territory.
Other signs of Spring were the interesting wild flowers as well as the Cabbage Tree Palm flowers. Cabbage Tree Palms are a feature of the coastal rainforests.
As we sat in the a clearing in the rainforest we were blessed by the appearance of a single Top-knot Pigeon, a most unusual looking bird, on lookout at the top of a tall eucalypt. Suddenly he flew off to join a flock of about thirty others silently flying off deeper into the forest in search of native fruits.
The sound and appearance of the Yellow-faced Honeyeater, our most vocal Winter bird was still heard calling, but not as much, and now not so many birds.
My wife sighted this White-throated Treecreeper climbing a tree. The orange spot on its cheek identifies it as a female. It may be the same bird I saw a few weeks ago. These birds make a classic repetitive call as they ascend a tree. They can hang upside down without any difficulty as they pry under the bark for insects and worms.
We neither saw nor heard any Lyrebirds on our walk as many people had been walking the track during the day, but we did see the now resident and recently breeding Crested Shrike-tit, which I recently also featured from the same area. This bird comes packed with a very strong beak for a small bird. It is often difficult to see high in the eucalypts, but easily gives away its position by the sound of falling bark and foraging which is usually quite audible. It was difficult due to the height of the bird to get ideal shots.
One photo which I did not realise I had captured till at home was this very juvenile Crested Shrike-tit having a moment with its parent. It was a one off gem of a shot, as the juveniles are seldom photographed, as much as the immatures. The juveniles have no black or white markings but are chicken yellow.
We did not see much else, but this female Superb Fairy-wren posed for me, so I could not resist a few portrates.
At this time our prayers and thoughts are with our dear blogging friends in Florida as they prepare for the wild fury a hurricane. We hope they are able to evacuate safely, and that their damage is very minimal. My closing thought comes from this angophora branch, how amazing that it grows with this bend in it. We might ask why or how?
Like many things in life we ask why or how but there may be no answers known. Men and women try to postulate answers, out of the pride of the heart many would be scientists postulate that ‘science’ knows all, but not all that is called ‘science’ is science’ as the definition of science is the observation and study of our universe. It deals with facts which can be observed and tested and then attested to be true, not philosophical postulations that proud men who call themselves scientists make to convince the unsuspecting trusting common person believe their philosophical ideas are scientific fact. Many things remain unanswered and unexplained, and may remain so forever, simply because there was no one there at the time in history to observe or record their experiences. Many scientists have turned to God in the last 40 years, simply from the conviction their own studies have brought, of the Intelligent Design and the very evident Created Order which any intelligent being can not ignore. Check out my school teaching video for more on this issue, if you have not done so yet.
“ 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 fools…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 1:21,22,25
Have a great week Birding!
Last weekend I spent my time entirely showcasing my book at the local Art Show, so I had no time out birding. You may be surprised to find many rare and interesting bird species in your local zoo as I have found. This now endangered Regent Honeyeater is actually bred to be released by Taronga Park Zoo, Sydney to help repopulate this endangered specie. I feature some unusual birds that you may see there. Click on photos to enlarge them.
Another bird showing brilliant colour in the sunshine is the Dollarbird which is a winter migrant which will return again to Sydney within the next few months. This one stays here captured for the winter. Its beautiful colours are not usually appreciated when it is perched high in a tree.
The bird show at the zoo gives beautiful close ups of several beautiful birds including raptors such as our largest eagle The Wedge-tailed Eagle.
The Red-tailed Black Cockatoo is another bird which is not seen in southern NSW but puts on a lovely show at the zoo, we see the Glossy Black here with its massive beak which also has a red tail, but the red-tailed by name is further north in Queensland.
Some birds are difficult to find in the wild such as Little or Fairy Penguins, which are currently being decimated in population in the seas of southern Australia by the increasing numbers of New Zealand Fur Seals. There are still small populations along the east coast.
The most common bird seen at the zoo is actually not in cages but flies free in large numbers swooping on tables for scraps of food, and this is the Common Myna we call the Indian Myna, a myna bird which has become a major problem, as an introduced pest.
I usually go directly to the Australian bird section to check out the Regent Honeyeaters I featured previously, and the Rainforest section where I see the beautiful Regent Bowerbird alpha male.
I usually hear and see the male Superb Lyrebird but I only saw a young female on this occasion.
There are many different parrot species and this pair of Scaly-breasted Lorakeets are a good example.
These Chestnut-breasted Mannikins are a beautiful feature of the aviary.
This pair of Wandering Whistling Duck are another not so frequently seen birds.
Certainly the Green Pigmy-Goose is not seen in our southern states but can be viewed at the zoo, and whate a beautiful bird it is.
Australia is blessed with many varieties of rainforest pigeons as there is much native fruit from many varieties of fig and other fruit baring tree species. Two that look similar and are seldom seen other than in a rainforest are the Rose Crowned Fruit-Dove and the Superb Fruit-Dove, which normally keep well away from humans.
The Top-knot Pigeon is another rainforest fruit eating pigeon found in small flocks feeding high in the canopy of fig and other native fruit trees. It has an unually small head and unusual head dress.
This Banded Lapwing remained motionless as I observed it, possibly making it a lesser target for a predator as movement brings attention to the would be attacker.
Lastly, this lovely Variegated Fairy-wren was also present as a captive of the zoo, as it was in the process of eclipsing into breeding plumage.
Change is an important aspect of our growth, yet often for many a fearful expectation when confronted with it. Most of us like things to stay the way they are, which can lead to complacency, which is one of the largest threats to a vital and passionate life. Change brings character development and opportunity to adapt and improve our life skills. Like the Fairy-wren eclipsing from breeding to non breeding plumage sometimes twice a year, we need to embrace change courageously and make it a positive aspect to our life by meeting it as an opportunity to attract greater opportunity, as it does for the Fairy-wren by attracting the female gender when he adorns his breeding plumage.
Have a wonderful week!