This post is a continuation of our recent time away in Far North Queensland where we enjoyed a much needed rest and recuperation, as well as some birding of course. You may have noticed my weekly posts have become shorter, as I realised that many of my readers are busy and do not have the time to appreciate long posts. One blessed feature of our time in Palm Cove was that several of the birds we sought and wanted to see, were actually brought to us at the resort. Last week I featured the Rainbow Bee-eater which was just outside the window near our room each morning. However, one bird in particular that walks hunting on the nature strips along the beaches at night, of the Far North Queensland coast, is the Bush Stone-curlew, a bird which I featured in last year’s post on our visit to Townsville. Here are some day time photos taken in Townsville.
This large bird seldom flies but stalks the streets and parks at night, resting secluded during the day, similar to other night birds. It feeds on a variety of foods including insects, molluscs, small lizards, seeds and occasionally small mammals.
One night as my wife and I sat dining in the open tropical setting of our resort dining area, next to the garden and hallway entrance, we were surprised by some very unusual sounds coming from the garden near where we were seated. After a few minutes, to our surprise and delight, a Bush Stone-curlew emerged from that same garden and was standing in the hallway barely six feet from us. I managed to catch the following pics on my phone, as I did not have my camera with me.
Bush Stone-curlew visits us at dinner
Bush Stone-curlew in resort hallway
This bird which we had not yet seen here had come to us. We proceeded to follow it as it made its way out of the dining area past the guests onto and across the street to the nature strip where it would spend the night stalking insects that come to the light, as it could hide along the beach in the vegetation as people passed. After dinner I took my movie camera and my wife her camera and we walked up and down the nature strip finding several lone birds in their own territories hunting. Here is some footage:
Listen to their cries, it sounds like someone being murdered. This can go on through the night as they communicate to one another and mark their territories. Sorry for the traffic noise in the background.
Notice how they freeze when they are seen, this is a protective feature many birds use when their plumage matches their surroundings, and are less likely to be seen if they do not move at night, for example the Bassian Thrush in the dark rainforest setting.
The feature photo at the beginning of this post was taken by my wife in the dark as is these:
If that wasn’t enough, next morning at breakfast in the same dining area, which had been opened to the ocean and tropical breeze, a ruckus of birds being pursued was heard outside. We could hear Common or Indian Mynas as they are locally known and whistling sounds. Looking up into one of the huge native paper bark trees we saw a pair of Radjah Shelduck terrified by this experience. These introduced Mynas are a menace to our native birds, and in some cities eradication has helped, but they breed so well here. You can hear the whistle sound of the Shelduck:
The first bird sounds we heard on our arrival and during our entire stay from morning to night were that of the Australasian Figbird, of the northern race which differs considerably to our southern race. Australia has over 100 varieties of Fig trees which provide food for our many fruit eating birds all year round, as each species fruits at a different time of year. Here is what we heard each day from our room.
The male Figbird has a very dark red eye ring and complete yellow breast making it the new northern subspecies race ashby which use to be with the now Intermediate sub species with partial yellow underparts race flaviventris. Our southern race back home is known as the green Figbird race vielloti. Compare our green Figbird from the south, pictured last below, with the northern Figbird we were seeing at Palm Cove.
Male Figbird in a Fig Tree
Female Figbird NE race
Male Figbird southern race
To finish, we return to the beautiful and rapid flying Rainbow Bee-eater to show some captures shown in slow motion of a small flock first having a wash. Followed by frames taken of them washing and then shaking themselves dry together in a tree nearby.
Shaking themselves dry after wash
That’s all for this week, will have some lifers and more exciting finds next week. The main message I received from the time away was that when I rest in God as my loving Father and trust him to bless me with his avian wonders, he faithfully brings them to me, and do not need to strive after them. When we planned this holiday, before we discovered my recent health issues, we were planning a very active birding expedition, but we were both told to rest, and for the first time I made that a priority rather than chasing the birds. This was the exciting aspect that my wife and I both enjoyed and saw as a mark of his favor during our time away. that when we rest on the Lord and wait for him he comes to us.
“Bestillbefore the Lord and wait patiently for him…” – Psalm 37:7 (NIV)
“Be patient and wait for the Lord to act;” – Psalm 37:7 (GNT)
and for us who are experiencing healing and/or have need of it…
“The Lord will help them when they are sick and will restore them to health.” – Psalm 41:3 (
Have a wonderful week!
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Last weekend my wife and I visited our national capital Canberra in the ACT where my wife and her other two sisters (The Three Sisters) visited the National Gallery for the Love & Desire Pre-Raphaelite Masterpieces from the Tate exhibition. On the following day as the rain persisted we revisited the research woodlands of Mulligan’s Flat in the suburb of Forde, where we last were told there was a family of Red-capped Robin, a few years ago. Thankfully the rain ceased as we walked to the gates. You can read more about this research experiment here. Large electrified fences protect the wildlife from foxes, cats and other predators. Click on photo to enlarge it.
As we walked in we were under constant surveillance from the many large Grey Kangaroos resting after a night of grazing. This large male was making sure we kept clear of the youngster nearby, and we did!
Several fenced off areas have been created to reintroduce rare and once existent wildlife species to repopulate the area. These include the species below. Interesting enough, the Bush-Stone Curlew, which has been long removed from this far south, had flown the coupe, but in recent months have been sighted in the residential streets and areas at night, which means the experiment, has worked but not in the way the scientists expected . You may remember we posted these unusual birds last year when in Far North Queensland, where they are found in large numbers.
We were at first disappointed as we viewed the evidence of stressed eucalypts, empty water courses and dams and few birds due to the persisting drought. Our first sightings of any significance were the beautiful Eastern Rosella. Birds of the Parrot family are most numerous in the inland dryer regions of Australia.
Its colorful cousin the Eastern Crimson Rosella was also feeding in a nearby street .
Eastern Crimson Rosella
Eastern Crimson Rosella
Eastern Crimson Rosella
But the highlight for us and a small family we met was this young Short-nosed Echidna (‘Spiny Anteater’) feeding quite placidly by the track unperturbed by us onlookers.
They poke their long snout (which is both nose and mouth) into holes in search of ants and termites which they lap up with their long tongue. Their sharp claws are used to pry open bark to enter rotting logs and also dig. They have no teeth but simply flick their food into their mouth. They are usually, like their monotreme cousin the Platypus, very shy, and will easily coil into a spiny ball if approached. These two specie are only found in Australia and are in a class of their own as the only egg laying mammal.
As we walked on in search of the elusive Red-capped Robin (my lifer bird quest for 2019) we heard the distinctive call of the White-throated Treecreeper. The Brown Treecreeper is also found in this area, but not today. The orange spot on the face indicates it is a female.
These birds call with their loud unmistakable repetitive chime as they ascend the tree to the top looking for insects and grubs, making them easy to detect. However photographically they are difficult to focus and get good shots, especially since they tend favor the non sunny side of the tree to climb.
Of course the Eastern Magpie (‘Black-Backed Magpie’) is one of the most commonly seen territorial birds on the east coast and most successful breeders ( due to their extended family structure), no matter how dry it is. They are predictably found, and are one of the world’s most intelligent and clever birds up there with the Raven and Crow. This male looked striking in the sun so I had to capture his regal pose. They are feared during the nesting season as they savagely attack passers by. However, if you are a known friend to them they will not attack. Recent research has shown that this ability to do facial recognition is some how mysteriously passed on to the next generations. I have stood next to people being repeatedly and savagely attacked when at no time did they even attempt to attack me, having been knowingly classed as their friend.
They feel greatly threatened when the approach is quick by bicycle or running, but this only lasts through the nesting season. They have one of the most beautiful and complex song structure of any bird, we delight to hear it each morning. You will hear a Pied Currawong calling in the background, they also have an interesting and very varied call.
Of course no matter where you go in eastern Australia you will always hear the raucous call of the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, and here was no exception.
The only other birds we we saw were in the several Mixed Feeding Flocks or MFFs which are commonly seen in these woodlands. This is where several species of small, insectivorous Passerines (tree birds) move from tree to tree together usually calling excitedly to each other as they go. This flock seemed to be driven by several Grey Fantails, a larger bird which seemed to be moving them on. The tiny fast moving feeders were almost impossible to photograph, but I did my best to identify Yellow-rumped Thornbills, Buff-rumped Thornbills, Brown Thornbills, Striated Thornbills and Spotted Pardolote (which eluded me). What an amazing combination, and by now it was quite hot standing in the sun following this flock from tree to tree. These tiny birds are all insectivorous and Lerp feeders.
Soon we left the park having not seen the Red-capped Robin in the spot we were hoping, but instead saw the MFF. Homeward bound but very delighted with what we did see, and for the long walk we needed before our 3 hour drive home.
My bird meditation for this week was given to me this morning when I discovered this Rufous Fantail flying about in the front porch area of our home. This was an amazing blessing for any birder, since this very flighty and timid bird is never seen in residential areas but only in the dense shaded palm and rainforest areas.
We usually only see them here in our forests for a very short period in Autumn-Winter as they pass through feeding on insects. While they are stunningly beautiful in the sunshine, they are one of the most difficult birds to photograph as they seldom stay still.
So I felt very blessed for the privilege of having a few moments with this poor stressed bird, which I think had been harassed by the bully Noisy Miners, as they do to all intruding birds. It may have taken refuge in the porch, but why is it so far from the forest? Possibly it was looking for water as it was passing through our region.
I took movie of its plight, hoping to catch good footage of its beautiful plumage on both sides, without the help of direct sunlight. It rested occasionally and watched me, wondering about me. Eventually it saw I was standing outside in the sun and realised it could fly downwards to escape, and when it realized that down and not up was the way out, it was free at last! Here is some slow motion footage of its flight, slowed to half speed.
Sometimes we have to think outside of our usual learned and safe strategies. Sometimes what we have been taught or convinced of by influential and scholarly people may keep us trapped in a false thinking and belief system. Most of us need help and guidance to find the way ahead to a better life. There are so many voices, opinions and controlling influences which seek to subdue us with their manipulative lies and misrepresentations. Many ask what is Truth? How can I be free of all the guilt and pain of my past and present life? As the Rufous Fantail saw freedom was outside of what he knew to be the way one would normally think, by courageously flying down toward me to freedom, rather than continuing to fly upwards as he had known and been taught to always do. It takes courage to believe differently from everyone else around you, when you believe true freedom is found in a different place and by going in a different direction to the hopelessness of a world that does not know its Creator and the love and freedom that faith in him can bring.
Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins [does wrong] is a slave of sin [their wrong doing].A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever.So if the Son [God’s sinless Son Jesus] sets you free, you are truly free.” – John 8: 34-36
“No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. – John 14:6
Seek the Lord while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near. Let the wicked change their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong. Let them turn to the Lord that he may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously.
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. – Isaiah 55:6-9
Have a wonderful week ! As the seasons change so do some of our birds. If you are new to my blog and want to know more about birding, visit my Home Page menu for birding tips and interesting information which deals with the mindful and healthy recreation of bird watching. Maybe you are looking for the perfect gift, check out my book on my BirdBook page.