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
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!
Continuing our exploration of the deep dark rainforests of the Lamington Mountain National Park, Queensland, we showcase four rarely seen birds which we saw on our visit to O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat. The Alberts Lyrebird is the second of the two only Lyrebirds in the world, both of which are found in Eastern Australia.
However, the Alberts is only found in a very small portion of rainforest near the NSW-Queensland border high up in the Great Dividing Range in Lamington National Park. The Alberts Lyrebird is different in appearance to the Superb Lyrebird which is commonly found in the forests of south eastern Australia. I have posted the Superb frequently from the Sydney region of the Royal NP and further south in Budderoo NP. Compare the two…
Though they are quite different in appearance they both have similar behavioural characteristics. They both mimic other bird sounds, and both males perform a mating dance to attract the female, but are much more secretive. Here is some footage captured of one calling.
Most rainforest birds forage on the leafy insect and grub rich rainforest floor under the cover of darkness, they are often difficult to see and more so to photograph, and are very timid to human presence.
Another bird we diligently pursued was the Paradise Riflebird, a beautiful bird seldom seen because it forages high up in the canopy of the ancient rainforest trees, prying bark and pressing its long curved beak into tree crevices in search of insects and grubs. We would have loved to see the beautiful male, but we were blessed to see a pair of juveniles, which resemble the female. You can observe how it uses its long beak, prying away bark, which is a giveaway to their presence. They are usually very high up in the tree, making photography difficult due to distance and very poor light. This bird was a lifer for us. Though we continue to seek out the more beautiful and elusive male. Click on photos to enlarge them.
Another bird seldom seen because it is small and camouflaged as it digs down into the rainforest floor in the darkness, is the Australian Logrunner. These tiny birds are difficult to photograph as they constantly move, and are extremely timid of human contact. Notice how well they make themselves invisible in the third pic.
Here is prime footage of one calling as he forages. He is out of sorts because he is our alone from the family group,
Here is some precious footage of a male and female pair foraging together, watching out for each other as they dig. Notice the female has the rufous throat and the male the white.
The Russet-tailed Thrush is another rarely seen rainforest bird, extremely shy of humans, more so than its cousin the Bassian Thrush which is also shy but more often seen. The Bassian will freeze and remain motionless to blend into the background whereas the Russet-tailed will immediately flee once it sees you. Note the distinguishing long white under tail seen in the third photo. This bird is usually seen foraging on the rainforest floor, but on this unusual occasion, after asking God for something special we found this bird sitting quietly on a low branch, and allowed us to photograph it before it left.
It can be difficult to differentiate the Bassian from the Russet-tailed, except for the more rufous wing colouring and white on the under wing.
All of these elusive birds live hidden and protected in their dark moist rainforest habitat. They are wonderfully camouflaged and survive well while they remain in their dark forest habitat. They become extremely vulnerable when they attempt to employ their camouflage outside of their normal habitat, where predators find them easy game. So it is with us when we attempt to live and move outside God’s best for our life, for which we were intelligently designed for. This is why when we mistreat our body, mind or spirit we become vulnerable to all sorts or addictions, diseases, neuroses and emotional disorders.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11
“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” – Psalm 119:105
Have a wonderful week! Despite the rain and lack of advertising, I managed to sell many books at the Australasian Bird Fair.
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!
Ash Island is part of the extensive Hunter Wetlands National Park, and while it includes the breeding grounds for several water birds and passerines, it is also houses south-eastern side, the worlds largest coal loading facility. The drought conditions have been drying up the many lakes and ponds leaving salt marsh conditions which has made the Red-necked Avocets more visible as they scoop the mudflats of the remaining marshes. Usually the Black-winged Stilt is found with the Avocets here, but they were no where to be seen, as the water levels were probably too low for them.Click on photo to enlarge it.
This juvenile Avocet is noted along away from the close knit flock. Notice its grey/brown head, this will turn red as it matures.
This footage shows the upward and/or sideways scooping action of the Avocet’s very unique beak. God has designed this bird’s beak to sift out small crustaceans (known as Brine Shrimp) from the moist salt layered mud.
This small family flock of White-faced Heron grazed further back from the road undisturbed.
Across the road high in this electricity tower an Osprey nest had activity, though the Osprey did not like me watching them.
This beautiful bright Yellow Thornbill was seen and heard moving the trees by the road nearby the Osprey.
Lastly, nearby this beautiful male Superb Fairy-wren called from the tall grass by the road.
The amazing thing about this visit to Ash Island was that all of the above was viewed within a 100 metres, from the road. My wife and I have found on our travels, if you just park by the road anywhere birds are sighted, watch and wait, often you will be surprised by what is there. You also need to remember to look up. This immature Whistling Kite was being pursued by this lone gutsy aggressive Noisy Miner which shows that its not about size but courage. Fear brings defeat before the battle begins, but faith and courage can defeat enemies far greater that fear can ever realise.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9
Even the weakest, small in stature, seemingly insignificant person can achieve great things in life with faith and courage that is grounded firmly in God’s strength, which is freely ours trusting in Jesus as we access his Holy Spirit power. Check out Jesus for yourself. Don’t get led astray thinking you need to go to a church to find him. I found him from reading his story in the Bible in a plain English translation and later prayed to him, asking him to forgive, restore, renew me and come into my life. It was the best decision I ever made, and he has been the best for my life and my wife also.
“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” – 2 Timothy 1:7
Check out my Birder Sanctuary page for more information on how you can have a more peaceful and courageous life learning from our birds.
Have a great week!
Continuing from my last post we continue to explore the birds at Walka Waterworks. This is a very special time for east coast Australian birders, as many species only found inland (over the Great Dividing Range) are crossing over to the coast in search of water and food, due to drought conditions inland. Once such sighting is this Striped Honeyeater, which is not common to our coastal areas.
The White-plumed Honeyeater is another inland bird we saw at Walka. This tiny honeyeater is found in large number in the dryer inland regions, but occasionally near the coast.
The usual Yellow-faced Honeyeater was also present but not in the large numbers seen in the Royal NP.
It is true true that many Australians do not realise that we have many of the worlds honeyeaters, and that birds such as the Red Wattlebird and even the pesky Noisy Miner are native Australian honeyeaters, despite their aggressive tendencies. Many Aussies still don’t know that the wattle on the red wattlebird is the red external features on the side of each cheek.
Another popular honeyeater found here and all along the coast is the Lewins Honeyeater with its classic yellow spot on its cheeks.
We were surprised to find this lone White-necked heron looking quite handsome in the afternoon sun.
We must not neglect to mention the White-faced Heron, usually seen at low tide on river mud flats, but sometimes on inland lake shores.
Many of my blog followers appreciated seeing the elusive Scarlet Honeyeater up close, so I will just refresh with a couple more shots.
The male and female Figbird were seen together during the day. The bright red eye ring is a feature of the south eastern race, the Far North Queensland race has a much lighter almost pink eye ring. You can see how different the female is to the male, and how it can be confused with an Olive baked Oriole or immature Rufous Whistler from a distance.
The Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike is another bird seen in larger numbers now, and is known for its lovely song.
The beautiful Eastern Rosella flew into the Grevillea tree also while we filmed the Scarlet Honeyeaters, but these birds were quite shy and did not like us photographing them.
Some of you may be wondering what do some of the many colourful beautiful Grevillea and Bottlebrush flowers look like which attract our nectar eating birds. Here are some including Golden, Moonlight, Robin Gorden, Coconut Ice, Spider and many other kinds of Grevillea, all glorious in colour and shape, during spring and summer, providing food for the new generation being birthed in nests nearby. Most of the flowers are red, white or gold in colour. Research has shown that Moonlight Grevillea is one of the best native plants to grow to attract birds due to its high desirable nectar content.
With all this activity going on the Australian Raven looks on wondering what all the fuss is about, but the Little Corella are quite unperturbed as they eat grass seed from the mowed lawns , they are not into Grevillea.
Other smaller seed eating birds are these Red-browed Finch also enjoying grass seed on the lawns.
You may remember that the attraction to this place originally was the water birds, especially the Great Crested Grebe we saw breeding here last year. But we saw only one bird at this stage, though this time last year there were many breeding here. It was disappointing, to see just the usual Great Cormorants sitting in the sun.
As we rode on the train around the lake we saw a huge flock of what we initially thought were Australasian Grebe, but curiously enough we have never seen such a flock of this bird, usually only small flocks when breeding, but these were a tight knit flock. On closer examination at home of these photos we found a mixture of Australasian and Hoary-headed Grebe, hence the explanation for the difference in flocking. This picture could make you think these Grebe were babies of this Australian Black Swan, which also breeds here.
If you look carefully you can see the difference in the head featuring the stringy dark appearance. The Australasian Grebe is the bird in the middle of the two Hoary-headed. This was a surprising find.
Of course all this is under the watchful eyes of this pair of Kookaburra, possibly preparing for a family of their own. It is always a treat to get a photo of them together.
Our feature bird here is this beautiful, but difficult to photographe Brown Gerygone. These birds are always a challenge to get a clear shot of because they move around so much, and tend to move in the thick of the tree.
It would not be complete without an appearance of the famous Eastern Yellow Robin, found in almost every forest and looking for mates, as this one was calling incessantly but getting no response.
Yes, the Superb Fairy-wren was heard and seen moving about in the tall grass and bushes throughout the reserve, we must have seen over 20 families. Which concludes a marvelous day of birding on our family gathering. An abundance of blessing…
“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” – 2 Corinthians 9:8
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full [abundantly].” – John 10:10
Having Jesus our lives gives us access to so much more in life, so much more appreciation of all things, and a delight in the abundance of gifts he delights to bestow on my wife and I as we explore a more abundant life. Yes, it just makes you want to love him more and want to live more fully of his love. The thief is the Devil and his spirit beings that seek to ruin our lives if we let them tempt us, but a full and abundant life comes from living in the joy and delight of acceptance and love from God.
Have a great week!
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.
The current drought conditions and unusually warm Spring weather has caused many species from over the ranges to move toward the coast, bringing unexpected sightings of several species of passerines. While I have not been out much , many other birders around Sydney are having surprising finds. This White-necked Heron was a surprise to my wife and I at Oatley Park Reserve.
Many of the winter migrants are in the air and flying back to Australia and New Zealand. Of the birds that did not migrate, the Great Egret and Little Egret are good examples.
The White-faced Heron is the most common wader we see in the Heron family, and is predictably found in the same areas of wetlands..
The Sacred Kingfisher is another bird that is found all year round, as this one was in Oatley park.
The lizards are once again basking in the sun Water Dragons, Skinks and the occasional Red-bellied Black Snake has been sighted.
The Little Pied Cormorant hunts alone as usual, the cormorants are non migratory, and nest in the Sydney parks.
Other water birds that breed locally are The Australasian Grebe, The Royal Spoonbill, Black-winged Stilt, Red-necked Avocet and Masked Lapwing to name a few.
The Eastern Crimson Rosella is a beautiful bird which is often misplaced because of its various calls sounding like chimes, even sometimes like Bell Miners (Bellbirds). This one played hard to get but I did manage these shots and some recorded track of its call.
Spring means we start hearing the continuous call of the Australian Reed Warbler (known previously as the Clamorous Reed Warbler). It is always a challenge to get a good picture of this bird that lives inside the reeds and flies very fast when it sees you.
The Superb Fairy-wren is always around all year round and breeds throughout the year. The male will eclipse possibly twice a year as it moves in and out of breeding plumage.
With all the ripening figs on the many fig varieties in Australia, many of our birds feed from these including the Figbird, which make quite a racket when feeding on ripe figs, they seem to get high on them.
My last bird for this week is this beautiful Yellow Thornbill, which because of its orange chin may be from the Inland race which is not normally seen here on the coast. This may be due to the inland drought causing them, like many other species in search of water and food to fly over the ranges to the coast.
So we wait for our returning Summer birds, and hopefully we will get to see some of these displaced species not normally seen in our coastal areas. I leave this post with the thought that like the birds which hunger and thirst after food and water, taking them into new and interesting vistas, so it can be for each of us when we explore the depths of God’s love for us in Jesus. It is only when we are this hungry and thirsty for change for the best that we will explore God’s offer of abundant life in Jesus.
“…whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” – John 4:4
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” – John 6:35
Have a wonderful week birding!
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.