As we in Sydney continue in lock-down with cases and deaths continuing to rise due to this extremely unbelievably contagious Delta strain, it has been wise to stay away from people as much as possible. Things can only get worse in the following days as we see the results of defiant non mask wearing anti-authoritarian anarchists begin to suffer the consequences of their foolish activity in their disgusting violent rally last weekend. It begs belief that people can be so selfish and foolish, only return home to possibly place their loved ones in danger of catching the virus. That being said, I have chosen to focus on our beautiful red breasted Aussie Robins, which are the true Red Robins of our world, a title the European Robin has held throughout history. I decided to publish a chapter from my latest book “Flight of a Fledgling” to highlight not only the Robins but also a truth from which is gleaned: – the importance of integrity of character. This is a quality becoming less honored in today’s secular humanistic society. Click on the pages below to enlarge and read the text.
Have a great week and stay warm and safe.
If you have not purchased your copy of my books yet take this opportunity to explore my /birdbook pageand purchase gifts for your loved ones, gifts that will not only introduce them to our interesting Aussie birds but also teach valuable wise life skills for a healthy happy life. The price below is for Australian residents only it is AUD $48 for all other countries per book.
“Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.” – Proverbs 10:9
“The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.” – Proverbs 11:3
“Righteousness guards the person of integrity, but wickedness overthrows the sinner.” – Proverbs 13:6
“Make a treegood and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.” – Matthew 12:33
Variegated Fairy-wren female viewing Red-bellied Black Snake sunning.
A couple of days before an unexpected sudden Covid lock-down I went for a health walk in our local Oatley Park Reserve, from which I have posted previously many times. To my surprise it was as if I was not aware of what season it actually was here, I could have mistakenly thought it was Spring or at least late August (Aussie bush Spring). Firstly it was the many blooms of the two species of native wattle that grow here.
Secondly, the number of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Rainbow Lorikeets beginning to nest. Though we are on the border of the two distinct nesting seasons for these birds being in Sydney, it seems strange to see such activity in full swing. However, the absence of the Spring migrants and other nesting songbirds brings us back to reality. Here a male Cockie puts on a protective warding off performance to other Cockies who want to steal his nesting hole. Note the cone erection and wing flapping to make him more threatening. Sorry for the poor footage, he was some distance away.
Cockie families were gathered around their regular nesting holes preparing for the new season. As I have shared in previous posts, these birds nest in the same area each year, and choose the Angophora costata tree (Sydney Red Gum) for nesting due to the many holes it leaves in its growth and death.
At this time of year most members of the Parrot family, of which Australia is very well endowed with many and varied species, are eating the native eucalypt gumnuts, wattle seeds and Casuarina pine cones of the previous Summer, which is their primary food for now as you can see here..
These Cockies are noisy at the best of times, right through the day you can hear them squawking and shrilling, and it is good they do not roost near our home, as they make their loudest racket at dawn and sunset when coming and going from their roosting sight, which is not hard to find as they leave much faecal mess, feathers and broken off tree twigs on the ground below, due to their naturally destructive behaviour, as they are always testing out and strengthening their powerful beaks, designed for crushing seed pods and seeds..
The Rainbow Lorikeets also compete for nesting holes in the same trees and both species nest alongside each other often causing alarm to the other as they protectively guard their area. Many Aussies are not aware how brutal and dangerous Rainbow Lorikeets are to other birds that try to attack or displace them. They are one of the few bird species that other birds, such as Miners, think twice about attacking, because of the deep wounds their beaks inflict. They are super protective of their partners because they pair for life.
With booming home prices in Sydney now well over the million dollar mark for a run down one bedroom apartment, that makes real estate more expensive than real, and not the quality of the purchase. This couple of Rainbows are checking out this nesting hole and making their decision. Though the price may be right, the most important factor is: ‘Location, Location, Location !’ She scratches her head as he awaits her decision, at least if she says yes to this one, there is minimal renovation required and it has a nice northerly aspect which will protect from the harsh winter winds.
Rainbow Lorikeet pair looking to nest
Listen as these tow groups of Lorikeets communicate to each other as they feed from different trees nearby each other,
The other resident seed eater is the Eastern Crimson Rosella. This guy was searching on a rock face for seed, as the competition in the park has become more so during the middle of Winter. These birds have a series of calls and are often confused with the untrained ear with the call of the Bell Miner.
As you are aware only resident all year round birds are present here in Winter which includes the other bird I love to see and hear, the Grey Butcherbird, my favourite songbird. Listen as you hear just a couple of his great repertoire and the laugh he makes. You will hear the Lorikeets in the background as they moved him on. He is also an eater of small birds and a threat to those nesting. He was too high in the tree for me to spot as I followed him along.
Grey Butcherbird (borrowed from a recent post of mine)
Down in the ponds this lone Dusky Moorhen was fishing for aquatic grasses, which is their primary food. All of the other resident waterbirds had left.
As I walked along our favourite birding track by the mangroves and native Casuarina trees, where we always find Brown Thornbills, busily scanning and constantly moving among the branches for insects. I heard a family group moving across the trees and recorded their constant location call, of which I just love the purring sounds they make.
Brown Thornbill in Casuarina tree (checking me out for a few seconds)
By now you are probably wondering about my feature photo of the female Variegated Fairy-wren viewing the Red-bellied Black Snake sunning itself in the warm Winter sun, thankfully on the side of the tack and not on it. As I shared in a previous post, this snake does not hibernate like all the rest, and is commonly seen sunning itself on and by the tracks in Winter. Though it is poisonous it is not usually aggressive and will try to keep out of the way of humans. It is the better snake to have in your forest, as it drives away the more aggressive and more poisonous Eastern Brown Snake.
Firstly, I apologize for describing the female fairy-wren in last week’s post as a Superb. On further observation I realized, and should have picked up by the more intense colour of the tail and darker facial features that it was in fact a female Variegated Fairy-wren of which we have 5 subspecies in Australia, this one being the eastern coast race lamberti. Both Superb and Variegated Fairy-wrens share the same forests here in Sydney. The latter is more frequently found in the west and all over mainland Australia.
the best profile of the female
the rear of the bird
This is often all you will see of this bird
the tail in profile
The clincher was that the non-breeding male was also present with her as they hopped around in and out of the low bushes, making my job to capture them almost impossible. I spent quite some time, as they teased me. Here is today’s pic of the same male taken during the spring breeding season for comparison of breeding and non breeding (eclipse) plumage changes. Notice he only has traces of blue on his flanks and maintains his blue tail and lacks the dark chestnut eye rings and lores markings. The feature of this bird, which my wife loves as one of her favourites, is just how bright this blue is in sunlight, as it outshines the other Fairy-wren species.
breeding plumage September
non breeding plumage June
Here are more shots I managed to capture, where the flanking blue is more visible. Note just how small these birds are and how their size and speed make it easy for them to hide and move about undetected, but for their high pitched location calls, which they make much less than the Superb species.
non breeding plumage June
As these birds are territorial and predictable, in that they circumnavigate the same area several times a a day, we can observe the same bird families throughout the year, which makes it great for showing birder visitors and friends these birds with a relative reliability. Here is the bird April last year shown in a previous post and seen in the same area, before developing its warmer winter plumage.
Enjoy your week, and stay warm and safe. We and all greater Sydney are currently in a 14 day lock-down as the delta variant runs its course through our city after a relatively virus free period. Poor implementation of hotel quarantine has been the major cause for outbreaks so far, being introduced from overseas residents and airline staff returning home. The good side for us is that the weather is cold, wet and bleak and not good for birding, and the birds are in their resting season or in migration.
Don’t forget to check out the rest of my website pages for more birding information. Also check out and purchase my unique books on Australian birds and their peculiar behavioral characteristics. They are excellent gifts for your child and grandchild as they will not only enjoy learning about our birds but also learn to make wise life choices as each birds teaches a valuable life lesson.
Take a look at this unusual phenomenon that caught my eye while I was birding the above post.
The effect of the light reflecting off the illuminated water on the shaded trees, whereby the rippling gives this strobe effect which at first was quite eerie until I worked out what was causing it.
There are many amazing and unusual occurrences in nature that we see in our lifetime, at many we marvel as to how they occur, and others using careful observation combined with the collected wisdom of the ages we learn and deduce an explanation. We do not have perfect knowledge, as our knowledge is constantly evolving and often being corrected as further facts and better ways of measuring are devised.
The Covid vaccines are a good example, as is the constantly mutating envelope virus that they address. The knowledge about this virus is evolving along with the virus as it mutates to survive. Many have had one or two vaccinations with no or very minimal side effects, a very small number have had adverse reactions, while others are afraid due to adverse media reporting to be vaccinated or to receive their second jab to complete their immunity.
From one whom in a previous lifetime, worked in immunology and immunohaematology, it is known that every year, from almost every kind of vaccination, a small percentage of people experience side effects, and in some very rare cases, serious life threatening, usually due to unique and unusual inherited and sometimes acquired chemical imbalances in their body chemistry. These poor outcomes are seldom or never reported by the media. If they did very few would get vaccinated and protected from serious life threatening infections. It is the current focus on the Covid virus and its global involvement that has attracted over-rated media interest and reporting, with the sensational attempt to squeeze a story.
All medical procedures and vaccinations have their statistically calculable risks of less than 5% which is the maximum predictable statistical aberration rate for most tests and procedures. The good thing is that in real life, where careful guidelines and stopmeasures are in place and being observed, there is very rarely any adverse reactions or aberration events and the statistical error is much much lower, as the medical profession have been trying to get across to the public, after the media have helped to promote fear from their sensational reporting.
If we allow fear to stop us moving forward in the case of the Covid vaccination, then it should also prevent us driving or even being a passenger in car, as statistically this is more dangerous, with possible serious complications caused by accidents, which may affect several people in one instance. We know it is unhealthy to have such fears, and there are many that receive counseling with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to help overcome these unhealthy fears. One thing the Covid has taught us all is that not one of us know and can plan what the next day or even hour will bring, For those who enjoy a solid faith platform and belief system, step out in faith, enjoy the ride, and believe and pray for a good outcome.
Even if you struggle to believe in God, from a non biased counseling point of view, you can only benefit from trusting in him both emotionally, mentally and physically, as faith is a much healthier place for us than fear, for this we were designed originally to live by faith and trust, on which our whole society functions and remains intact. Enjoying a solid truth based faith platform for one’s life is vital to a healthy long life, and this has been scientifically supported and verified.
“This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness…” – Psalm 91:2-6 (NLT)
Last Friday my wife and I went for a birding date in the Royal National Park, it was a beautiful winter’s day, the only problem was as we walked along the track was the absence of different bird calls. The main call was the prolific Yellow-faced Honeyeater as small flocks scoured the tree canopy for lerps and blossom, constantly calling to each other and occasionally playing chasings.
As we scoured the river bank for Kingfishers, but found none we noticed this Little Corella popping its head out of a very tight nesting hole, as this is the beginning of the breeding season for several of the Parrot species, and the competition is on between Corellas, Lorikeets, and Cockatoos for nesting holes in the smooth barked Angophora costata trees known as Sydney Red Gums.
This Corella has chosen the smooth barked Scribbly Gum tree due to the high Ccocky population in the park, where most holes are taken. I have arrowed some of the scribble patterns made by a small insect in the bark which gives this tree its name,
Here are a couple of Rainbow Lorikeet guarding the nesting hole as the female sits on the eggs inside. Note one is the traditional hole in the tree and the other a termite nest which was originally holed and also used each spring for nesting by the local Kookaburras and Kingfisher. The greenery used inside is an interesting addition for comfort. The hole on the left comes with a covered porch, quite salubrious.
Along the track we were watched by this young Kookaburra as it sat quietly, as they do watching and waiting for a food moment with its very keen binocular eyesight. They don’t appear to be looking for food, but they are, on the ground below, ready to dive down and pounce on worms, lizards, snakes, large insects and mice. I classify the Kookaburra as our most placid bird.
Not far away the opportunistic Pied Currawong can be heard calling, also in search of an easy food moment.
I would like to share my resident Pied Currawong bathing, something I seldom see as this bird is so secretive and very conscious of being watched, considering it secretly watches opportunistically to take advantage of others. He just happened along as I was writing this post. I held the camera while keeping myself out of view, notice how he looks around cautiously.
One of the most difficult birds to photograph due to their fast non stop movement and love of dark under canopy protection is the Brown Gerygone (pronounced Ger-ig-on-ee which is its identifying call). These little guys are such a challenge.
On the river nearby this Australasian Grebe was spending time with a Dusky Moorhen having a quiet moment together. I have included a pair captured cruising a few days earlier in our nearby park, with remaining breeding plumage from the previous breeding season to distinguish non-breeding from breeding plumage, note particularly under the Grebe’s chin, and ear area. You only see Grebes together when breeding or with young, for the rest of the year they tend remain alone, often being found in the most unexpected places, but usually in the middle of a pond or lake, and never on land. They are excellent divers, and dive to escape danger as well as forage underwater for small fish and aquatic insects.
It was quite unusual and premature for this local species of Wattle to be flowering this early, in the middle of Winter, as it normally is the first flower traditionally marking Spring in our country, usually late August-September.
Lastly, the only other bird we saw long enough to photograph was this adult female Variegated Fairy-wren. Notice the orange eye and beak markings and the light blue tail, the non breeding male lacks the eye rings and lores and has a dark beak, and a much darker richer blue tail with light blue wing flanking. I enjoyed capturing the different tail postures of this little lady as she jumped around
Enjoy your week and stay safe and warm. We are masking up again as another recent Covid outbreak looms in our city causing concern and possibly affecting our plans for the weekend and a visit from two of my grandsons in two weeks who have missed four opportunities over the last two years to have time with us. If this is your first visit check out the rest of my website for more helpful birding info.
Meanwhile here is an interesting video about this bird with the big inquisitive yellow eye, unique to our country, and how he features in the 2nd edition of “What Birds Teach Us” – the perfect gift for your child and grandchild. You will also hear some of the many amazing sounds these birds make.
Click on the cover below to find out more about The Beautiful Bird Book:
It is an interesting observation that those who practice a particular behaviour often suffer from the fear of the same occurring to them, and this fear may be later be actually realized, self fulfilling ‘what goes around comes around’ or ‘what one sows so they shall reap’, which is a universal principal taught in most cultures and belief systems.
I have used the Currawong from among many other birds to highlight this characteristic and highlight how it is much more peaceful and helpful to look out for the needs of others rather than trying to take advantage of them in an opportunistic manner, whether devious or not. Repeated behaviours become a label which may stick even after one has corrected an unhealthy or selfish behaviour. We see how devastating the media can be to a person’s reputation, even when allegations are proved to be untrue, the mud sticks. They also are very opportunistic, similar to the Currawong, gaining an advantage at someone elses expense. So it is, this principle works itself out in our lives, the guilt and fear of being caught or found out runs strong in our mind and emotions affecting the peace and harmony our lives and relationships. If unresolved may result ultimately in emotional and physical illnesses.
Pied Currawongs arguing over their spoils
One thing I have observed throughout my lifetime, is that it is often those who make the loudest noise and react to the wrong or inappropriate behaviour of others, that blindly are guilty of doing the very same or similar themselves. We need to extend more grace and forgiveness to each other as we appreciate, that each one of us, are or may be damaged stock or fragile, hurting beings or even walking wounded. We are affected and shaped by our imperfect past, we are people who err occasionally, and possible of making unwise judgments and assessments of ourselves and others. This is why Jesus said these hated words we all cringe at: “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” – Matthew 7:2. No this is not a just some religious principle, but a universal life principle, and one which I have had to learn myself the hard way, and the more I see and understand God’s kindness and mercy to me, the more I realize how much I need to extend grace and forgiveness to others, and uncover my own blind spots so as to be a more authentic person.
In the light of the above discussion, many churches and people have misunderstood the implied meaning of Jesus’ words in the Lord’s Prayer, “Forgive us our wrongs in the same way that we have forgiven those who have wronged us.” – Matthew 6:12 Considering he never did wrong to anyone but loved them, and forgave all who did and said wrong against him, he was not asking for forgiveness, as many imply, as forgiveness came as a complete and finished work through his death on the cross for all who believe and receive him. He was calling us to account daily and keep short lists, to realize the gravity and cost of this amazing grace and forgiveness he gave to us as a free undeserved gift, so that we would likewise experience his love and peace as we forgive with the same loving and humble spirit. This is always a reminder to me that we can only give out of the abundance of that which we have already received, and…
Last weekend my wife and I drove to the little country town of Dungog at the southern foot of the Barrington Mountains, about 220 km north-west of Sydney for a special booksigning Saturday morning arranged and sponsored by one of my current best book-selling shops Sassafras Dungog. It was a great success and a most enjoyable morning meeting the locals, including their children and signing books. This was preceded by a 15 minute radio interview by their community radio station, to which many responded. There was face painting and other activities on the morning. Here is a brief collage of the time. This has been the first time since Covid that I have been invited to do this again.
As you can see it was a very cold winter morning, as it is out west in winter, but that did not stop the continuous line of people queuing to have their books signed, many having bought several, which is often the case as it is a great gift idea. I was overwhelmed with delight when a grandfather came especially to share how he gave a copy of my book to his grandson who has been the subject of persistent disturbing bullying, and how the chapter on dealing with bullies helped him to a good outcome. These are the testimonies I hear from time to time which almost bring tears to my eyes. If I can help one child or one adult with these books I have achieved my goal and legacy.
While there we were hosted to Blue Gum Cabins set in the bushland of the rainforest nearby. Each morning being greeted by the sound of Kookaburras calling.
Followed later by the continuous chime of Bell Miners (bellbirds) in the tall eucalypt trees that overhung our cabin in the very cold morning Winter air. These birds are usually heard but not seen and a challenge to photograph as they blend into the tree canopy so well and constantly move about. They control the area and we witnessed larger birds being bullied by them till they left.
You will hear them in this rather poor movie clip of a family of non breeding Superb Fairy-wren hopping about some distance from our cabin in and out of the thicket.
Non-breeding males retain their blue tail and don a white belly, they will start to morph as Spring approaches.
Superb Fairy-wren male
Here is some footage of a Pied Currawong being harassed early in the morning.
Each morning this female Australian Brush Turkey would come foraging around the cabin, the male is most likely controlling the temperature of the egg mound somewhere in the bush. Once she lays her eggs in the mound she is free to wander, and has nothing further to do with her babies, as they will hatch, struggle to escape out of the mound, and if they survive that, flee from the father who may attack them, to begin life foraging alone with no upbringing.
Australian Brush Turkey
The beautiful Eastern Crimson Rosella family would eat grass seed on the field below the cabin some distance away, looking stunning in the sunshine.
This Willy Wagtail was happily feeding continually on insects near our cabin and quiet unperturbed by my presence.
This Grey Shrike-thrush was hanging around trying to be inconspicuous in the trees, and also created a challenge for us as it would flee when we saw it. He was very quiet, as many of our songbirds are in Winter, it will sing in the spring.
The greatest birding delight was to watch small flocks of the tiny Yellow Thornbill ( predominantly a western bird) rapidly move through small bushes and trees that overhung a creek. We had to stand on the bridge and avoid traffic to catch a photo, which is always the greatest of challenges with these tiny fast moving insectivorous birds. These are but a few of the many taken which blurred or were hidden as these birds are very sensitive to human approach.
While we were exploring the town we saw this Blue-faced Honeyeater (another western bird), sitting on a wire, but quickly left when it saw us looking at it, but caught a glimpse of its partner before it fled deep into a nearby tree. This aggressive honeyeater has quite an attractive coloration.
Just before we met friends for coffee at “Cafe Deaddog” we stopped at this small creek-side park just out of town and got a view of the White-headed Pigeon which is found in these parts.
Of course this area has many other forms of wildlife including Platypus (which we did not see) and wallabies grazing near our accommodation.
A most enjoyable weekend had by all and many books signed and sold. A big thank you to Sharon and Andrea at Sassafras Dungog for hosting the event and inviting me.
Have a most enjoyable week staying warm and staying safe. We found out today that another outbreak threatens the northern parts of our city. Here we go again !
If this is your first visit take a few minutes to check our the many pages of my birding website and my book releases of which “What Birds Teach Us” has been acclaimed by many Visitor Centres and some gift stores and bookshops as their current best selling book, especially during the Covid. The saying I have heard several times is “The Book Sells Itself !”
While we did not have time to see many birds while away, it was good for us to get away and enjoy some country hospitality having been locked-down city dwellers through the Covid. I would like to share a humorous cartoon someone posted on Facebook.
One of the interesting things we noticed about the lovely country folk on the weekend was that the locals were very friendly and good for a chat and you seldom saw a mobile phone in their hand. They communicated quite freely, which I enjoyed, having been a country lad for most of my life. One of the sad realities in the city where I live is that many people will not talk with you and have their heads bowed over a phone. If they are talking aloud it is to someone on their phone as they have ear pieces inserted. I and others have shared how often have young adults run into you as they walk while watching their phones. If I try to strike a conversation on a train or bus they look strange at me and then give a short answer and return to their phone or tablet.
The saddest fact now is that many families have both parents viewing their phones in an addictive manner and the children are left to play on their own, and are not being lovingly supervised. This has led to occasional instances children being lost or locked in cars on very hot days, but most of all frustrated angry children becoming disrespectful undisciplined as they try to get the parent’s attention. Even sadder and more selfish is that many young parents think that by allowing the child to spend their time alone in their rooms with digital devices they are adequately occupied and safely out of their way. How are children going to relate to their parents and socially, how are they going to learn life skills and basic care for themselves, or get adequate sunshine and exercise if this is where they are encouraged to spend their time. Obesity and other associated ailments are on the rise in children as a result.
The greatest gift we can give our children or grandchildren while growing up is ourselves and our time not material things, how well our children grow and develop depends on how much we have taught them by example in their formative years. These topics are expanded in my recent book release Flight of a Fledgling.
“Discipline [instruct or demonstrate love to] your children, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to their [demise or failure] death.” – Proverbs 19:18
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” – Proverbs 22:6 (NIV)
“Fathers,do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them…” – Ephesians 6:4 (NLT)
Last Sunday afternoon my wife and I went on another birding date to our local Royal National Park, the world’s second declared National Park and later became the Royal in 1955 to honour of the queen’s 1954 visit to Sydney when she passed through it by train. As we walked along our usual walking trail, we noticed how quiet it was, very few birds were calling or even visible, it was already a changed season when birds are fewer and call less. Most birds like warmth and usually call more in the breeding season, both of which are months away. As we walked I suddenly stopped and my wife drew back as right in front of us on the track was the usual Red-bellied Black Snake innocently sunning itself in the Autumn sun, as the air is much cooler here in the mountains.
While these snakes are venomous and their bite poisonous, they are not usually aggressive and will try to retreat and only attack if threatened or with their young. They are the better snake to have around, as they kill the more aggressive and more deadly Brown Snake. I am well acquainted with them as years ago I had a family of large ones living in tall grass on my property near the dam and I hardly ever saw them. So I quietly said to my wife “Come on love, just quietly walk around it”. I reassured a young couple who were following us that it was safe to walk past, though the snake had raised its head and was watching us. I also reassured them that their eyesight is not that good, and they rely on vibrations in the ground and air which their thousands of body sensors pick up. So they followed me safely around the snake which laid across much of the track and we made our way as I chatted with the couple, as I do.
It was good to see the new blooms of Banksia ericafolia out on many trees, being one of the few sources of winter nectar to the honeyeaters, apart from any of the few flowering eucalypts. The Eastern Spinebill in particular love to draw from these nectar filled treats.
Eastern Spinebill feeding
So far our long walk had given little birding pleasure, though we rejoiced in that it was such a beautiful perfect still Autumn day which we enjoyed sharing together. Finally we came to a spot on the edge of the rainforest where we could hear many Scarlet Honeyeaters chiming in the trees above, and large mixed feeding flock of very small honeyeaters were moving rapidly around this vine which overhung the track. The sound of both the Yellow-faced and Lewins Honeyeater joined the chorus as they busily fed. The very tiny Scarlets, as you know, usually do not come near the ground, but dine high in the eucalypt canopy.
But then we shared an amazing moment when a male Scarlet Honeyeater came down to feed from the overhanging vine and we captured several rare flight shots of this bird.
To see how tiny this bird is to see, especially from a 30 to 40 meter tree top this was from a distance, as the bird is extremely human shy.
Not to mention the shots of him feeding. Please be aware that some enhancement of the lighting was required as in some instances there either was too much or not enough, which is one of the difficulties with rainforest photography. I was unable to capture the female as she kept well hidden in the foliage.
Here is what this little guy sounds like.
We made our way back to the park Cafe for a lovely lunch. As we were finishing lunch after chatting with a young couple nearby and having checked the park’s shop to see how my books were selling, we heard the sound of Noisy Friarbirds, a winter bird we seldom see here, eating from the fruit of the introduced trees near the river, so I hurried over, and so did the waitress some minutes later with the bill. These birds are rated as one of our noisiest birds and their classic call draws a birders attention. They are actually another large honeyeater.
Here’s what they sound like, it is similar to the Red Wattlebird’s call, but more monotonous. You will also detect in the middle of the recording the brief sounds of the Rainbow Lorikeet and Sulphur-crested Cockatoo.
Have a wonderful week and stay warm and safe.
If this is your first visit “Welcome !” and feel free to check out the pages on my website from my Menu or Home Page.
It is good that my opportunities to speak at schools and do book signing mornings are beginning to return again as Covid outbreaks have been paused in our state, after a year and half of only working from home.
The greatest challenge to a person entering a dense rainforest is coping with the reduced light, which can give an eerie feeling. Some become quite afraid and very cautious, especially overseas tourists whom I have led through them. Their fear is already conjured of deadly snakes, spiders and birds, not to mention blood sucking leeches and the fear of loosing your way, which I have done on occasions walking alone in unfamiliar forests, it can be very scary. It gets very dark, very quickly when the sun is not shining over its canopy. I soon reassure them that our rainforests in NSW are very safe places to walk, apart from leeches in the wet season when you always carry some salt or a box of matches. Most of the deadly creatures live in the dry woodland areas or in the forests of Far North Queensland. Where the light does break through it can be very beautiful
Much of our fear comes from perceived threats, either from misconceptions or erroneous information, which may never be realized. When we have a guide or someone who is familiar with the forest we feel safe and can enjoy the experience. Fear is our biggest enemy in life as much as it is our greatest protection from choosing to endanger ourselves. As I am quoted saying Fear Freezes and Faith Forwards. To navigate life safely and wisely we need the best kind of advice, encouragement and assistance we can get. The best is from our manufacturer, the Author of Life himself in the Bible. Also my published books, which though they never mention God at all, contain the wisdom and help needed to navigate a healthy and happy life: – emotionally, physically, socially and mentally. When it is all said, the proof is in the pudding.
“The honor of good people will lead them, but those who hurt others will be destroyed by their own false ways.” – Proverbs 11:3
“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” – Galations 6:7
or… ‘What goes around, comes around.’ which is highlighted and explained in my book “What Birds Teach Us” with the behaviour of the Pied Currawong.
Another beautiful still, warm, crisp, Autumn afternoon, so my wife and I made our way again to Mt Annan’s Australian Botanic Gardens in search of the elusive endangered Swift Parrot, as well as the very elusive Little Lorrikeet, which due to both its small size, green plumage and always feeding deep inside the very high eucalypt canopy away from the sun, make it one of the most difficult birds to photograph. Look carefully at this photo already 400x and find the Lorikeets. I highlighted two but there are others.
find the little lorikeets
The only detection factor for this bird and the Swift parrot when feeding is the bright markings around their beaks, otherwise they just look like leaves. Just to get a photo of these birds is challenging, so please take into account that these photos have had significant post production lighting to make the birds both visible and identifiable.
a pair of Little Lorikeet watching me
the pair flying off
deep inside the canopy on the dark side
Little Lorikeet feeding off eucalypt blossom
Little Lorikeet feeding off eucalypt blossom
small flock of Little Lorikeet
Little Lorikeet caught in flight
unusual to be out in the open alone
No other birders turned up this afternoon so it appears that the quest for the Swifties return has not occurred again this year, as the smoke from our horrific fires drove them away last year. One bird that was in large numbers at present was the White-naped Honeyeater feeding off lerps and being constantly harassed by the Bell Miners who have take possession of this cluster of trees. This tiny Honeyeater moves constantly licking lerps, and again is difficult to photograph in high eucalypts even in bright sunlight.
Here are the rascals that were harassing every other bird that came onto their turf, the Bell MIner, which I explained in my last post is responsible for the death of many of our beautiful eucalypt trees due to its possessive trait and feeding habit. The Spotted Pardolote were also being attacked, as per usual and even the Currawongs and Wattlebirds.
now you see it
Here is an interesting pose often seen in preening birds where they do the head disappearing trick.
now you see it
and now you don’t
Look carefully and you will see this Bell Miner about to pick off the lerps from the leaf with its beak. I have highlighted the leaf so you can see the dot of white lerps. Also notice how many of the leaves are damaged, which places the tree under stress. You might well ask how can such a small bird be responsible for the death of so many huge tall eucalypt trees and that’s why?
It was a lovely surprise to catch this lone Grey Fantail actually fan its tail for me.
The immature Olive-backed Oriole was present once more, posing for me.
A small flock of Red-browed Finch were sunning themselves in the bright sunlight and the sun illuminated their beaks, though they were over exposed.
One bird which I always love seeing and always come close to look me over is the Eastern Yellow Robin, our most common coastal Robin. This bird is features on the covers of my new book, with photos of its various stages of development, as in the book it deals with the stages of life and Intentional Living through our Knowledge, Wisdom and Understanding years…
of which my favorite moment with this bird was when it landed in my hand and we both had about twenty seconds looking at one another. I had no food it just sat on my hand when I stretched it out for it, as you can see.
Now here is what I saw this time round, as he spent a minute just looking at me only several feet away…
Last of all, with no Swifties seen, was this female Variegated Fairy-wren. Unlike the Superb, the female has the blue tail similar to the male.
Have a wonderful week and enjoy the lovely weather of the changing seasons, as Winter approaches and the mornings get colder, but the says are crisp and clear.
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Compared with our usual birding outings this one was not as rewarding. I went out today alone on a day field trip and drove over 400 km to not only not find the birds I was expecting to find, but no blossom and no birds, it was astoundingly quiet for this place I visited. But for one good experience I had, on the trip, from an unexpected diversion, I did experience some disappointment, especially since I had invested a day, petrol and riding rough 4 WD tracks in search. Probably the one most significant contributing factor to our anger, grief and depression are our unfulfilled expectations. One of the problems is with our self centered natures. After our common ancestor Adam moved away from trusting his Creator to lead and care for him and decided to run his own life, his own way, he deceived himself thinking that he could be like God, and plan and order his life the way he wanted. This is why we get angry and upset when things do not work out the way we planned they should. Things we have no control over, like the Covid or the weather. We complain when we don’t get rain and we complain when it rains on our birding day out etc etc. Here is an interesting flow chart.
A man called Paul a follower of Jesus wrote these words while he was imprisoned for a no crime and without being tried: “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.I can do all this through him [faith in Jesus Christ] who gives me strength.” Philippians 4: 11-15 (NIV)
Contentment in life is the secret to true happiness and peace and is made possible from a true acceptance of our circumstances, based on a firm assurance that our our Creator is in control of our lives and is using everything in our life for or benefit and growth, be it seeming good or bad at the time. This is why this same Paul was also able to say.
“And we know that God causes everything to work togetherfor the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” – Romans 8:28 (NLT)
Last weekend my wife and I drove to Wagga Wagga to celebrate her birthday with her siblings who had congregated there, and catch up with extended family. As most of you are aware her sister lives on Lake Albert where we often go birding on our visits, for western birds not common to our area, of which there are few, especially during the present change of seasons and post heavy rains.
The main bird of interest was the Crimson Rosella of the yellow race, which was previously known as the Yellow Rosella, and rightly so, as there is very little crimson at all on the bird. I consider if you are going to change a name to group it with another it should at least look like the descriptive name. This beautiful bird is seen feeding from flowers in the bright morning sunshine on Resurrection morning. I love when it hangs upside down and looks at you.
Of course there are the usual waterbirds, but not many as the rise in water level meant the wetlands were difficult for waterbirds to feed on the weed below.
Australian Pelican resting in the morning sun
A pair of Australasian Wood Duck resting in the morning sun
The morning chorus always commences here with the resident Eastern Aussie Magpie clans calling in chorus to each other to remind each other of their territories and catch up on the latest news. We just sit on the verandah and take it all in.
This guy is listening for larvae which he can hear with his very acute hearing in the soil beneath the grass. This ability is taught to him as a youngster, and this food is a major source, which is another reason why we should not reed these wild birds. They actually protect our lawns from pests. These Crested Pigeons were also catching the morning sun as the morning begin to be cool.
Down by the lake the trees were buzzing with the sound of the Common Starling which breeds there. They do look quite beautiful iridescent in the sunlight.
Starlings resting in afternoon sun
This lone Red Wattlebird tried to join them but was not welcome by the clan.
As I walked around the lake I was pleasantly surprised to find this Grey Shrike-thrush under a bush foraging in the late afternoon light.
Also in the grass nearby as I sat on the grass and watched, was many Superb Fairy wren, hopping happily about close to the reeds, where they quickly find cover. Some were going through their first morph (coming out of eclipse to breeding plumage) as they can breed several times in a year, they are a very sexually active bird.
two young females exploring
the rear of the morphing male
Non breeding male
Feeding in the grass was this pair of Red-rumped Parrot, which we always see here. The male constantly checked that I was not a threat. Only the male has the red rump, the female has the green one. This bird can be mistaken for the Turquoise Parrot from a distance.
This Willy Wagtail, a true Aussie flycatcher, was busily communing with members of his family as I studied him.
This bird is features in my first book as a very brave little bird, which it is when nesting, and a bird that survives well because of this. It is amazing how effective this little bird is, as you might remember how it stands up to much larger birds which could eat it, such as the Magpie and Kookaburra.
Most of the day flocks of Galah constantly fed on the grass seed by the lake, which is normal custom for the Parrot family after Summer has passed and the grass has seeded.
One last western bird we always see here is the very tiny White-plumed Honeyeater, as it busily feeds on the flowers high on the canopy of the River Gums, as well as searches for available lerps.
Have a most enjoyable week and weekend !
If you have not done so yet check out my new book release Flight of a Fledgling and take advantage of the 2 book deal (Book 1 and Book 2) which is going for a short time. Both books are available on my website. Click on the picture below to go to the page.
All adults, and especially Young Adults and late teens, can benefit from this book and gain insights into the modern research on our amazing birds. Posted to your address. Thankfully for you overseas Followers, due to our current absences of the Covid, Australia is able to send to most all countries.
Lastly, I want to share an observation of my little mate ‘Butch’ the Grey Butcherbird who sings to me throughout the day. He decided to clean out our gutters on the garage, and found food there, including a skink. This caused me to later clean them out properly, as I did not realise till he threw out so much leaf litter, how clogged they were.
checking me watching
Butch with skink in beak
““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
As Aussiebirder I often get asked “What is your favorite bird?” and many get surprised when I tell them it is the Butcherbird. They become even more curious when they immediately go looking for it in my book and discover it was not included. Many of you who follow my blog know how my resident Butcherbird family, headed by Butch, make me smile and say “How beautiful !”, as they sing constantly through the day. Further up the coast where I lived much of my life, the Pied Butcherbird has one of the most amazing chimes, which would also delight me every morning.
Sydney and the north east coast of NSW has been pounded with rain, breaking all previous recorded records, creating state of emergency due to the extensive damage and loss of life caused by massive flooding of our big rivers. As this is occurring as I write this, I have not had an opportunity this week to leave my house, other than to shop in the very small windows when the rain was least intense so this week the Butcherbird family are featured.
Of the now five species of Butcherbird four are endemic to Australia. The Grey and Pied are the most common and are found over much of the continent, but only the Grey Butcherbird is present in Tasmania. The Black, Black-backed and Silver-backed are only found in the top end of Australia in Far North Queensland and northern parts of WA and NT. The Black-backed Butcherbird is also found in New Guinea. Of the five species we have only laid eyes on the three pictured above.
Juvenile Grey Butcherbird
As you can see from the profile of the juvenile Butcherbird, even from a young age, the large powerful hooked beak is a classic feature of this omnivorous bird, which mainly consumes small reptiles, birds and rodents as well as the odd insect and fruit. They derive their name from their unusual custom of hanging their prey like a butcher hangs his meat on a meat hook, usually in the fork of a tree or crevice or on broken branch for later consumption, like a butcher’s cool room. Though I personally have never seen one ever do this, this is how it apparently was named.
The male may also do this to impress a new mate and present her with food, to show he is a good provider and that he will feed her when she mounts the nest to incubate the eggs. The hooked beak is feature like raptors for tearing prey. Here are some immatures calling in the morning to their parent.
Butcherbirds usually have 2 to 3 nestlings each season. My father of our local Grey Butcherbird clan brings his juvenile youngsters to visit me and introduce them to our source of water and shade.
Butch growing up
The Butcherbird is one of Australia’s most musical songbirds, and can be heard all through the day calling with varied calls. At different times of year they will tend to use particular calls, but their laughing call delights me every time I hear it and makes me smile in my heart and give thanks for having the privilege of having this little clan so close. I can actually hear him laughing as I write this.
The Pied Butcherbird is not found around Sydney but is further up the coast. Listen to the melodious chimes of this bird, which are hauntingly beautiful in the early morning. These were the first sounds I would hear each morning when I lived in the country.
This immature Pied is practicing his song.
This is the Western race of the Pied Butcherbird which inhabits the desert regions and is more contrasting than our Eastern race. We saw this guy at Uluru in the red centre.
The Black Butcherbird we only see on our trips to Far North Queensland. It is all black, and has its own peculiar call but not as melodious as the other two. When we first heard it calling we initially thought it was the Orange-footed Scrubfowl which lives up there also as it sounded similar. When we could not find it after looking low in the scrub we looked up and found it was a pair of Butcherbirds, but they were very shy.
We would see this juvenile each morning sitting out near our open air dining area.
juvenile Black Butcherbird
It is hard to believe that as the juvenile develops it will one day turn black when it matures.
Black Butcherbird immature
This little guy had found something but not sure what.
Have a wonderful week. We are all recovering from the heaviest week of rain ever experienced on the east coast of Australia, with extensive destructive flooding which continues even today on a clear blue sky, as the rivers continue to rise. We had the drought, then the fires and smoke, then the Covid, and just when were starting to get back to normal, the flooding rains… this is Australia.
Click on the pic below to see some news footage from Channel 9, of a man saving his pet Emu from the flood waters:
“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” – Job 12: 7-10 (NIV)
Last weekend my wife and I spent a few days in the Newcastle area to celebrate our wedding anniversary and have some birding time together, as well as birding time out walking and birding with my eldest son and his boys. One of the places we love to visit when there is the Walka Water Works near Maitland which seldom disappoints us, especially during Spring-Summer months.
the meaning of Walka
bird signs along the track
This old steam driven water pumping station has long been decommissioned and now used as a museum and function centre. The man made lake is home to many waterbirds, and surrounding forest around it houses many passerines. The walk around the lake is always a delight as you never know what you might see. As we were about to commence our walk this flock of Corella were spooked and took off in flock.
The bird we were most wanting to see on the lake was the Great Crested Grebe, with its young. The last time we were here in Spring we saw the mating dance as well as very young juveniles being carried on the backs of the father Grebe. I figured that on this late Summer visit we would see the next stage of juvenile development, and we did.
Several families were present and the young were at various stages of maturity.
Surprising as it is the grey striping on white does camouflage the babies from the air, where their main predator will come from. This lake, surrounded by grassed flood plain is an ideal raptor hunting area, and guess what the next bird that came over head was?… The majestic Wedge-tailed Eagle, our largest eagle, with a wingspan of about 2.3 meters (7.5′). I was so pleased that it came overhead to examine us.
As it soared away from us it was suddenly in pursuit by what appeared to be a Magpie, but due to the intense back-lighting of the clouds was difficult to confirm. Wedgies are often chased by brave smaller birds, displaying their commitment to their family’s safety. This cat and mouse chase went on for several minutes, as the eagle soared up higher and higher making it more difficult for its assailant.
Later we found the pair of Wedgies working a paddock nearby and swiftly left when their keen eyesight spotted us watching.
Wedgie pair leaving
Walking along the track we saw an amazing little incident with two Red-browed Finches. It appeared that the male was presenting the grass seed gift as a wedding ring followed by an acceptance and immediate mating. At first he mounted for a few seconds and now sexual contact was made, and then he mounted again and for several seconds there was intense movement as he watched the face of his partner. The movement helped to blur the photo. Then it was all over and he is left holding the grass. The female has a slightly narrower supercilium than the male. Now there is a word to explore!
First bring a grass seed gift to the female
Wait for it to be received
Mount the female like so
Proceed to mate watching to see she is OK
There that’s your sex education done
Walking further along we were charmed by the beautiful chime of the Pied Butcherbird, one of my favorite bird calls which brings back memories of living on my property years ago. He did get a little worried at one stage when a pair of Musk Lorikeets flew toward him.
Rapidly moving Grey Fantails, Silvereye and Yellow Thornbill were flying with an MFF (Mixed Feeding Flock).
We just caught a glimpse of a White-bellied Sea Eagle before it escaped our view, after it had just passed over the lake.
White-bellied Sea Eagle escaping us
It was surprising to also see a Spangled Drongo. These birds are usually found alone and migrate south from northern Queensland during Summer months, though usually not this far south. The fish tail is always a help in identifying it.
Just then we had another raptor moment when a Whistling Kite came over with a youngster in tow. Notice the adult always flies above the juvenile to make sure it is safe and not getting into mischief.
A pair of Hardheads cruised together on the water. The male has the white eye. A parent Dusky Moorhen was taking her two youngsters out for a cruise also, as a Little White Cormorant flew bye and a pair of Little Black Cormorant also were out together for a cruise.
Little Black Cormorant
Little Pied Cormorant
After an enjoyable walk we made our way back to our accommodation, checking out Ash Island Wetlands on the way. We found most of the birds had left after the rains and as usual my wife prayed the prayer “What have you got for us here Lord?” as we were leaving, a large unusual bird with a long tail ran with head down across the road in front of the car, flying to a nearby tree some distance from the road with prey in mouth. It was a Pheasant Coucal a rare bird not usually seen here. We tried to get a better view but it hid in a Casuarina tree.
What a great way to finish an anniversary birding date. We were very grateful for a wonderful day out.
May you all have a wonderful week and get opportunities to get out and about. We are enjoying over 50 days virus free in our state and pray it continues as restrictions slowly lift. My new book is almost at the printing stage, looking at a possible April release, similar to last year.
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The Noisy Miner is one of the most aggressive bully birds in Australia, the cause of much stress, occasional deaths and nesting failures among many small birds. Above my friend Noisy leads his little coalition against my friend Butch, the father Grey Butcherbird who also frequents our birdbaths with his family. My second edition of “What Birds Teach Us” assists children to deal with bullies such as these. Occasionally the Miners will attempt to gang up and mob Butch or his family if he is too close to a nest, but Butch in this case is just ignoring them as he looks for insects in a Bottlebrush tree next door to us. Later he calls from the inside the other side of the tree after they left and could not find him.
Both these species provide a service to us. The Butcherbird sings and chuckles all day to me which I thoroughly enjoy and makes me smile inside and give thanks, while the bold Miners protect our yard continually from intruding vagrant, non native pest birds with their vigilant aggressive stance. We care for them both, though people would wonder why.
It is good to maintain a balance in relationships and show no partiality, accepting the person for who they are with a non judgmental attitude. If it is possible retain friendships with all people by showing respect, acceptance and understanding. We must however be careful to not take sides or enter into conversation that favors one side over the other, but simply listen and show empathy. If the person shows disrespect because you are friends with their opponent, step back and do not continue, but let them know you care and show no partiality for both parties. It does not mean you condone any inappropriate behaviour, or agree with it, but instead respect them and try to understand why they are doing what they do. You can only do this by developing a relationship, and spending time. It is in this context that we can be an instrument of positive change and healing to another person. We can eventually help them understand why they do what they do as they respond to our friendship and eventually trust us enough to share from their heart.
“Hatred stirs up conflict, but lovecovers over all wrongs.” – Proverbs 10:12 (NIV)
“Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.” – James 3:18
“Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife.” – Proverbs 17:1
Above my female (left) and alpha male (right) Australian Magpies give thanks as they carol by our birdbaths, as they do each morning in appreciation.
Last week I featured most of Australia’s majestic daytime raptors, and this week I will showcase but five of our ten Owls. The reason I have so few is that we do not go night birding and my collection is of birds seen during the daytime usually resting deep inside trees out of general sight. The Owl takes over at night while the Eagles, Kites, Falcons, Harriers, Kestrels etc. sleep, continuing to prey on small birds and animals. These kings of the night have some different characteristics to their daytime cousins, but first lets list features in common which they share.
Let’s use the Barking Owlpictured above as an example, to list the similar defining features of a raptor:
⇒ Superior Eyesight with binocular telescopic vision
⇒ Hooked beak for tearing flesh (swallows prey in pieces)
⇒ Powerful Legs and Talons used to kill and carry prey
⇒ Large powerful wings
⇒ Nests in tree hollows
⇒ Tactically hunts its prey consisting of birds, small animals and reptiles.
Let’s now list the differences that intelligent design has granted this killing machine:
⇒ They have large eyes able to see in very dim light. The large retina has many more light receptors but is unable to see in total darkness.
⇒ They do not ride the thermals and generally do not hunt by day but hunt by night and sleep by day.
⇒ They generally sit and wait for their prey to come near to them and do not fly or hover searching for their prey.
⇒ They have extra soft feathers which allow them to take off and fly silently, enabling them to successfully stalk their prey.
⇒ They can rotate their head 180° without moving their body to observe surroundings.
Some may have wondered why it is called the Barking Owl, well…
It makes a barking like sound as you can hear. This one was seen at a Raptor Bird Show, and is a common inhabitant of the eastern Australian mainland.
The largest Owl in Australia is the Powerful Owl, which nests in several places near where I live. It is found along the east coast of NSW and Victoria, This owl lives up to its name and will feed on domestic and ferule cats, but mainly enjoys various species of Australian possums, as you can see below body remains of the previous night’s kill hanging from the talon. They eat the head of the animal and then display the remainder of their kill into the next day. He may give his partner some of the kill later, but they both catch some shut eye for now.
Powerful Owl male displaying last nights kill
The owls help to keep the possum population under control, however, when the possum was introduced to New Zealand, the numbers exploded causing major concern as they did not have a natural predator. But they found a good use for their pelts which do make very warm gloves and winter attire. It makes up most of New Zealand’s roadkill. The owls sometimes wonder what the fuss is below and take a look:
Owls are known to return to the same tree each morning to rest until the hunting pickings become too slim or their privacy is challenged and they will move to another nearby park or forest.
I remember the first time my wife and I sighted a family of Powerful Owl resting high up in a tall eucalypt well away from anyone. We saw the two juvenile looking at us and I said to my wife “Hey, there looks to be 2 Meerkats in the tree looking at me !” We saw the parents sleeping in a nearby tree well out of sight.
Another more commonly seen owl in our local parks is the Southern Boobook which again I have only seen in daylight, usually sleeping inside a tree hollow or perched nearby it as it prepares to go hunting in the evening. This owl is found all over the mainland and also Tasmania. I have lightened up the photo so you can see the bird in the tree hollow. Passers by have no idea it was there. When they look into the hollow all they see is darkness. A few weeks after this photo a swam of native bees took over the hollow and Mr Boobook was gone. In my next book I will use this bird to demonstrate the importance of shedding light on our understanding and improving our perception. One of the fine points of recent digital camera sensors is the much higher ISO (light sensitivity) settings now possible.
I always find Owls difficult to get good photos of in the wild and have to doctor up my photos. As a rule I do not use flash on birds as I respect their well being, especially night birds which can suffer blindness for days, though I know of some photographers rather than bird lovers, that use flash at night on birds to get that perfect photo. Many Penguins die for the same reason, blinded by the light and unable to find their way safely to their burrow.
Another very common Owl, probably the most common both all over Australia and world wide, as it is an introduced species, is the Barn Owl. I can remember when I lived out in the country up north on my rural property walking to the neighbour’s gate to pay a visit at night and as I go to open the gate I get this shock as this brilliant white object flies off the gate almost into my face off into the night with barely a sound.
This is the only Owl featured in my book “What Birds Teach Us” as the very last bird and was only included at that stage because a dear friend said her niece loved owls so I needed one. I would include the Powerful Owl if I were to do a 3rd Edition. This is the famous wise poem, by an unknown author, which I quote as my book’s last word:
A wise old owl sat in an oak, The more he heard, the less he spoke; The less he spoke, the more he heard; Why aren’t we all like that wise old bird?
The above photo will be familiar to those who have my book as the Owl flies from its nesting hole.
Our last Owl is one of Australia’s less seen and rarer Owls found only in far northern Australia and in the Queensland rainforests. We were blessed to see this pair of Rufous Owls resting in a very tall native fig tree in one of the residential parks in Cairns. They were extremely high up and hidden from the light as our photos show, having to have some post production work. We just happened to meet a local birder who knew exactly where these birds were otherwise there was no way anyone could have found them.
The male, as also with the Powerful Owl, is larger than the female and seen usually hanging its prey as in the above photos. It was a neck breaking experience to get these shots.
Female Rufous Owl in the light
Well that concludes our little Raptor stint, maybe one day I will see the others to share with you.
Have a wonderful weekend, we are going away for a few days to celebrate our wedding anniversary and may be do some birding along the way. Stay safe and do someone a random act of kindness each day, and notice the difference it makes.
Let’s take onboard the wisdom of the Owl as the poem above suggests. It is by watching and listening that we do most of our learning. As a male of the species I have learnt over the years and from my family counselling studies that the answer is not to necessarily solve our partners problems for her when she shares her heart, and give a quick fix, but to just shut-up and listen and empathize. Those who watch and observe are best scientists, inventors, leaders and politicians, not those who think they have all the answers and cut off and interrupt the sharer before the person finishes speaking. In my book the Superb Lyrebird was featured to share the qualities of active listening, but for the Owls it is how they get their food each night, a matter of life or death, as it is not safe to be flying through thick trees in the dark. As Epictetus is quoted: ‘We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak. ‘ He was a Greek philosopher who spent his youth as a slave in Rome before gaining freedom after the death of Nero, under whom he served until around 60 AD.
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quicktolisten, slow to speak and slow to become angry,” – James 1:19 (NIV)
Suffering Job addresses his so called friends as they accuse and give foolish advice when all he wanted was some compassion, empathy and understanding:
“If only you would be altogether silent! For you, that would be wisdom.” – Job 13:5
Wise King Solomon is quoted saying there is a time for everything under heaven:
“a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,” – Ecclesiastes 3:7
“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” – Proverbs 18:2