Posted in: Australia, Australian Birds, Australian wildlife, Bird watching, Birding, Birds, Fauna, Holidays, Magpie Goose, National Parks, Nature, Royal Spoonbill, Southern Queensland, Striped Honeyeater, Uncategorized, water birds, wetlands, wildlife. Tagged: Blue-faced Honeyeater, Brown Honeyeater, Brown Thornbill, Gold Coast, Gold Coast Hinterland, Magpie Goose, Noisy Friarbird, Pied Butcherbird, Royal Spoonbill, Rufous Whistler, Sacred Kingfisher, Striped Honeyeater. 5 Comments
Continueing our showcase of the Lamington Mountains National Park at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, Queensland, a question arose in my mind as to the legitimacy of feeding wild birds, and more so the need to tie their legs for show purposes.
Birds of Prey shows are becoming popular tourist draw cards in various tourist locations throughout Australia. It is the only place where one can come up close to flying raptors. Sadly they have leather shackles on their legs to remind them they are not free birds.
However cruel it may seem, many of these birds are rescued birds which have been restored to health by human kindness and incorporated into a live show, which in turn raises money to support the ongoing conservation work. This beautiful Wedge-tailed Eagle is Australia’s largest raptor having a wingspan of around 2.3 meters. From these photos you would think this was a wild free bird, but it is a shackled bird in captivity being monitored with a homing device. It is the highlight of the show, where for a price the you can have your photo taken holding the bird.
This Barking Owl can actually be heard barking, which is a delightful opportunity for any birder, especially to have it fly over your head and land right next to your feet, so close I am not able to focus my lens on it.
As you can see above, if I remove the hanging leather straps, you are unable to discern the difference from a wild bird to this captive creature. This Barn Owl is another example.
Listen to the presenter share about this Black Kite, a common Australian raptor, and how they came to own it.
The most popular feature of the O’Reilly’s rainforest experience is to actually feed the wild birds by hand. Birds that are otherwise extremely rare and shy to humans in most other locations in Australia. The Australian King Parrot is an example, especially the female bird is known to be very shy of humans. There are signs near the outdoor eating area of the cafe saying Do Not feed the birds. Many wild life conversationalists also advise it is not good practice to feed wild birds as they become dependent and also the quality of food offered my impair their health.
O’Reilly’s however have done their research and encourage their clients to use appropriate seed and fruit which they provide for this purpose.
There is still nothing more beautiful than to observe the birds in the wild, free and unshackled. Us birders appreciate this more than anything. It always amaizes me when I mention to my city acquaintances that my wife and I are bird watchers (birders) and they ask what birds we keep in cages, or they tell me of the birds they have cooped up in cages at home, thinking this is something we would appreciate. No we do not like to see birds in cages, but there are times, when they are sick or injured, when the cage is the safest place for them until they fully recover.
As you can see in the following photos the difference between the two camps with the Eastern Crimson Rosella, also found in great number at O’Reillys.
As a known birder I have heard so many stories of people feeding wild birds that visit their homes, and how they even let them come inside the house on a regular basis. The usual outcome is that the birds mess up their homes, become quite demanding and hostile if they do not get what they regularly have been receiving at the hands of their human hosts. I have heard of complete timber verandas on houses being literally chewed to pieces by a flock of angry Sulfur-crested Cockatoos. My blogger friend from Queensland hosting MyWildAustralia
blog is visited daily by many birds including Rainbow Lorikeets. See how in this link to one of her posts that the birds find shelter out of the rain, however you can imagine the mess they may make also. Sue loves her many different wild life varieties that visit her back yard and has enjoyed caring for them, but has always valued their freedom. Here is the arm of aussiebirder feeding a female, or more likely an immature male Australian King Parrot, the female is a bird which always has eluded him in the wild of getting a good photo due to their timidity.
What ever our convictions, there are both pros and cons for feeding wild birds and keeping wild birds in captivity. You will remember my posts praising the Taronga Park Zoo in Sydney for their conservation project to breed the endangered Regent Honeyeater in captivity for release into the wild, due to their depleting numbers and erratic breeding and feeding problems.
What does this teach us about life. We can sometimes make a global judgement on a particular action people may undertake, but we need to understand that their are exceptions to every process, which instead of bringing harm or apparent selfish outcomes, could be for the benefit of the species concerned. Each situation has to be weighed up on its own merits.
Check out the new addition to my Home Page – see the nesting Tawny Frogmouths in the Royal National Park.
Christmas is just around the corner and what better gift could you give than a gift that encourages and keeps on giving wisdom and understanding for life through our beautiful Australian birds. All photos, some very rare, are aussiebirders work, as is the text, a legacy to his grandies. The book is very reasonably priced and sells for much more in shops and book stores throughout Australia. You can get yours online from my BirdBook page. Two people bought theirs on recommendation from a friend this week. Have a wonderful weekend!
“But it is the spirit in a person, the breath of the Almighty, that gives them understanding.” – Job 32:8
“For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” – Prov 2:6
“Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding.” – Prov 3:13
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!
It has been a busy week working full time back in my scientist role in Immuno-Haematology, so my wife and I have not been out birding as much, which is unusual for us. Lord Howe Island is one of our favorite birding places so I thought to highlight some of the birds from there, and highly recommend you visit there one day.
One unique bird only found on this island is the Lord Howe Island Woodhen, which almost became extinct because European settlers found it so easy to kill for food, as it was flightless. Notice these birds are banded on their legs. Click on photos to enlarge them.
Unbanded birds, such as the one below, are young ones born in the last two years which have eluded the banding program, but will eventually be banded to mark their progress. The woodhen is classified in the rail family.
They are generally very quiet birds, making their own unique sound, foraging in the undergrowth for insects and small figs which have fallen to the ground.
Lord Howe Island is famous for its huge banyan trees (Ficus macrophylla columnaris) which send out roots from its branches which grow into trunks of the trees. A single tree may spread itself over acres of land. These provide fruit for many birds. It is related to our Moreton Bay fig, the largest Australian fig tree.
Another common bird seen foraging here is the Buff-banded Rail, here was a magic moment seeing this young rail learning to forage with its mother. This species was sighted by us in Sydney Park in my last post.
The rails are quite tame and can be seen all over the island grazing.
One of the feature birds that many come to the island to see are found in the Norfolk Pines along the coast of Lagoon Beach, the beautiful White Tern. This bird lays its egg on the branch of the pine tree, without a nest being constructed. Amazingly the eggs balances there until hatched, but is an open target for marauding Currawongs, which these birds continually are on the lookout for.
My wife had the delight of actually feeding a young White Tern chick from her hand, which was being cared for by an islander, as it had lost its parent. Here you can see the parents caring for their single chick, as well as this special photo I caught of a parent with three small fish in its beak to feed to it baby, carrying them in a similar way to the Puffins.
However, the most sought after bird that birders like myself and my wife, come here to see is aussiebirder’s logo (avatar) bird, the Red-tailed Tropicbird. As many of you know this is the bird that drew me into birding, away from nature photography, with its amazing flight gymnastics and the ability to fly backwards when courting its mate. They can be seen flying effortlessly and endlessly over the cliffs on the northern side of the island on Malabar hill, where you can here the chicks squeaking below.
Their red tail plumes assist their flight acrobatics, and their black feet contrast to their pure white feathers. This is one of the few places you will see these birds, Lady Elliot Island is another. They inhabit the rugged sea cliffs of the islands off the north east coast of NSW and Queensland.
The beautiful Emerald Dove is also common here.
As is the very vocal and cheerful Lord Howe Island race of the Golden Whistler (race contempta), recently reclassified and differentiated from pectoris found on NSW east coast. This bird can be heard all over the island during Spring and Summer.
Another bird only seen here is the Lord Howe Island White-Eye, which is a cousin to our Silvereye. Note how tiny they are compared to the leaves. One can be seen eating a ripe fig.
Lord Howe Island is blessed as a breeding ground for many seabirds and waders, and this is another plus for visiting this beautiful island. One such bird which breeds on the island is the Masked Booby. Here on Mutton Bird Point they have their many nests. If you look carefully you may see one or two of their young chicks.
The Black Noddy and Common (Brown) Noddy, have a large nesting area on the north side of the island in the pine trees. They become quite agitated if you get too close. We had a guided tour by one of the islands most celebrated ornithologists Ian Hutton. Similar to the White Tern, they must guard their eggs and young from marauding Currawong and raptors, such as Masked Owls which are now thriving there.
One of my favorite birds which we saw nesting there on the beach near the airstrip was the Sooty Tern. I love the way this bird hovers close by out of curiosity. here are some of the parents witheir spotted juveniles on the beach among the blue grass.
You will see many signs around the island similar to these. Though there are not many cars and trucks. Most tourists use bicycles or walk.
Yes Lord Howe Island is a major nesting area for several species of Shearwater or Muttonbirds as some call them, they say they taste like mutton. The Flesh-footed Shearwater is the most common, and can be seen landing at dusk and waddling into its underground nests. If you are in their nesting area say near Ned’s Beach you need to be careful they do not land on you at night.
This Sacred Kingfisher is seen near the airstrip.
Many species of wader and shorebirds can be seen here two of which we saw many were the Ruddy Turnstone, Pacific Golden Plover and the Bar-tailed Godwit.
Lastly, this fungi is a classic inhabitant of the moist Banyan forests of Lord Howe Island . Fungi spores thrive with moisture and lack of direct sunlight. It was thought that these fungal spores were spread by gusts of wind, but more recent research shows that the mushrooms and fungi actually produce their own wind source to disperse their spores and reproduce elsewhere. How amazing is that!
“To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his.” – Job 12:13
Enjoy your week ahead!
Check out my page on Info Tips for birding in Australia, it also has links to useful resources and links.
If you think you need some spiritual encouragement for a more peaceful and enjoyable life, check out my Birder Sanctuary page.
If you are looking for help in improving life skills and want simple answers for counselling yourself in making good life decisions, or want to encourage your child to do the same, check out my book “What Birds Teach Us” . It is selling well in many book and gift shops because it is so unique, using our birds to teach important life skills in a non confronting manner. You will love the photos and what you will learn. Purchase your copy here online securely through PayPal, at a much cheaper rate as many have done already.
If you are going through a tough time in life at present and suffering from it, check out my Suffering page which was recently dedicated to a blogging birder friend in Florida.
Sydney is an amazing city for bird life. Not only is it surrounded by several national parks it has several wetland lakes and pond areas right in its heart. One being the Sydney Park Wetlands which was a jointly funded project of Sydney City Council and the Federal Government to convert a large area of land which once hosted a huge brickworks, of which only remains the historical relic of the original chimney stacks and brick kilns.
The large acreage of the clay extraction area, later becoming a rubbish tip. It is amazing to see the beautiful transformation into large grassed recreational areas, small forests of trees, flowing water features, water controlled wetland and reeded areas, gardens, bridges and walking tracks. This unique project to recycle rainwater, clean it and use it in the man made ponds and creek structures from where it is released back into the environment is an experiment which may be expanded in the future to even more sustainable projects on a larger scale.
Many water birds and waders have made Sydney Park their home, and breeding areas are fenced off for their protection, as many hundreds of people frequent this place sharing it as they walk their dogs and introduce their children to many bird species. Wahen my wife and I recently visited the park our first bird encountered was this beautiful Olive -backed Oriole, recently returned from migration, giving me unusual free photographic access as he watched.
On the large northern lake several species of waterbirds swam or strutted the waters edge.
Of course there were many Eurasian Coot, Pacific Black Duck , some Chestnut Teal, Purple Swamphen and Dusky Moorhen which are not pictured here. Breading pairs of Australasian Grebe were present with full breeding plumage.
Flitting and swirving about over the water of course was the usual Welcome Swallows as they pluck insects from the air on the fly. However, I caught them resting on their flight break.
However, the greatest attraction drawer was the single swan gosling of the two proud Australian Black Swan parents, carefully and lovingly guarded it from the other sometimes aggressive waterbirds such as the Eurasian Coot, which has become like the Noisy Miner of our lakes. Notice how the parents surround the baby near the coots. There normally have a clutch of about 5 to 10 chicks, so maybe they have lost some already from predators etc. This little guy will experience several plumage changes as it matures before it finally becomes adult black, which makes it easy to determine the approximate age of the young swan.
Other features of the park were this tortoise sunning itself and the eucalypt flowers of spring. This Brown Wanderer butterfly was an additional capture.
Our greatest find here was the result of a search for a very elusive and rarely seen wetland shore bird which was sited here recently Latham’s Snipe, which would have been a lifer for me. However, as I kept looking into the reeds and grassed wetlands I finally did see a bird dart undercover, so my wife and I patiently waited for about 20 minutes and we finally saw a bird similar to Latham’s Snipe but more colourful, a Buff-banded Rail. It was a challenge to track its movement among the grasses and reeds, but I did get some reasonable shots.
So there it is for now, as we await the return in the coming weeks of our migratory waders from the northern hemisphere. We are also seeing reports of the return of the passerine migrants, including the cuckoos who will be breeding here soon. This week our hearts and prayers go out to our dear suffering blogger friends in Florida, that the Lord will have spared you from much of the damage and danger of the recent hurricane.
“You, Lord, are forgiving and good,
abounding in love to all who call to you.
Hear my prayer, Lord;
listen to my cry for mercy.
When I am in distress, I call to you,
because you answer me.” – Psalm 86:5-7
Have a great week and enjoy the birds!
Last Sunday afternoon on the third day of Spring my wife and I had a lovely walk into the Royal National Park, Audley to see and hear the sounds of Spring. Spring wildflowers had bloomed earlier than usual, and many were even finishing flowering. The real sound of Spring for me in an Australian forest, in particular the Royal NP, is the call of the male Golden Whistler, seeking out a female to court and mate with. Click photo to enlarge it.
All winter we would see both male and female but rarely hear a sound from them. But what a delight to hear several males calling along the track as they did last summer. Here is a sample of what I heard, and what is the call seeking the female. When I resounded its call back to the bird it came close to check it out to give me these pictures. We heard at least three singing their hearts out along the track, each in its own territory.
Other signs of Spring were the interesting wild flowers as well as the Cabbage Tree Palm flowers. Cabbage Tree Palms are a feature of the coastal rainforests.
As we sat in the a clearing in the rainforest we were blessed by the appearance of a single Top-knot Pigeon, a most unusual looking bird, on lookout at the top of a tall eucalypt. Suddenly he flew off to join a flock of about thirty others silently flying off deeper into the forest in search of native fruits.
The sound and appearance of the Yellow-faced Honeyeater, our most vocal Winter bird was still heard calling, but not as much, and now not so many birds.
My wife sighted this White-throated Treecreeper climbing a tree. The orange spot on its cheek identifies it as a female. It may be the same bird I saw a few weeks ago. These birds make a classic repetitive call as they ascend a tree. They can hang upside down without any difficulty as they pry under the bark for insects and worms.
We neither saw nor heard any Lyrebirds on our walk as many people had been walking the track during the day, but we did see the now resident and recently breeding Crested Shrike-tit, which I recently also featured from the same area. This bird comes packed with a very strong beak for a small bird. It is often difficult to see high in the eucalypts, but easily gives away its position by the sound of falling bark and foraging which is usually quite audible. It was difficult due to the height of the bird to get ideal shots.
One photo which I did not realise I had captured till at home was this very juvenile Crested Shrike-tit having a moment with its parent. It was a one off gem of a shot, as the juveniles are seldom photographed, as much as the immatures. The juveniles have no black or white markings but are chicken yellow.
We did not see much else, but this female Superb Fairy-wren posed for me, so I could not resist a few portrates.
At this time our prayers and thoughts are with our dear blogging friends in Florida as they prepare for the wild fury a hurricane. We hope they are able to evacuate safely, and that their damage is very minimal. My closing thought comes from this angophora branch, how amazing that it grows with this bend in it. We might ask why or how?
Like many things in life we ask why or how but there may be no answers known. Men and women try to postulate answers, out of the pride of the heart many would be scientists postulate that ‘science’ knows all, but not all that is called ‘science’ is science’ as the definition of science is the observation and study of our universe. It deals with facts which can be observed and tested and then attested to be true, not philosophical postulations that proud men who call themselves scientists make to convince the unsuspecting trusting common person believe their philosophical ideas are scientific fact. Many things remain unanswered and unexplained, and may remain so forever, simply because there was no one there at the time in history to observe or record their experiences. Many scientists have turned to God in the last 40 years, simply from the conviction their own studies have brought, of the Intelligent Design and the very evident Created Order which any intelligent being can not ignore. Check out my school teaching video for more on this issue, if you have not done so yet.
“ For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools…They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.” – Romans 1:21,22,25
Have a great week Birding!