With further lifting of restrictions in our state, my wife and I decided to enjoy 2 birding dates in the one weekend, where our main focus was on freshwater birds. I had prepared the night before having just launched my new promo video for my book with the help and expertise of my son David, who works as an editor for a Sydney TV station. You can view the new promo here.
Leaving early Friday morning we arrived at Leura in the Blue Mountains for breakfast which we thoroughly enjoyed and now recommend Leura Cafe. The service was excellent and very caring, which reflected their boss. My wife enjoyed it so much she took the above photo. They complied strictly to the Covid rules, unlike some of the other shops in town. I had planned to also engage 2 new booksellers in the Blue Mountains region west of Sydney, while we passed through to Lake Wallace. You can see why they call them the BLUE Mountains. The blue haze is created by the eucalyptus vapour from the millions of eucalypt trees in the mountains.
how blue are these mountains
Fire damaged forest
sheer rising walls of stone
Evidence of the recent horrific bushfires is seen in the centre photo above way down in the Grose Valley. I managed to plant my book in one bookshop in Lithgow and a clothing boutique in Blackheath. I already have established markets in other towns nearby there.
Musk Duck male
Musk Duck female
Musk Duck female
Musk Duck immature
Musk Duck male
Musk Duck (mum and 2 kids)
Musk Duck immature x 2
2 immature Musk Duck
Musk Duck male tail submerging
Musk Duck tail submerging
The Blue-billed Ducks we usually see here were not found, but a Musk Duck family were there Dad, Mum and 2 kids. Blue-bills are often found with their Musk cousins, in fact the females of both species look almost identical. These are one of the most difficult birds to photograph due to their black shiny plumage. Similar to the Blue-bills, they are a diving duck which spend almost all their life on water, sleeping afloat also. Their body lies low in the water. The male has a very unique flesh protrusion hanging from his throat. He gets his name from the musk like odour he emits to attract the female.
The only other waterbird was this Great Crested Grebe, alone far out on the lake. Another bird who lies low in the water.
Also we saw the usual Australian Swamphen and occasional Dusky Moorhen.
Of the passerines an adult male Australian Magpie and his two youngsters came begging when my wife and I sat by the lake to have our morning coffee and Anzac bickies, I had baked the day before. They were soon joined by an aggressive Red Wattlebird who also wanted a piece of the action.
Other small passerines included Fairy-wrens and this White-browed Scrubwren.
Last of all this Galah
Afterwards we drove back to Leura for lunch (a gourmet pie from the bakery) and shopping, then off home. Another wonderful birding date enjoyed, for which we were truly thankful. I will share our following Birding Date next week.
I have recently established an aussiebirder YouTube channel where you can view videos such as the one above. You might like to subscribe. It is in its early stages as I add more to it. The above video displays the amazing provision that our Creator has provided for the birds through Intelligent Design.
Have a wonderful relaxing weekend and Stay Safe!
W. A. Hewson (Adv. Dip. Counselling & Family Therapy).
You may have wondered why the Red-tailed Tropicbird is used as my avatar and brand for aussiebirder.com. This was the bird that captured my attention and drew me away from nature photography to a love of birds. It was not the visual aspect (photographics) that so much attracted me, though important as it is, but the behavioural characteristics, that brought my admiration for this bird.
Lord Howe Island viewed from Malabar headland
I traveled to Lord Howe Island years ago, specifically to find this elusive bird which is only found soaring above inaccessible sea cliffs around the islands of Australia and the Pacific.
It was the assertion that these birds were able to fly backwards when performing their courting ritual that caused me to seek out ‘the backward flying bird’. It is the way these birds continuously effortlessly soar over the cliff faces for hours on the breeze, performing occasional aerial acrobatic that attracts me to them. Their red streamer (tail extension) assists them in their acrobatic skills.
We always get excited when we see them. They do not appear to be feeding or busy like other birds, they just enjoy soaring like eagles on the thermals and playing as they use their unique ‘butterfly flight’. This makes them very difficult to capture on movie as you can see below.
The Tropicbird feeds mainly on flying fish which it catches in the air, and can dive from 50 metres directly into the ocean to catch fish or squid also so food is always on tap. It does not build a nest but nests openly beneath pine trees on cliff edges or inside caves which are usually inaccessible to humans. Visitors to the islands often mistaken these birds for gulls as they only see them from a distance, but their black feet and black facial mark set them apart which a birder would detect.
I have always been a creative person, and enjoyed exploring different means of creative expression, like these birds. It is good to accept who I am and enjoy being uniquely different. Being uniquely me as I was created to be, and not trying to be someone else. This week I would like to share another aspect of my creativity which you may have noticed as the musical backing to many of my video clips used on the website. Today in this time when we are restricted to our homes, and our National Parks are locked up I will share some of my music. Please bare in mind that I am not a trained musician, do not read from music, but play by ear. These tracks are all recorded on my computer. You may remember hearing this backing I called New Beginnings:
I track the background and then overlap the lead later. Experimenting with nature sounds, such as the sounds of a wetlands at night I composed this one called Sounds of the Night:
Another concept I used for my DVD set The Beautiful Series which was produced six years ago and now unavailable was to use bird call backing, waterfall backing and ocean backing to complement my sound. It is quite astounding that the many people who have commented on my music, as unprofessional as it is, have all used the same descriptive word soothing to describe it. Here is some backing used for previous posts. Because the clip is short the lead does not occur.
As some of you are aware I do like playing blues, a love from my past. There are occasions where this fits in nicely also.
I also enjoy creating encouraging clips for Facebook and my website homepage. Here is an example using water and bird calls together. I am currently creating new productions.
Lastly, Here is me unplugged playing the popular tunes of the past which are not my own but have my bluesy touch to them. Here is a few. Please remember these are played off the cuff without preparation, so the odd strange note or two my occur.
The House of the Rising Sun (recorded by the Animals in 1964) was one of my favorite songs we did through the years.
Cotton Fields ( first recorded by Lead Belly in 1940 and later by Creedence CWR in 1969) another fav from the old days.
What a Wonderful World is another (recorded by Louis Armstrong 1967 and written for him by Bob Thiele and David Weiss to assist in integration of race in America. They thought Louis was a great ambassador for this purpose). I love this song and I love his bluesy voice singing it.
Anyway, if you are locked up at home like me in isolation maybe these tunes will help soothe, as one famous quote says: music soothes the savage beast. which was a misquote of William Concreve’s 1697 line: music hath charms to sooth a savage breast. This is why Music Therapy has become a new form of therapy in medicine used in hospitals, while waiting on phones and in shopping centres to help soothe reduce aggression, fear and ease suffering. We all use music as a therapy at times when alone or when we need a pickup. Like our choice of food and acquaintances, music choices are important and can subconsciously lift us up or press us down creating anxiety, sadness and stress. We need to filter what we hear. Too many people today just listen to whatever, because they are told it is popular, the latest or because a radio station has chosen it for them, without realising its hidden impact. We were created to sing and enjoy song and music, and worship our Creator joyfully (a word used many times in the Bible in relation to worship) with music and song, as this is not only encouraging but holds a positive health benefit also, strengthening our immune system and lifting our emotional state. So when circumstances like the present are causing you to feel gloomy, frustrated or sad, joyful music and song with positive lyrics may be therapeutic. Music is the language known by all peoples. My blogger friend David from BirdsAsPoetry blog shared this video in a recent blog post which speaks of the unifying common thread that music has across the world. If you like blues and soul you will love it.
“David told the leaders of the Levites to appoint their fellow Levites as musicians to make a joyful sound with musical instruments: lyres, harps and cymbals.” – 1 Kings 10:12
“Worship the Lord with gladness; comebefore him with joyful songs.” – Psalm 100:2
“Sing and makemusic from your heart to the Lord,” – Ephesians 5:19 (NIV)
Enjoy your week ! Stay Safe! We continue to enjoy our staycation this week and my wife and I have had a very peaceful time cleaning out clutter from the past and just enjoying the peace and quiet around us, as well as each other’s company.
My Mission: To encourage young people to make good life choices, using birds to teach important life skills.
W. A. Hewson (Adv. Dip. Counselling & Family Therapy).