Varied Sittella (male)
Last Monday on the public holiday, my wife and I had a birding date revisiting Bushell’s Lagoon in search of the Bittern again and to film Pink-eared Ducks vortexing for food. Surprisingly, both were not present, but got to chat to some birders where we exchanged tips and sightings. Click on photos to enlarge.
Birders focused at Bushells Lagoon wetlands
more of the extensive wetland where the Bittern usually is found.
The Blue-green algae blooms are gradually overtaking the wetland due to the drought and warmer than usual winter weather, which is limiting the area usable by the water birds.
On arrival, my best shots were taken unexpectedly from my car window before alighting, as a couple of Golden-headed Cisticola, non-breeding, came to check me out on perched on the rusty barbed-wire fence next to my car. Such little cuties!
The usual Great and Intermediate Egrets were present as was the White-faced Heron, in addition the unexpected flock of Cattle Egrets resting across the lake.
Cattle Egret flock
Cattle Egrets in flight
It was lovely to see this family of Australasian Swamphen caring for their one and only surviving baby, which is unusual as they normally have a clutch of about 3-8 eggs.
Swamphen family on the move
Feeding Australasian Swamphen chick
Another sad story was to see this pair of Australian Black Swan who had recently, last week, had 4 cygnets and appears to be grieving their loss, as they are gone from the nest.
feeling their loss together
Having a wash
The main reason for these losses is the large number of raptors constantly screening this area for an easy feed. While we were there this Whistling Kite made a pass over.
Followed by an juvenile (1yo) White-bellied Sea-Eagle.
Followed by this Black-shouldered Kite which is often seen nearby. These raptors spend much of their time resting on the top of dead and live trees. The film clip shows this peculiar up and down tail action or ‘tail flip’ which is thought to warn other Kites that this their territory, and go look elsewhere, but there is no other raptor of the same species, but several of different species. The other interesting observation was to watch it hover over its prey, gradually dropping to a different level, with feet extended, till finally dropping on it, in the same way as the Nankeen Kestrel.
A birding acquaintance Edwin, pictured in above photo at Bushell’s Lagoon, tipped us off as to where the flock of Pink-eared Duck could be located on a dam nearby, so off we went. We found them but they were too far away for great shots and they were resting not feeding, as I had hoped.
After lunch at Windsor we made our way to Wianamatta Nature Reserve in search of the Red-capped Robin again. However, it also was not seen on this occasion. However, we did see several small birds hopping about on one particular tree foraging, and at first looked very much like a White-throated Treecreeper, as they do look alike, but the beak was not curved. We were delighted to unexpectedly, as is one of the highlights of birding, to happen upon a bird rarely seen in our region, the Varied Sittella.
chasing the insect
The Varied Sittella is only found in the south eastern states of NSW and Victoria and occasionally eastern SA. They are insectivorous and feed mainly, like the lookalike Treecreeper, on the trunks and branches of trees. However, they do not necessarily ascend the tree to the top and fly to the next tree, when they forage in similar fashion as the Treecreeper, nor do they make the loud repetitive single note call of the Treecreeper, but forage more quietly with their sharp twittering calls. We saw these two Sittella huddled high and hidden in the tree. One appeared to be a juvenile and the other an adult female.
Together in another part of the tree this pair of Sittellas sat preened and rested.
Again we saw the beautiful tiny but bright Yellow Thornbill and the handsome Silvereye.
We followed this Grey Shrike-thrush along the track for some time as he stopped to check us out.
Lastly, the White-eared Honeyeater were also present, though we were starting to loose light so I had few good shots to show after this.
While we walked at Wianamatta this beautiful cloud formation appeared, looking very much plumed like a feather, as my wife suggested. Which reminded us that our loving Heavenly Father is enjoying this experience with us. He enjoys us enjoying and appreciating his Creation and thanking him for it. So he put this this reminder in the sky for us to remember that he is always there for us and travelling with us on our journey. This also was an unexpected sign. Birding is full of exciting unexpected experiences, like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates, “you never know what you are going to get”.
See how King David sees himself as a young bird shielded by God his Father bird, what a beautiful image for a Birder, of God’s care and protection of us.
“He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.” – Psalm 91:4 (NLT)
“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.” – Psalm 37:4
“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” – Ephesians 3:20
This week I created a private song page for the encouragement of my wife’s niece Nikki, a young mother of 3, who has been in hospital now for nine months with a debilitating illness. Her faith and joy in the Lord is remarkable and an amazing inspiration to all who know her. If you would like access to this page to listen to the selection of my songs recorded way back in my earlier Christian years, drop me a line and I will send the link and the password, and please pray for her as she may be returning home soon, but with disabilities. We continue to pray for complete healing.
Have a wonderful week and stay warm! I am working well writing my next book as the inspiration flows during my time away from my previous work. I am privileged to have this time to devote myself to the task.
If this is your first time to my blog, please check out the pages on my website HomePage on birding and counseling tips.
NOTE: All photos, videos and music used on this website are photographed, composed, performed by the site owner and remains his copyrighted property, unless otherwise stated. The use of any material that is not original material of the site owner is duly acknowledged as such. © W. A. Hewson 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019.
Adult with Juvenile Rainbow Lorikeet
Mindfulness is the latest therapy and lifestyle enhancement tool to be brought to the modern life improvement stage of counselling. While its various forms have their roots within a variety of belief systems and cultures, it is one of the ways designed to help people get in touch better with themselves, God (their belief system and its values) and the here and now (the present). Mindfulness as a therapy helps one learn to adapt and change unhealthy attitudes to past emotional and psychological injuries.
I personally believe that regular birding (birdwatching), nature/bush walks, what ever that may look like, assists in the process of becoming present and in the moment, connecting with our real self and the reality of the present ’round about us, thus allowing the stress and pain of the past to dispel and loose its power, and allow the new now person to be better positioned to take control of their life, and move forward. The five senses need to be engaged deliberately – feeling, seeing, hearing, smelling and possibly tasting.
Let me share why over the past 7 years or so, my wife and I, have learned to acutely train our senses (as many other birders have) when walking about, and how it develops and brings a level of appreciation previously did not enjoyed. It is interesting that when non-birding friends come walking with us that they are amazed how we can locate and photograph birds and other creatures which they have no idea are actually only feet away. The above photos show a juvenile Rainbow Lorikeet (dark mottled beak and lesser orange chest) with the adult parent. I could have easily walked past if I had not had my ears tuned in to the unusual noises coming from deep within a tree on a very hot day last week. A strange faint squeaking sound drew my attention, and after a minute or two these birds were located.
Another example was from yesterday while we took my grandson birding (binoculated of course) into the Royal National Park. We were trying to find the Azure Kingfisher to show him, which I had shown to two of my other grandsons on previous occasions, but we did not find it in its usual area along the Hacking River. Looking across the river underneath a large bush and well hidden in the dark, my wife excitedly announced a Nankeen Night-Heron, a bird we seldom see due to it being a nocturnal hunter who rests out of sight during the day. Take a look at this clip and you understand what I mean by sharpening our senses to become acutely aware of what is around us.
Visiting another favorite reserve I walk silently along the walking track through the forest. Listening and watching for signs of movement. People passed walking and talking, the occasional one playing with their mobile phone, unaware of what they are missing around about them. This little Brown Thornbill watched them, without them even being aware it was there. This birds classic sound alerted us to its presence, though it took some perseverance to find it.
As I walked pass the shaded ponds I saw this Eastern Great Egret fishing in a mindful pose. It remained completely immobile poised for instant food retrieval. Though this bird stands out and is quite visible, the delight of watching this bird hunt its prey was quite inspiring and brought a sense of thankfulness from my heart to my Creator Father God, through whom I view the world so much more appreciatively. Watch as this bird positions itself for success, we can learn so much from birds.
Eating and Re positioning.
Retrieving and eating.
Here is another…
Finally, the Egret spotted me and stretched its neck high to ward me off. This is what they do to make themselves look larger and more threatening.
As the tide was becoming low I walked down to the mud flats to see if I could see the very elusive and most shy Striated Heron. Most people who look out across the mud flats would not even notice this small bird because its colour blends so well with the mud and most of the time it stands motionless, waiting for its prey. I know what to look for to locate it, and as soon as it sees me it does a runner so I have to locate it very quickly.
However, one bird most people do notice grazing on the mud flat is the White-faced Heron.
That same day I took a look at low tide on the beach where I normally observe my waders. The beach appeared empty of any birds but for Silver Gulls. I was looking intently from some distance to the shoreline but could not see anything. I was about to walk away, and I remembered that I needed to scan very carefully, as my sight is starting to fail me, so I stood and scanned the shoreline and then I found one Eastern Curlew and one Bar-tailed Godwit, a most unexpected find, as Godwits are usually in small flocks. Wader numbers have been noticeably low this year which is disappointing. In this moment I needed to take time to look, and not impulsively glance and leave proclaiming, ‘nothing!’as I quite easily could have done, being affected by this fast moving, always busy, impatient, impulsive, often distracted I want it now age.
The more we seek to expand our appreciation of birds by investing time to stop and learn the art of being still and deliberately connecting with and tuning into our surroundings, the sooner we gain the skills to identify and see birds nearby by hearing their calls and watching their peculiar movement and characteristic shape. Like all learned skills it takes time and commitment, but the fruit of it is much more than just learning about birds. There’s the bush and forest setting, the wild flowers and plants, other native animals and reptiles, the dappling of the sun through the trees, the cool fresh breeze trembling the leaves in the trees, refreshing upon the face and of course the quiet solitude but for the joyful calls of birds. It is all part of one’s mindful experience which many have heard referred to as smelling the roses.
Being alone with myself and God in the forest is therapy and healing for me, restoring and revitalizing my spirit and body. Birding is healthy and assists longevity. Check out my page on the benefits of birding.
God says “Be quiet [and still, so you can tune into to my presence] and know [experience the reality and wonder] of me, your God.” Extracted from Psalm 46:10.
“I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.” – Psalm 77:12
‘Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.’ – Psalm 139:23,24
Have a wonderful week and keep out of the exceptionally hot weather. Next week we will revisit the birds around Narrabeen Lagoon Trail by special request from Jem.
Thanks so much everyone, and in particular, Janette who shared last week via email, how she has been blessed from my book. If you have not checked it out yet you can right now at my birdbook page.
NOTE: All photos, videos and music used on this website are photographed, composed, performed by the site owner and remains his copyrighted property, unless otherwise stated. The use of any material that is not original material of the site owner is duly acknowledged as such. © W. A. Hewson 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018