In my last post I shared the wonderful birding date my wife and I had on the Great River Walk where we saw many bird babies. The Dusky Woodswallows and White-plumed Honeyeaters were not yet fledged. Last weekend we drove away from the furious bushfires inland to the city of Wagga Wagga for my B’day or more accurately what became a Birday weekend. We visited my wife’s family there, staying with her sister who was recently widowed. Her sister’s home overlooks Lake Albert. As I mentioned last week, the presence of an abundant source of food near fresh water is an excellent location for nesting. I awoke early to the melodious call of the Grey Shrike-thrush family communicating to one another. At first I thought there may be a nest nearby the house, but later saw the juvenile waiting for food, as the parent went across the road to the trees by the lake to catch insects to feed its youngster.
The fledgling was calling to its own reflection in the window next door, which would occupy it for some time, till the parents told it to get back in the backyard where it was safe.
One adult stood watch while the other hunted for food, but they maintained their call constantly throughout the day, as they communicated their whereabouts.
There was often commotion in the tree by our bedroom window which turned out to be an aggressive little adult White-plumed Honeyeater which was trying to drive the Shrike-thrush family away from hunting near its young chicks, as these could easily become part of its current diet. Notice the size of the white plume on the juveniles compared to the adult feeding them.
I love rising early when I stay there, while it is still very cold, to do an early morning bird walk around part of the lake where many birds nest and live. Here the Woodswallows are in their next stage of being fledged, but still keeping close to the nest area and being fed by parents.
Both parents are coming and going as they feed their youngsters with insects quickly acquired as they glide from tree to tree. The youngsters are able to fly quite well from tree to tree, but staying in the view of the parent.
On the lake a small flock of what appeared to be Common Tern at the time, (but later confirmed to be Whiskered Tern) were fishing the lake, with their usual diving technique. These birds were not diving in the same manner as the Crested Tern we are use to on the coast. They fly closer to the surface and dive with less speed.
This Royal Spoonbill was busily scanning the shoreline also.
This pair of Black-winged Stilt were nearby, one wading and the other sleeping.
As I walked around the wetland reserve portion of the lake I spotted this lone Hoary-headed Grebe cruising peacefully.
As I looked along the reeds on the shoreline, excitement rose as I saw a bird which some distance away, appeared to be a unfamiliar shorebird. I quickly took photos. It was a parent Black-tailed Native-hen, a bird we seldom ever see, if ever on the coast, and never before here. A parent with two juveniles, a wonderful find, though one of the juveniles hid for most of the time.
It was great to see some of the inland birds we seldom see. The Great Dividing Range which runs from top to bottom of Australia separates many of the bird species from being coastal or inland species. Another inland specie I saw was a pair of Little Friarbirds which were in the process of nest building.
Red-rumped Parrots feeding on the grass seed by the lake is a common find here. The male has the bright red rump and the female a green rump, and is basically greenish.
But one exciting and beautiful find inland in this particular region (inland south eastern Australia) was the Yellow Rosella, which for some strange reason was recently sub classed under the Crimson Rosella species. It looked radiant in the early morning sunlight.
Walking past this old tree stump by the lake I noticed an interesting friendship between a lone Eastern Rosella with mutation and a Yellow Rosella, two different species flying and exploring as if they were a pair. Plumage colour mutations are common in the Parrot families, showing much diversity. When these birds finally flew off because of my presence they flew off and landed together.
The Magpie-lark (known also as Pee Wee, Piper, or Mudlark depending on which state you live in) family were also present nearby. This female Pee Wee had two juveniles it was coaching. These birds are easy to distinguish sex and maturity by their black facial lines and their eye colour.
This Crested Pigeon was displaying some beautiful colours. One would think were hand painted.
One of the highlights of our time away was this small flock of Superb Parrots, another mainly inland bird, we happened upon on the side of the road. The male has a bright with yellow face and the female dull green. Again superbly brilliant in the sunlight when in flight.
While there are always numerous pairs and flocks of Galahs, this one and its mate seemed to be digging deeply with their beak possibly for edible roots, with its eyes closed.
Another inland bird is the Rufous Whistler. It looks and sounds similar to its cousin the Golden Whistler which is more predominant along the coastal forests, having a rufous brown body instead of the bright yellow of the Golden species. These birds are always a challenge to photograph as they love to elude your gaze. This male was singing continuously in my wife’s niece’s garden.
Listen to its call. Like other Whistlers they are heard continuously throughout the breeding season of Spring and Summer, going much quieter during Winter months.
Also jumping about in the garden is this beautiful male Superb Fairy-wren, yes another superb bird! Oh, sorry this little guy was actually in the reeds by the lake, I did not include the garden ones.
This juvenile Australian Eastern Magpie was being cared for by a young relative, possibly a sbling from a previous year clutch. This illustrates the complex and well organised social family structure of the Magpie species, where by all close and extended family members assist in raising the young. Magpies are one of Australia’s most predominant and resilient birds, partly due to this reason as well as their very high level of intelligence.
As we drove home from this wonderful weekend away, a four and a half hour drive, my wife spotted a Wedge-tailed Eagle being attacked by a Magpie. This is a common sight during breeding season, where many smaller birds attack raptors. Two weeks ago I showed a Blacked-winged Stilt doing the same. There constant attack and back biting eventually drives the raptor to another area. If you have ever been attacked by an Australian Magpie, as I have, you will know they are a formidable force, and this is why survive so well, having very few predators. The missile like speed and force of their flight is remarkable, they know no fear, even the very aggressive Noisy Miner show them great respect.
We can see that the breeding season creates many concerns for caring parents, especially when predator species which may threaten the safety of their young are also living in the vicinity. This tension is mostly only realised during the breeding season. There is constant tension, as you witnessed above. These last few days have seen horrific catastrophic bushfires burn hundreds of kilometers of prime forests, destroying over 200 human homes and now 4 lives. A thousand kilometer fire front with over 60 fires burn in our state alone, and that’s not including the fires in Queensland and now WA which is having a catastrophic day today. These fires have worsened and are spreading in many areas. These fires are of unprecedented extent and ferocity for this time of year never before experienced in Spring. The long drought, tinder dry forests with much dead or dying undergrowth, high Spring temperatures with very strong winds and fire bugs have placed our eastern states in a state of emergency. What is sooo sad is that most birds and animals are nesting or feeding their very young at this time. These fires normally occur at the end of Summer, when most can escape. The fires show no mercy as many thousands of birds and animals, over four hundred of our endangered Koalas are incinerated. If we do not get good rain soon, Sydney and other large cities may run our of water, and also be unable to stop the encroaching fires effectively. Many country towns have no water. Please pray for our country that the drought would relent and good rains would be sent to replenish and cool our land. Firefighters have come from New Zealand and other states to assist, to join with our volunteer fire brigade heroes to hold back the blazes. I have never seen my local birds have such long drinks at my bird baths as I have seen today. Funny enough our friends in Victoria and Tasmania are suffering under icy cold cyclonic winds, rain and snow. This is why our stay in Wagga felt so cool and wintery. Our state is due for another catastrophic period in the next few days, which may only worsen in the coming weeks and months as the greater heat of Summer encroaches..
Enjoy your week wherever you are and keep your bird baths topped up daily with fresh water. The more they see you caring for them, the more trusting they will become. Some of my birds are beginning to allow me within their buffer zone, as they trust me more. You may experience the same. How wonderful it would be if the fear of mankind which was given creatures after man’s rebellion to God, could be reversed to a loving caring trusting kind relationship. It was for their safety it had to be, as man’s selfish and hurtful nature can not be trusted at all times.
Though the Noisy Miner is disliked by many Australians for its noisy aggressive behaviour, it surprises many of them to discover that it is one of native birds endemic to our country. I have a friendly relationship with my visitors as you can see above, and they will bathe and drink, as will other birds, while I sit and watch them only a few feet away. I have found that having the smaller and larger bird baths next to each other under the large Bottlebrush tree with many low landing points around them is a perfect scene for the many birds to enjoy a quiet drink, a shaded wash and rest in the tree. When the larger Magpie or Currawong come they know to use the largest bath and the Miners move to the smaller. The Rainbow Lorikeets strangely enough also enlist great respect from the Noisy Miner, and they use the larger bath also. I am amazed that the Miners never attack the Rainbows. I have read that the Rainbow bite is ferocious as are their claws, so the Miners have learnt to live along side them.
“Blessed is the one whom God corrects;
so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.
For he wounds, but he also binds up;
he injures, but his hands also heal.
From six calamities he will rescue you;
in seven no harm will touch you.
In famine he will deliver you from death,
and in battle from the stroke of the sword.
You will be protected from the lash of the tongue,
and need not fear when destruction comes.
You will laugh at destruction and famine,
and need not fear the wild animals.
For you will have a covenant with the stones of the field,
and the wild animals will be at peace with you.” – Job 5:17-23 (NIV)
You can purchase your copy of my book for immediate delivery by post in time for Christmas on 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, 2019.