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 we enter November, the last month of Spring, most of our Winter migrants have returned to their exact previous locations for their Summer stopover. Most of the passerine migrants spend our Winter in Far North Queensland, New Guinea, Indonesia and parts of South East Asia. One such bird I spotted calling in our local Oatley Park Reserve, to which it returns each year is the Dollarbird. A beautiful insectivorous bird that commonly sits on the top of dead trees or exposed areas. This one bird had no visible partner and was continually calling, possibly looking for a mate, who was not present as yet. I managed to catch some flight shots. The name comes from a the white marking on the wings which some bright sparl thought it looked like a dollar. The Indian or Common Myna wing markings look more like a dollar than this bird.
While in the park it was good to see the Chestnut Teal family was doing well and had produced another Spring clutch, though they made it difficult for me to photograph them.
The Pied Currawong is also nesting in the park, and is making sure its nest is near sufficient nests and nestlings of other small birds so it can feed its young. As you will know from my 2nd Edition, this bird is known to be the great opportunist, being one of our very cunning territorial Aussie birds. Now looking at his wings you could almost call him a Dollarbird also. The Currawong is a very unique Corvid cousin, omnivorous bird with many very interesting calls, and is often tricked by another migrant, the Channel-billed Cuckoo, the world’s largest Cuckoo, who replaces its eggs for its own, as I showed last year.
Here is a male and female Eastern Koel, I sighted recently in the Royal National Park, which is another returning migrant Cuckoo that uses Currawongs as a surrogate to raise its young. The female bares the Cuckoo stripes and the male is black with a red eye and is sometimes mistaken from a distance as a Satin Bowerbird.
Female and male Eastern Koel
Female Koel spreading wings
So many people have asked me to identify this horrible noise that wakes them up very early on Summer mornings and of course it is the male and female Koels communicating. Can you imagine what it is like having a tree next to your bedroom with these in it ?!
Before sunrise and throughout the day the male location call.
Then there is the other migrant, the Channel-billed Cuckoo, the largest of all, which is also in our neighborhoods at present being constantly chased by most of our local territorial birds, as they know what these birds get up to.
Channel-billed Cuckoo in flight
Another horrible noise to wake up to…
My wife and I woke early yesterday morning to go on a birding date to the Nasho (Royal NP) to see what new birds have flown in for the Summer months, with the hope of a nice breakie at the Nasho cafe to celebrate the 3rd, as we do each month to mark our wedding anniversary date. The track was still wet from recent good rains and at first we heard the sound of what sounded like a squeaking children’s swing in action, at least that was how my wife described it, and it was none other than the male Australian King Parrot, who landed alone nearby. He sounded and looked like he had recently matured and was calling for a partner, as these birds mate for life and are seldom seen alone.
One of his cousins, the Eastern Crimson Rosella appeared to be training a more immature bird and teaching it to drink.
People often mistaken the call of this bird for a Bellbird or Bell Miner.
It was early, and thankfully we were alone from noisy walkers, bike riders and joggers, with the melodic call firstly of the Grey Shrike-thrush nearby, though he was shy and did not want his photo taken.
As we walked along the track I could see this strange object sitting in the middle of the track. As we walked curiously with caution toward it we realised it was an unusual find, a immature Wonga Pigeon. This is a specific rainforest pigeon which is seldom seen and is endemic to our eastern rainforests. As I previously shared we have a variety of native Pigeons and Doves endemic to our rainforests which feed on the fruits from the forest such as fig and palm.
In the distance we could hear the haunting call of the Wonga, which we often hear early in the morning at the Nasho, but never see the bird. The Grey Shrike-thrust can be heard calling in the background.
As usual the male Golden Whistler were in full song and busily finding tasty grubs to feed on.
We were pleased to find the beautiful native Mountain Devil flowering again in the forest after 4 years of drought, and is a great supporting flower during winter for honeyeaters, especially the Eastern Spinebill.
Mountain Devil flower
Mountain Devil bush
Soon I heard the sound of the Scarlet Honeyeater, a very elusive, tiny and eucalypt canopy feeding bird. It was a challenge to actually get it against a cloudy sky as it called to its female mate.
The last photo gives you an idea how small this bird is, and why it is challenging to capture its photo as it mostly feeds on the canopy of very high trees and is constantly moving, only stopping to communicate briefly. We use to confuse its call with the Willy Wagtail and sometimes the Grey Fantail, but we are better at it now.
Another classic rainforest call that gets us on the run to search up the tree trunks is that of the White-throated Treecreeper, which we heard nearby and actually located for a minute. Though this bird is not easy to photograph when it climbs the dark side of the tree, as it does. In the sun it is quite splendid. He was removing bark in search of grubs and underlying insects as he walked up the tree calling.
But our best returning migrant find for the day was the Black-faced Monach which returns each Summer to the park. Sadly this bird hates getting its picture taken and will do everything to hide its face, thinking it makes hi invisible. So it hid in the dark under a tree canopy, so forgive the extreme enhancement.
I usually only detect this elusive bird by hearing its unique call.
Lastly, one rainforest bird we usually always see and hear is the male and female Satin Bowerbird, and we found this juvenile bird being harassed by Noisy Miners as it sat scared alone in a tree, and kept escaping from our camera. Immature birds resemble the female mother and the males will not start to show their mature satin plumage for up to six years.
By that time they should have learnt their mimicry repertoire and dance and have learnt to build a fashionable bower and decorate it. We found a mature male nearby, also trying to elude us, as the males are the most shy.
My wife felt quite refreshed and happy after our birding date, especially as we enjoyed breakie, though it was quite noisy as they were laying topsoil and turf to the riverside paddock.
I do hope you have a wonderful week, especially those out and about after extended lock-downs.
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The good news is that we are getting closer to negotiating for the publishing of my next book, but there is much more work to be done, even though the book is basically completed.
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Each bird has its own unique call or in many cases calls. We identify the bird before we actually see it by its call, which then leads us to its location. Birders develop acute hearing due to their very mindful hobby, and it gives them the rewards they seek. Because many birds mimic other birds, especially the Lyrebird, we can sometimes be mistaken if we do not listen for the subtle nuances, this comes from listening carefully and noting the differences. Do you know what bird or birds this is?
You would be looking for this bird, possibly for several of them.
Now what do you think it is ?
Here is a tricky one, what do you think this is ?
And again, we reveal the truth.
The tell tail sound of the Lyrebirds own call and interspersed beat it uses to dance with gives the sound away briefly. Yes we can definitely hear the call of both the Cockatoo and Miner but it is not them giving it, it is a copycat version, and a very good one at that since Lyrebird’s hearing and mimicry so outclasses all other birds in that it can make the sound appear like several birds calling at the same time and also alter the volume to sound like they are coming or going. All this with only three syrinx muscles instead of the usual four for Australian songbirds. Wow! What about you Mr Lyrebird, your an enigma !
This is a lesson to us all that we may meet people who talk the talk but may not necessarily be walking the walk, and I confess there have been times in my own life where this has been true. We can think that when we meet people and they seem so nice and polite, appearing on the outset to be good, honest kind people living in happy loving family relationships. but this may actually be a front or copy of the person they are making themselves out to be at the time, and in actual fact there true nature and species remains hidden from us behind closed doors.
The Covid has been a relationship test for many families, and with it the increase in domestic violence and family abuse has been noted in our country, and is currently a major problem, and a stain on our civilized society. If we think this is the case for anyone, or any family we know at this time it is in their family’s interest and well being to help them get help, as often pride and shame prevent this until it is too late and injury, broken marriage or even death results as has recently been the case in our own country.
White Ribbon Australia: Prevent Violence Against Women is part of a global attempt to reduce the problem, not to punish men, but to help them get the help and counselling they need, as many of these problems stem from copying their own dysfunctional family of origin examples, which are being exacerbated by the inability to cope with their own current stress and loss of self esteem. My new book hopefully will help in a non confronting way to assist young adults in becoming aware of why they are and act the way they do, and what they can do to change this. If you know anyone who needs help: 1800RESPECT. 1800 737 732
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” – 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 (NIV)
W. A. Hewson (Adv. Dip. Counselling & Family Therapy).
‘To introduce people to our unique Australian birds,
‘So we can learn from them how to live a healthy and happy life.’