One of the great advantages of my wife having more days off during the week is that we can have more frequent birding dates together and explore new regions around Sydney. I was tipped off that the rarely seen Painted Honeyeater had been spotted around the Penrith Weir along the Great River Walk track. So early one morning we set off with camp chairs, thermos and packed lunch to check out this unexplored birding area at the foot of the Blue Mountains along the banks of the Napean River. Of course, in western Sydney there is always the possibility of seeing snakes sunning.
Amazing as it was, we spent the first 30 minutes having only walked less than 30 meters along the path, as we a multiplicity of birds appeared, and could be identified by their calls. The scissor sound and continual displaying of the Restless Flycatcher.
The chatter of the brilliant Red-rumped Parrot in the sun as he fed on grass seed
The abrupt scraping sound of the Red Wattlebird call.
However, the loudest, continuous and most noticeable bird call was that of the Bell Miner community which had taken possession of the trees in this small area. They had young ones they were feeding and caring for also. The Bell Miner, commonly known as the Bellbird, has a very complex and organised social structure and will usually aggressively remove any other Lerps and nectar eaters from the trees. They are usually: loudly heard but seldom seen, as their colour is leaf green.
This would explain why we found in their midst two Dusky Woodswallow nests in trees only a few feet apart. The parent Woodswallows were busily watching the nest from nearby, and fetching food. Last week I showcased the less common White-browed Woodswallow, this is one of the more common cousins to our area. Both nests had three nestlings, as you can see with my feature photo, and these. Enjoy! New life was a feature in this small neck of the woods.
Woodswallows are mostly insectivorous and have no trouble finding food as they glide around us in classic Woodswallow fashion. As with new human mothers, some of feeding is trial and error, and this was the case when a large winged insect was brought in, but none of the babies could swallow it, eventually the mother ate it. You will hear the Bellbirds in the background.
A little further along the path we found this male Dusky Woodswallow displaying for the nearby female, who’s attention he could not capture. There was a lot of butt shaking, which must be a real turn on for the female. However, after putting on a good show for us, within seconds jumped on the back of the unsuspecting female and mated with her. Bird mating in many species happens very quickly in seconds, and he is gone! Most male birds do not possess a penis, so it is amazing how such brief contact with both their openings does the job. Sometimes this may occur many times a day during breeding season until she feels the urge to nest. This is why it is difficult to determine the sex of young birds when they all look alike. I have a couple of funny stories about my children’s Guinea Pigs and Budgerigars when they were young. How I was always told by the Pet Shop owner that they were all female, I will let you work the rest out, and why I needed to build larger enclosures.
There was one Honeyeater which continually eluded the Bell Miners due to its speed and size and that was the White-plumed Honeyeater, which had built a well hidden and secret nest in the midst of the blossom of the eucalypt tree in a very clever format. It would dash back and forth to elude the Miners.
Another White-plumed Honeyeater had its nest hidden deep in a small bush, making it difficult to get good pictures of it feeding its nestlings.
While we kept seeing new life of Spring all around us, and the exuberant calls of joyful males celebrating and warding off intruders, one threat hovered above for a short time in this Nankeen Kestrel, which has a diet of bird babies and insects.
Yes, the signs of new life are all around us and we are in bird baby heaven. We look up into a tall Casuarina Tree and there is one juvenile Australian Raven waiting for its parent to return with food. It decides to spread its wings and perhaps at this stage wonder what they are used for.
Further along by the river we saw this male Superb Fairy-wren in full breeding plumage followed by one juvenile baby. Notice it has no tail as yet. It was quite cute as it followed the father all over the place. The father had to ward off another breeding male which came briefly on the scene.
Nearby a female was secretly tending its nest, which was very inconspicuous and had a hidden opening. This morphing male was watching nearby, and was still changing into his breeding colours from his eclypse state. He is most likely the father to be.
As we came near to weir of the Napean River, we were looking for the Painted Honeyeater, but saw this male Satin Bowerbird watching us from high in a tree.
By the river our Australian native Hibiscus was blooming.
A lone Little Black Cormorant sat on the weir watching the water flow over the weir. Special provision has been made for native fish and Trout to move up and down the river through the weir.
Woman’s Rowing Team were practicing on the river also.
This little group of Australian Wood Duck made for the water on our approach. These birds pair for life, so these are three pair with the male having the darker head with light grey body.
We finally crossed over this remarkable walking bridge in search of coffee on the other side. This special bridge is the third build across the river, the previous two were washed away by floods in the last two centuries. There was a seamless stream of ‘westies’ walking back and forth across this bridge, enjoying this very special river vista.
We finally found a coffee shop at the art gallery where I was almost swooped by an adult magpie which was caring for one hungry juvenile, which I failed to photograph. Yes the signs were there, not to mention this Eastern Water Dragon sunning himself by the river…
My wife had a sudden moment of excitement when she spotted this beautiful Chestnut-breasted Mannikin brilliant in the sunlight. Interesting that the crest is also chestnut rather than classic than grey, possibly a hybrid?
That’s all for this post, Oh, yes before we left, we returned to our starting point where we sat under the shade of a small eucalypt sitting in our camp chairs and ate our turkeyncranny sangers and had our cuppa from the thermos. It was a hot day and the birds came close as we sat in our open air theater watching them do life. We were so thankful for a most enjoyable day!
A Family, a sports team, a work place, a community all need to work together to move forward. The more effort each employs, and the more each maintains purpose, timing, effort and direction the better and faster their achievement towards their goal. The key is focused, willing co operation. It is like rowing or sculling together in a water craft. If some decides to do it differently it throws the whole purpose and goal into confusion and trouble. We all need to pull together if we want to achieve a good outcome in life. When we are all on the same page it makes life so much more enjoyable.
“…So then, you must clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Be tolerant with one another and forgive one another whenever any of you has a complaint against someone else… And to all these qualities add love, which binds all things together in perfect unity.” – Colossians 3:12 -14 (GNT)
Have a wonderful week! if this is your first visit to my blog, why not check out my Home Page to discover more birding information and previous posts.
We are getting closer to publishing my two new books, possibly early next year, as proof reading continues. I am now writing a much more demanding work “An Introduction to Birdwatching for Young People.” which will complete the set. This will hopefully aim again at the Pre-teen and teen ages groups and be an easy reading book which will be packed with useful information for beginning a hobby or pastime in birding at any age. It will contain two sections, One: for identification of more commonly seen birds in each state and Two: containing information on the how, when, where and why of birding, the nuts and bolts. It is another exciting project the Lord dropped into my mind last week.
Since the 2nd Edition will not be published this year, why not purchase a copy of the first edition as a Christmas gift, it will change the life of the young reader in a positive way. This is the testimony of many who review my book. My wife said to me yesterday that each time she reads it it uplifts her spirits. Counselors Doctors and Teachers have shared with me how this book helped change depressed and disadvantaged young people, and older people also, encouraging them to have a positive and healthier outlook for their lives. You can purchase it here online through secure PayPal so that it arrives for Christmas. Many of my blog followers have already purchased it for their children and grandchildren and shared how it blessed them. If you are concerned, there are no religious connotations or suggestions apart from my one verse in the Introduction as to why I wrote it. It has been embraced by people of several different belief systems and various cultures, as the principles described apply to all peoples. It will also give you a better understanding of our Australian birds.
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.