Last week my wife and I went for a longer than usual walk into the rainforest in the Royal National Park. We have been enjoying these long walks in the fresh sunny Autumn weather, and it has been therapeutic emotionally and physically as I continue to come to terms with social distancing, accepting retirement, my camera still being repaired and my book promotion put on hold.
Continuing from my previous post we left early in search again for the female Superb Lyrebirds nesting, as Autumn is the time when she builds the nest and lays her eggs, while the male continues to do his song and dance performances to woo his female fans for mating. Click Here for some of my previous footage, which some of you have seen, to give you an idea how they dance to their own beat, and use their repertoire of mimicry to impress the female.
Male Lyrebird performing mimicry
Male Lyrebird dancing to his own beat.
Like the Bowerbird, the males spend most of their life, and time practicing their performance for that short period of several weeks when they mate. Notice the female photo above (again the work of my dear wife, who wants to thanks those who complemented her for her beautiful Fairy-wren photo featured last week)) has an ordinary feathered tail and a rufous throat, unlike the beautiful male tail. As we walked deeper into the forest we noticed increased scratchings by the track, and soon we started finding the females preparing their nests and just very quietly foraging for food.
It was not long before we found what we were looking for, a female collecting sticks and moss for the nest. Again, she was very careful to not give away the location of the nest. I watched how particular she was collecting the correct stick. She would stop, add to the bundle, pick it up and move to her next pick up.
This particular day we saw no males, though the following week I saw 3 males and 3 females. As we made our way through the forest our stress levels fell and we felt more relaxed.
We started hearing and then seeing the White-throated Treecreeper ascending a tree, silently. Usually you only find them by hearing their loud repeating call. This is a female, because of the orange spot on her ears.
As she ascended you will hear in the background the sound of another Treecreeper climbing, foraging for grubs and insects in the bark of the eucalypt tree. This is a bird seen in greater number during the colder months.
The Golden Whistler is quieter during the winter months also. The males are usually hard to spot during Winter months, as they are shy and not singing as much as they Sing in Spring. The females on the other hand are very curious and will come close to get a good look at you.
One bird you will always hear in our rainforest all year round is the Lewin’s Honeyeater. Their call is similar to the Treecreeper but much faster in staccato. You may remember the call from a previous post, it was also in the background of the female Golden Whistler clip (above).
On this occasion I was able to get closer. Most of our Honeyeaters migrate around following blossom, and avoiding colder weather, but the Lewin’s is a rainforest Honeyeater and is usually territorial remaining all year round, similar to the Miners and Wattlebirds.
One of the encouraging signs after the drought beginning to break from recent rains, is the sound of the many Eastern Whipbirds, which went very quiet during the driest part of last year, as they forage on the forest floor turning moist leaf litter for grubs and insects, in moist gullies. They are very elusive birds, and in my early birding years had me standing for hours trying to catch a glimpse. This one eluded us also.
Eastern Whipbird sees us and plans his escape
Eastern Whipbird making his gettaway
As we finished our 9 km walk we noticed this Australasian Darter resting, and doing an excerpt from some Bird Ballet for a few seconds.
My contemplation for this week comes from the following film clip during my rainforest walk this week. The National Park was spared the horrific bushfires this past year, but has been burnt out years ago in 1994 with a horrific fire click here to see some of the photos. This tall straight forest hardwood in the thick of the rainforest was burnt out but continues to grow strong, because enough of the vital cambium layer just under the thick bark, which feeds the tree, survived the intense heat and fire.
This tree reminded me of me, when years ago I suffered burn out from being too busy and too stressed from the demands of job, family and life itself. Thankfully with God’s provision and help I survived and managed to to come back even stronger, like the tree, which spurred me on to study family counselling and write the books. While I remain connected and rooted firmly to my Life Source I can continue growing and enjoying life, having learnt how to avoid further burn out. My birding walks help achieve this,in a mindful way, like Adam (the first man) I can walk and talk with God alone in his beautiful garden, and be at peace, because I have come to realize his faithful love and provision for me. If you feel safe to check out my Birder Sanctuary pages you will see some of the principles that helped me through the difficult times, and continue to. Interesting enough God used birds to teach, help and even feed man many times throughout history, and Jesus mentions them more than any other animal.
Enjoy your week, and especially enjoy a fresh appreciation of freedom, food, family and friends and our beautiful country as we begin to navigate a new normal as we hopefully come out of the Covid Crisis.
My Mission: To encourage all people to make good life choices, using birds to teach important life skills.
W. A. Hewson (Adv. Dip. Counselling & Family Therapy).
In response to an email from NSW National Parks, my wife and I made our way to our local Royal NP for an exercise walk, after a week in isolation at home. It was interesting to see the police and ranger presence, but even more interesting was that there were more people present on this beautiful Autumn Sunday in the NP than I have ever seen at one time, and I am a frequent attendant. It was impossible not to pass another person, but of course always maintaining the 1.5 m distance. It was the most therapeutic option for us locals given the circumstances. Families playing together enjoying the sun on the grass, bike riders peddling past, and many couples and families walking the trails and dodging the many mud puddles along the way, evidence of recent good rainfalls. The creeks and waterfalls were all flowing again. At the start of our walk on each occasion we always scan the banks of the river where 80% of the time we spot the Azure Kingfisher (or its cousin the Sacred, or both). Sure enough my wife spotted it across the river on the far bank.
This beautiful little bird is always a delight to watch fly and fish. Funny to watch is his head as it bobs up and down every time he moves it. My wife is again the photographer of the stills, and these shots were from some distance away, I could not see the bird at all. As we walked we noticed how quiet it was with very few bird sounds, like last week. My wife was cautious, looking out for the Red-bellied Black Snake again, that we saw a couple of weeks ago. Sure enough it was again on the side of the trail hidden in the grass catching the warmth of the sun, hiding from all the passers by, and thankfully quite unperturbed by our presence.
Red-bellied Black Snake sun bathing
It was lovely to see many of the local Gymea Liliy plants preparing to send up stems. This park is known for them as they are a native plant endemic to the coastal areas around Sydney. We even have a town nearby called Gymea which the lily is named after. This healthy specimen has sent three stems up which will be flowering soon.
This is what the flower head will look like when it opens…
Since we were here last week the Banksia ericifolia flowers have started coming to full bloom, which becomes one of the main nectar sources for honeyeaters during the early Winter months, as does the Bush Fuchsia, flowering also at the moment. This Lewins Honeyeater is enjoying a feed.
We often would hear the high fast staccato call of this bird as it seemed to follow us down the track. You will get to see it calling in a later video in this post, and how it involves its whole body. Finally, we arrived at Bill’s Rock as us locals know it. This is where Bill a large male Superb Lyrebird flies up to from across the river, to make his way up the embankment on the other side of the track. The amazing Angophora tree is growing on top of the rock, where we and others sometimes sit and wait for Bill.
Bill’s Rock with Angophora costata tree growing on top of it.
Lo and behold, we were both confronted with the sounds of several Golden Whistlers calling to one another nearby, quite out of character for the season, though they were communicating and the male was not delivering his courting and nesting warnings, as that season had passed.
We looked for them and finally laid eyes on both a male and a female. My wife took the lovely photo of the male featured at the beginning of this post. They called continuously to one another the whole time we were there. There may have been a youngster also as there were several callers.
Lo and behold again! We could hear Bill calling from below near the river, practicing his display for his courting dance and song, which consist of a repertoire of mimicry formed from the sounds of neighboring birds and noise making things. Listen as I identify some of the sounds in the following video. At this stage the Superb Lyrebird male is performing out of sight in the bush below the cliff face. He will have his tail feathers up over his head and will be dancing to his own music.
Here is another recording to listen to…
Finally, as we both stood together on Bill’s Rock, we saw him in the bush scratching for worms and insects in the leaf litter.
While he was calling continuously, our Lewins Honeyeater who was following us came to take a look at us. You will hear the Lyrebird calling in the background and at the end of the clip see and hear the call of the Lewins Honeyeater as he declares his presence.
We also caught a glimpse of this Eastern Spinebill, another nectar eater common to the park, usually in great numbers during the Summer months, but numbers are reduced due to lack of nectar producing flowers.
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OR Continue and discover lessons we can learn which have been gleaned from today’s post. If you proceed please be aware, at times quotes from the Christian Bible and other sources are used with reference to my own personal faith context:
My Personal Bird Reflection for this Week
Several times I have posted the following photo when visiting the Royal NP because of the beauty and aspect of this Angophora tree as it hangs over the bend in the Hacking River. It is one of my favorite pics.
These remarkable trees seem to grow in the most unexpected and impossible places, where other trees could not survive. The weight and size of the tree make one marvel at this tree, which almost crosses the river with its topmost branches, as it remains solidly fastened to the rock base. These trees appear to grow out of the rock. See also the tree on Bill’s Rock previous.
Angophora costata (Sydney Redgum)
It is in times like the present, when many of us are having our ability to stand strong and secure tested, that we need to ensure we are firmly and securely planted. Many would say we need faith to ride the storm, but faith is of no use if it is not in something that is strong enough to hold us as we lean or falter. It is not faith that saves, but the object of our faith, what we are believing in that has the saving or securing power we seek that brings peace. Even as we lean perilously out over deep river, it is not our ability to hold on that saves us, though it is an important factor, it is the solid, secure, unmovable rock my roots are fastened to. Yes, it is the platform or base upon which our faith is grounded that holds us safe and secure, bringing peace in uncertain times. Jesus explains this using a parable comparing the house built on sand and the house built on rock. When they are tested, or put under trial, only one remains.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” – Matthew 7:24
“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” – Psalm 40:1,2
“The Lord has become my fortress, and myGod the Rock in whom I take refuge.” – Psalm 94:22
Enjoy your week ! Stay Safe! We commence our staycation this week and will have to decide which part of the house we will travel to, since we are not travelling over seas as was the plan.
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).