To celebrate my recent birthday, my wife and I spent a weekend at Serenity Diamond Beach resort nearby my daughter and family. The resort fronts onto the pristine Diamond Beach and backs onto Khappinghat Nature Reserve where we would walk early morning and late afternoon to take in the many bird sounds and bird activity in the reserve at the rear of the resort grounds. Birders know these times as the morning and evening chorus being the best time to go bird watching, as birds are in their largest number feeding and calling, and much easier to spot.
The prominent bird feeding on the native flowers was the White-cheeked Honeyeater, a bird I had never seen in such abundance in one place. We could hear the chatter of the birds calling to one another in small feeding flocks. I love this little guy preening and calling in the clip below, making sure he does not miss out on being in the conversation.
This honeyeater looks very similar to its New Holland Honeyeater cousin, except for its white-cheeks, and also resides mostly in the coastal forests and scrubland of the east coast of NSW and Victoria, though there is a race also in the far south west WA. My wife was delighted when she spotted this immature White-cheeked Honeyeater resting alone and watching its relatives busily feeding and calling to one another. You will notice the white cheeks are still developing. Click on photos to enlarge them.
White-cheeked Honeyeater immature
White-cheeked Honeyeater adult
The occasional sound of the Eastern Whipbird was heard, at first we searched in the scrub as this is mostly an elusive ground feeding bird but when we could not find him there, my wife spotted him high in the eucalypt tree I was standing beneath.
Latest research has suggested that birds get a high (endorphin hit) from singing their songs, and one could believe this if they were standing where we were in the early morning. This Superb Fairy-wren male joined the chorus with his high pitched call which was much quieter than the other surrounding birds.
This Red-browed Finch was too busy feeding on this length of grass seed to join in the chorus.
Being Spring the sound of the Olive-backed Oriole could be heard and spotted calling also. This Summer immigrant is usually easily spotted when it calls as it is usually hidden in thick under canopy.
One of the common honeyeaters of the coast here, the Little Wattlebird were also seen, though I did not record any of their sound on this occasion.
One of my favorite bird calls is that of the Pied Butcherbird which is found on the north coast, we only have the Grey Butcherbird, which has a joyful laughing call making me smile when I here it each morning. The Pied has a more melodious chiming call.
We were immediately on alert with camera in hand and racing outside our resort villa when we heard a flock of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo pass over and landing on a native tree to feed on Banksia cones near the beach. There distinctive call can be heard.
The Grey Fantail was flitting about, though not fanning his tail, and you can also hear the call of the Yellow-tails in the background.
In a tree in the back yard of my daughter’s home was this female Tawny Frogmouth. Unusual to find them alone this time of year, though it may be still a little immature and not yet breeding. The females have the ‘tawny’ or rufous colored plumage, particularly on the shoulders, while the males are more grey-brown.
On the beach front while sharing time with my daughter’s family we saw these Humpback Whales breaching far out at sea, but my birding lens managed to capture these pics.
If you have read this far in my post for this week I thank you. In recent weeks I have noticed a significant drop in my website/blog stats so I take this moment to ask if you would kindly comment and tell me what you think I could improve on or do differently if you have helpful suggestions. I am considering changing my blog posts to reflect my next book which I will be writing soon after my current research period. I believe God is bringing a new season to my blog, but it may begin in the new year, when my employment situation changes again.
Have a wonderful week! Happy Thanksgiving to my dear American friends! We could do with a holiday in Australia to give thanks for the wonderful things we enjoy because of God;s goodness to us. It is a time to celebrate our wonderful God with passionate joyful praise and appreciation.
“Let’s enter his presence with thanksgiving! Let’s shout out to him in celebration!” – Psalm 95:2 (NET)
If this is your first visit to my blog, I welcome you and invite you to check out the rest of my website at my Homepage.
If you have not purchased my book ‘What Birds Teach Us’ check out my BirdBook page and find out more. This book sells at this time of year as a wonderful Christmas gift to give young people from the age of 7 to 12 years.
On the Anzac Day Holiday my wife and I left early with a batch of fresh Anzac Biscuits for a drive up into the Southern Highlands to Barren Grounds National Park, home of two of Australia’s most elusive and endangered bird species, the Eastern Ground Parrot and the Eastern Bristlebird. Some of you know I have featured the Bristlebird on previous blogs in past years, including its youngsters, but in all our visits to this important heathland habitat, have never sighted the Ground Parrot. The comforting thought is that most birders have come away disappointed also, and very few have ever had the gift of seeing this bird, and even less of capturing a clear image. Both birds live on the ground beneath the heathland and are very very human shy and the Ground Parrot is usually only seen as a bright green blur streaking away when it is flushed out of the low lying heathland scrub, as it rapidly goes for cover. Jervis Bay National Park is the only other place these birds are known to be found. After a couple of hours searching we found one Bristlebird, but not on the ground where we usually find them, this one was sitting in a low lying bush. The Bristlebird gets its name from the small strong bristles below its beak which are only noticeable on close inspection. Click on photos to enlarge them.
We set out on the Lookout Walk which gave extensive views across the Illawarra Valley and coast.
On our walk we noticed the prevalence of several winter birds mainly the Yellow-faced Honeyeater was in numerous small flocks, constantly moving through.
Next numerous were the Eastern Spinebill, one of my favourite honeyeaters, and so beautiful in the sunlight.
I have never seen so many Red Wattlebirds in one place in such a large flock, also an occasional Little Wattlebird. These birds are also honeyeaters.
The New Holland Honeyeater is also in large number here, flitting about from tree to tree.
I managed only to get one shot of the rarer White-faced Honeyeater and the not so rare Lewin’s Honeyeater
How come so many birds here on the highland heathlands at a time when birds are usually much less on the coast? What are they eating for food, as many of the flowers will not appear till early Spring? There are several spring flowers flowering very early here as well as the usual Bottlebrush, flowering gum, Boronia and also a flowering Grass Tree, attracting birds and bees to its tasty nectar. The Barren Grounds Wattle is even flowering at present!
Very early Wattle
Flowering Grass Tree
Flowering Grass Tree
Eastern Spinebill drinking from Banksia
Very early Boronia
Early Tea Tree
Of course we always see the Eastern Yellow Robyn when we visit here, with his curious observation of us watching him. There are a number of ‘Eastern’ prefixes to these birds, as they are found only in this part of Australia, along the eastern coast. The Robin is mainly insectivorous. The honeyeaters are also, but they are healthier with a diet of nectar included.
After our morning tea with Anzac bickies and coffee on a bench in among the trees, we saw a juvenile Eastern Crimson Rosella. Yes another Eastern!
After a chat with some other visiting birders we met there, and accepting that we would not see the Ground Parrot on this occasion, we drove back down the windy mountain road to Jamberoo and the Minnamurra Rainforest Centre, one of the major sellers of my book, and home to many Superb Lyrebird. It was encouraging to see my display looking so good, and the continuous video I made was playing.
Disply at Minnamurra
We did the rainforest walk loop before lunch and during lunch this male Lyrebird decided to dig two feet away from our table. I want you to look carefully at this video and tell me if you can tell me what is abnormal about this bird.
Notice also the beautiful lace like fibers of the tail. These are spread over his head when he performs his courting dance, a dance he practices daily from a young age.
By now we were quite tired having left early in the morning and walked for so long. We left satisfied that we had an enjoyable time in the warm not so hot autumn sun exploring this important bird habitat, though the Ground Parrot remains on our ‘bucket list.’
The point of interest inspiring thought arising from the day, was this male Lyrebird. Looking at him from a profile perspective, he looks quite normal and our attention is turned more to the birds whole body and digging action, however, when he walks away and we see him from the rear we notice he only has one set of tail plumage and not two. This is important when he spreads his tail over his head, it would also make his walk a little unbalanced. We don’t know why his is missing the second tail section but it does not make him any less of a Superb Lyrebird. This is the same for each of us when people view us and our actions, We are all ‘broken’ people in some way or other but we hide it from the world by the perspective we allow others to see. It takes a lot of courage to allow our vulnerability for others to see and view the real you, where you can share your weaknesses and shortcomings without fear or shame or pride obstruction. This can be not only healing for you but for those you share with, as it gives opportunity for others to open up and share burdens they may have been carrying for many years, but never felt safe to share.
“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 (NIV)
Last weekend we flew up to Port Macquarie to visit my daughter and family, and to have a restful Easter weekend by the Hastings River. We always love to visit Sea Acres Rainforest Centre, a place where my wife and I have fond memories when courting. We took my daughter and grandson Jesse along though little Pippa was sick and her daddy stayed at home with her. On arrival my grandson soon found that Pa’s book was quite visible with its bright blue cover. This was one of the first places to sell my book, and they sell very well here.
It is actually a declared NSW National Park and houses some of the last remaining subtropical coastal rainforest, with extensive elevated boardwalks for easy access, and very good cafe where we later celebrated my daughter and wife’s birthday with lunch. However, the long dry and very hot summer has had its toll on the usually lush green forest. Click on photo to enlarge it.
Strangler fig around tree by road
One of the first birds one might see in coastal rainforest due to its year round territorial presence making it predictably discoverable, along with its curious nature, is the Eastern Yellow Robin. Yes, and it was the first bird we saw there. This insectivorous robin will sometimes follow or lead you down the track.
We were amazed as we walked along the boardwalk, how quiet it was, as we were accustomed to hearing the constant sound of bird song from many species, but now, just an occasional sound, it was just too dry, and there was little native fruit present. We were occasionally excited when we heard the sound of the elusive Green Catbird, but never saw it, though it would have seen us. I did record its sound for you.
One of the few birds we did see was this immature Grey Butcherbird which sat on the side wire and allowed us to get very close, as it had not yet developed fear of our presence.
This was a great opportunity to teach my grandson about the forest and birds, and highly recommend you grandparents do the same, as we need to show them there is a beautiful world outside of their technology devices. One bird which brought a moment of excitement was the very fast moving Crested Shrike-tit, a true rainforest bird though small, uses its powerful small beak to dislodge bark from trees to uncover underlying insects and grubs. You discover this usually quiet bird by the noise of falling bark. I was only able to get a few pics before it saw us and left.
Probably the most heard bird in the forest the whole time we were there was Lewins Honeyeater, a classic rainforest honeyeater for the east coast of Australia. Its
The White-throated Treecreeper is another bird often difficult to spot as it climbes the tree trunk on the dark side under the canopy. This is a female (see the orange spot on face). It makes it call as it climbs the tree in search of insects.
The last birds we heard and saw was the Satin Bowerbird male and female high in the tall tree canopy, but it was difficult to photograph them, only a female was clearly visible.
Female Satin Bowerbird
Female Satin Bowerbird
You will often hear the scratching of the Australian Brush Turkey as it lifts the lesaf litter in search of insects, in a similar way to the lyrebird which sadly was not found in this forest area. This female was actauly well adapted to searching through the bags of picnicers in the beach nearby while unattended.
After lunch I wanted to show Jesse the huge Lace Monitor goannas that haunt the picnic ground down on Shelly Beach (part of the national park), but they were not present. This is what we had seen the day before.
Lace Monitor head
This family of monitors was checking out the picnic of a family of humans who were watching with feet up on chairs as they checked for any food scraps. These goannas are notorious for robbing picnic tables while no one is watching.
The Little Wattlebird is common find in the coastal forest, we saw this one in the back yard of my daughters new home.
As we left the park we spied these rainforest birds high up in a huge eucalypt tree some distance way, and they seemed quite curious to us, as to what these two bird species were doing. The common Rainbow Lorikeet were checking out the not so common Scaly-breasted Lorikeets who just happened to be in the neighborhood.
Rainbow and Scaly-breasted
Rainbow and Scaly-breasted
Rainbows in flight
We stayed at a boutique resort by the river, where we saw many waterbirds. We also saw this Brown Honeyeater enjoying nectar from the beautiful Bird of Paradise flower by the pool. You can see here how the curved beak assists in getting deep into the flower base to retrieve nectar.
My wife enjoyed the pool on the unusually hot autumn days, I soon learned that I needed to have my camera ready by the pool as bird stuff was going down all the time we were there. The most notable bird activity was the noise flock of Little Corella moving too and fro across the bay, feeding from pine cones and grass seed.
Every so often there would be a sudden flurry and cry of the flock as they flew all over the sky. I thought ‘look up, must be raptor in sight’, and sure enough this Brahminy Kite was doing the rounds, but was against the sun and a fair way up so my shots are bot pristine.
The comical Australian Pelican was doing its preening from the top of the lamp post, which is a common site here at Port. Lo and behold, should your car be parked beneath such a post, you would not believe what these birds could do to your car when they defecate.
While all this drama is taking place, this lone White-faced Heron fishes quietly along the shores. We saw it in the same area each day.
Each day after everyone had finished using the swimming pool this pair of Australian Wood Duck came flying in and felt quite at home swimming in the pool and camping beside it for the night. The male has the dark brown head.
The last birds we saw as we drove to the airport to fly home after a wonderful weekend away, was this small flock of Straw-necked Ibis working this grassy paddock.
One of the features of the Port coastline is the many small rock islands and formations along the many beaches, and this large rock seemed to host hundreds of gulls and terns. What makes one rock more homely than another? Maybe its the company of others…
These rocks receive a constant buffeting from the ocean, which caused me to ponder the following as I watched the waves crash…
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33 (NLT)
“Give all your worries and cares to God, forhecares about you.” – 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT)
Have a wonderful week exploring this amazing planet of ours. Check out my website for more birding information and helpful hints.