During the very cold Autumn winds of the last week I have restricted my walks to my local Oatley Park Reserve which I have blogged many times over the years as a source of my local birds. It forms part of the important tree corridor allowing many bird species to navigate their course through busy suburban Sydney.
It also is permanent home to many territorial species, such as Kookaburra, Magpies, Currawongs, Rainbow Lorikeets, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Wattlebird, Noisy Miner, Australasian Swamphen, Pacific Black Duck, Chestnut Teal, Brown Thornbill, Superb Fairy-wrens and Eastern Water Dragon. This means that the predictability of finding particular birds around the same location is high, at certain times of the year, when they are not nesting or having to relocate because of drought. These Eastern Crimson Rosella are seen here mostly at this time of year eating seeds from the native Casuarina trees as well as grass seed which is in abundance here.
While some species have returned, many are yet to find their way back, now that we have had good rain for several months. The walk never gets boring seeing the same birds or lizards as there is always some interesting behaviour or activity taking place as they share the forest and interact, for example this stand off with the Kookaburra and the Noisy Miner which later comes to nothing. See how the Kookaburra is crouched low and making strong eye contact with the Miner.
Also, this male Kookaburra (on LHS) has caught a mouse and has been carrying it about for some time, not eating it. Notice the look on the Kookaburra looking on “Aren’t you going to give me any of that !?” I am wondering if this will be a courting gift for some female Kookaburra as breeding season approaches, as some couple will soon be occupying the white-ant nest nearby.
This jerky video will give you a better look at the prey. The riot of Kookaburras have just finished giving their territorial call. Notice its low grade call continuing like a car that is idling, and ready to rev into full call again. They often do this, and sometimes will keep their engine cycling over for several minutes sometimes priming the riot to break into another full on round, but it soon stops when it sees what his companion continues to carry around in its mouth. The first sound you hear is that of the grating call of the Wattlebird.
Here is a different perspective from the same shaky video. It took a while for me to find the group under the dark trees. Notice how the tail of the one idling his call moves up and down with the call. Also listen for the response in the distance of another riot or family group of Kookaburras declaring their territory in response to the call of this family riot.
Another bird which is commonly heard calling with its raspy grating call, which was heard in the recent video background is the Red Wattlebird, but this time of year we also see the Little Wattlebird, which has no visible wattle at all, but an unusual patterned chest. This one is hunting in the lower canopy of the eucalypt trees for lerps, as it is one of our largest honeyeaters. Notice the hole in the leaf, this is where part of the leaf has died due to the Psyllid larvae killing the leaf where it was lodged. You can just see some of the white lerps where the bird is about to eat which is covering a new larvae.
When special seasonal birds appear, it is always an incentive to do frequent walks. This year we have been looking out for the beautiful and rapid moving Rufous Fantail which moves up to us from the south this time of year for warmer weather, but so far we have seen none. I am concerned they may have been one of the victim species lost in the massive bushfires that consumed much of the forests further south late last year. To see this bird fan its tail in the sunlight is brilliant, that is, if you can catch it fast enough.
Though one bird we seldom see but are delighted when we do is the Variegated Fairy-wren (see feature photo above), which I saw last week on one walk, but a couple of days later I did not see at all. People can mistake this bright little bird, when it is in breeding plumage with its cousin the Superb Fairy-wren which shares the same habitat in our forests. Compare them here. You can see the different features in the colouring, with an additional chestnut band on the back of the Variegated bird, giving it its name.
What a delight to see this tiny insectivorous bird, which is found more inland than here with little family pockets along the coast.
Another bird we are seeing more of in our park as it forages among the reeds around the Ponds is a family of White-browed Scrubwren. These are also very rapid moving insectivorous birds which offer a challenge to the photographer. They always appear to have a serious or angry look on their face.
I did enjoy pursuing this family. Here are two young ones on a branch together wondering what to do.
Here is a quick clip to illustrate what I mean by their continuous fast movement.
Of course I seem to always see or hear the curious female Golden Whistler, and on some occasions see the shy male. These birds are often captured looking upward to the under canopy for food, which is quite a different parctice to other birds which just hang upside down to look.
The last species to showcase from my daily walks and is always found, regardless of season, ascending trees and calling with its sweet little purring sound is the tiny cute Brown Thornbill. Like other small insectivorous Australian birds such as the Fairy-wren and Scrubwren, have no need to migrate, as insects are always plentiful. These birds do cycles many times a day around their claimed territories, calling all the time they move to indicate that this is their territory to others of the same species, and to signal their location to other family members.
I love hearing the sound of this busy little bird every time I walk in my local reserve as it ascends the native Casuarinas.
Well our early Spring here has caused some beautiful wildflowers to appear, especially after the good rain we recently were blessed with.
I had to share this reflection on the still ponds.
In conclusion most birds were found foraging in the same area each day, with a few exceptions where either the bird was not found again, as it is rarer to see it, or it is in a part of its cycle away from the track. Each day always brings something fresh and new, especially when we go birding and ask God to reveal that something, and he always comes through for us.
If this is your first visit to my weekly birding blog, welcome ! While you are here why not check out the rest of my website. You can access it from my Home Page or the above menu. Also why not check out my book which uses the unusual behaviour of our Australian birds to learn helpful hints to live a healthy and happy life.
My thoughts from this weeks roaming of the local reserve come from this little female Chestnut Teal.
She is quite happy to wash and swim up and down this narrow channel while I stand only a few feet away and watch her, quite unperturbed. I posed her no threat and she perceived it, just like the one bold Noisy Miner that is almost a pet of mine, as he trusts me implicitly to watch him wash while I stand next to the bath. He often comes and sits on the chair back and looks at me as if he wants something, or wants to tell me something. All the other birds fly off as I emerge from the house, even the alpha male Magpie, the number one boss bird in our neighbourhood, but not this enthusiastic but trusting little Miner. Even if I make eye contact he does not leave, which is normally a threat to a bird, especially the intelligent Magpie, whom will not fly off if I walk past with my back to him.
Noisy mostly comes alone and shares his enjoyment of the swim with me by calling out to me. I have come to know his voice over time and will come out and watch him enjoy himself. He will look at me as he shakes himself off and stand for a moment and just look at me. He often leads the coalition to the baths and the others follow his lead. He visits throughout the day more than any other bird. I never feed him, just keep the baths filled and clean. He gets his food from our native flowers in our yard and nearby eucalypts.
Friendships are all based firstly on Trust, as are all loving relationships. Trust allows us to be at peace and be vulnerable in the company of those we trust. Living in trust and being trustworthy have health benefits, which is why surveys have shown that people who have trust based faiths and belief systems live longer happier lives. Trust, Faithfulness and Integrity go hand in hand and sadly are is being eroded daily from our Post Christian society, where a man’s word was as good as a signed contract. The adage still holds though: a man is as good as his word. As Jesus said long ago: “You know a tree by its fruit.”
“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.” – Matthew 12:33
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3: 5-6
“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me;” – Psalm 28:7
Enjoy your week and stay safe and sane ! Our hearts and prayers go out to all in lock-down and those suffering the grief of loss, be it family, friends, job or income.
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.’
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, 2020.