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.
Travelling further north in Far North Queensland we spent a night at Mission Beach where it is known one would see the world’s most dangerous and Australia’s second largest flightless bird, the Southern Cassowary. All visitors to the top end are warned ‘Be wary of the Cassowary’ not so much because of the bony head piece or casque, but because of their huge clawed feet with three toes, the innermost having a huge claw which it uses to attack. After tearing open the victim they jump on them. They have been known to bang on doors and break glass to get entry, or to attack their own reflection.
It is one of the few birds that can and has killed humans and animals when provoked. We were at Mission Beach on the weekend of the Cassowary Festival, but not one bird could be seen. However there are signs all along the road warning of recent Cassowary crossings. A friend gave us a tip off to go to nearby Etty Beach and that is where these photos came from. A pair quite tame birds, did the rounds for food in the caravan park, hiding out on nearby private property. This video shows how tall they can stand when picking fruit.
Humans driving cars are the reason numbers are depleting, including depleted habitat. When people feed wild animals they come to them for more food. A car means humans means food, to a unsuspecting Cassowary, which results in death, as you can see by the sign warning below. These birds are fruit eaters, and it has recently been realised they are most important in maintaining the integrity of rainforest by pooing out the seeds from the fruit they eat at various locations. When these birds are gone the rainforest may start to deplete itself of new growth and die.
Another lifer, the Pheasant Coucal, was sighted from quite a distance coming out of the rainforest for a moment and I managed to get one shot before it saw me and fled. I had seen these beautiful birds several times flying off into the forest as I drove along the road A tourist from the Czech Republic joined me as we tried to find the bird. Click on photos to enlarge them.
Leaving the coast we made our up into the hinterland of the famous Atherton Tablelands where the thickest rainforest exists, and the home of the Tree Kangaroo which we managed to see in the pouting rain. We had to go over unsealed rough roads with the hire care at only 20 km/hr, but we were determined and praying the whole way that the car would be OK, and thankfully it was. It was pouring rain most of the time up there, and this footage was taken high up in the light deprived canopy.
Lumholtz’s Tree Kangaroo is the species found almost exclusively in this region. Papua and New Guinea also have their own species. They feed on leaves and fruit from the native forest. Their very long tail has no visible function as it does not grab or hold, it just hangs down. This was a lifer in the wild for us both. Unlike other kangaroos it spends its life in rainforest trees where it seldom comes down, but to relocate to food sources.
While up in the Atherton area we actually stayed in an Eco Lodge deep in the rainforest, where each morning and night we not only heard the rain and the the strange sounds of the rainforest birds calling, but actually got to feed some of the regular visitors to our cabin. The two lifers that came to visit were the Spotted Catbird and the female Victoria Riflebird. Sadly the colorful male Riflebirds are usually further north this time of year. The chubby Lewins Honeyeater, a rainforest bird we are well acquainted with down south was our most frequent visitor, eating pieces of fruit we put out on the railing, as we sat and sipped our wine and cheese.
Apologies for the visual noise in the video clip as it was quite dark facing into the rainforest most of the time, especially in the rain. Most of the rainforest birds, and in fact most Australian birds are fruit eaters, nectar eaters, insect eaters and Lerps eaters, but for rainforest birds native fruits and insects are thew main diet..
Each morning we were awakened to the sounds of the Catbird calling and the Orange-footed Scrubfowl. You can’t mistake the loud Catbird sound which woke us up, and the Scrubfowl is making the unusual loud warbling cackle occasionally and some other bird is making the regular single note chime. It sounded like this…
We did manage to see an Orange-footed Scrubfowl digging outside of the forest while the common Australian Brush Turkey wandered around. The Brush Turkey is very brazen and has no fear, it would try and steal the food we put out for the shy rainforest birds. They are a problem in Sydney also for destroying gardens and building their mounds in unpopular places.
Australian Brush Turkey females
Australian Brush Turkey females
Australian Brush Turkey females
The Little Shrike-thrush was a common bird here in the rainforest also, it was frequenting the gardens of the Eco lodge.
While near Atherton we took drive to famous Hastie’s Swamp a great haven for waterbirds, and always full of Plumed Whistling Ducks, they were there in their hundreds whistling away.
They are a beautiful looking bird, the males have the larger longer plumes, and a true flock bird. We saw many of these birds in various places on our travels far north.
Plumed Whistling Duck male
Plumed Whistling Duck
Plumed Whistling Duck
Plumed Whistling Duck
Plumed Whistling Duck
Plumed Whistling Duck
Plumed Whistling Duck
Several families of Pink-eared Duck and a few only of Australia’s rarest endemic waterfowl, the Freckled Duck, which is not normally seen this far north. Freckled Duck but they like usual, being shy of humans were some distance and sleeping on the water as you will see in my one good shot below..
Freckled Duck sleeping
You can learn more about the Pink-eared Duck from reading my book “What Birds Teach Us” which you can order here online. Visit my BirdBook page to find out more. Thank you so much everyone for your wonderful reviews, so glad it is blessing people of all ages.
Also, if you have not visited my new Special Sightings page and seen my latest entrythePowerful Owl(male and female), Australia’s largest owl, we saw last weekend, with Possum prey hanging on display from beneath the talon of the maleclick here.and I’ll take you there.
You may remember this sequence of events in the first video clip of this post…
The lesson I learn from the Southern Cassowary is that so called human kindness can be to the dire detriment of the bird. No matter how tame the bird might appear to be, this camper is doing the right thing in preventing the bird from stealing his food, he as the saying goes being cruel to be kind by discouraging the bird from coming to humans for handouts, which is the main cause of them being killed on roads, as well as attacking people and destructively breaking into houses. Notice how this man wisely rebuked the bird standing behind the table and making minimum eye contact. It was the following picture, my wife took, which caused me to see the spiritual aspect in all this.
Here in this photo man and wild bird have respect and lack of fear for each other, the man appreciating this special moment with this bird which is capable of killing him if it felt threatened or become aggressive demanding food. Many of Australia’s territorial birds are aggressive. As an aside: Australia has the largest percentage of aggressive birds in the world, and it is partly due to their diet and their territorial controls, as they compete for nectar, lerps and fruit. You are more likely to be attacked by a bird in Australia than any where else, and other birds and other animals are included as victims.
Interesting enough, the above picture occurs after the above series of the man chastising the bird for trying to steal his food. Today, sadly, we are seeing many problems with youth not having respect and consideration for others. This selfishness is partly due to the lack of discipline the parents have not employed during the child’s formative years. The secular humanistic philosophieswhich have departed from the life principles of the Creator has contributed to this. The spare the rod and spoil the child has come about because many parents disciplined out of anger, frustration and cruel punishment instead of out of loving correction, which uses a bare minimum of physical corrective contact while the child is very young. As with the Cassowary, when a child is allowed to always have its way, and becomes dependent on us to give it what it wants, we set a pattern for their future downfall in life, leading to possible depressive and loveless mindset, and in some cases suicide (internalized rage) or violent anger (externalized rage). As parents we need to firstly model the behaviour we want for our children by loving them, and the most important way we can do this is to love our spouse, for this is what they will learn more so than words, as the old adage says: it is better felt than telt. We teach our children and grandchildren more from how we live and speak than from anything we tell them to do, or even discipline them for. All discipline is meant in to be loving correction of bad behaviour BEFORE it gets out of hand, not for our own gain, but for the overall future good of the child. The types of discipline change with the growing child. God himself does the same with me, as she shapes my life and disciplines me when I become selfish and do things in a way detriment to his best for my life.
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all.Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live!They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.’ – Hebrews 12: 5-11 (NIV)
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)