I was lying in bed this morning listening to the sounds of the birds singing to the sunrise and it hit me. I hadn’t heard kookaburras for a while, and couldn’t even remember the last place I heard them.
Normally kookaburras are the first ones up in the mornings. I know that if I wake up in the dark and I hear kookaburras, the sunrise isn’t far away.
Galahs and corellas, which seem to be plentiful everywhere, wait until sunrise before they start their playing and singing. Well, some call it singing, with corellas it’s more like squawking and sqealing at each other like naughty toddlers as they fly from tree to tree in massive flocks.
As I’m sure you all know by now, I love watching birds. And even though I got a book of Australian birds that I’ve been wanting forever (or at least since our trip to the Cape), it’s an enormous, hard cover encyclopedia, too big to take away in the ute. I’m still after a good handbook that I can take everywhere with me. (Ellen – if you’re reading this what was the name of your book? I remember 6th edition but can’t remember who wrote it.)
Every time I go somewhere I see some amazing birds. Last trip it was a big flock of red-tailed black cockatoos on the Darling River at Wilcannia. This time it was a flock of Major Mitchell cockatoos south of Jundah, near the Barcoo River.
Doc and I camped by the Barcoo last time we were up this way and it was beautiful. We pulled up and looked through the gum trees lining the river to see an amazing number of birds flying in and out, resting on the river and diving for fish, or chasing each other through the gum trees. The shags were sunning their wings on the bank opposite. As we were getting ready to leave again we watched a lone emu drinking from the billabong. It drank so long and so deep that I expected to see a hump appear on its back.
This time, though we didn’t camp there, I stopped on the crossing to show Helen the beauty of the river. The deep billabong was still there, with gum trees reflecting white trunks in the water. On the other side, the river meandered slowly over the rocks, forming still pools in the rocky ledges.
And as we came up the rise we saw a family of emus wandering slowly across the road, and on the other side of the road there was a lone kangaroo standing perfectly still, watching us. Aah, the magic Barcoo, it might just take over from the Darling River as my favourite river.
We travelled for a few more kilometres and saw a flock of birds in the trees by the road
“White cockies” I said, then, as I saw the pink underneath “No, they’re galahs.”
Then we looked again “Major Mitchell’s” we both exclaimed
Major Mitchell Cockatoos were our holy grail this trip. They used to be (and hopefully aren’t any more) trafficked for lots of money, so that many died or were tortured being packed into small containers for long trips overseas. As far as I know they’re not that common, and lots of travellers we’ve spoken to haven’t seen them in the wild, although they’ve tried.
And now we have. We even saw a lizard on the road, the first one of the trip.
And the kookaburras, where have they gone? It seems they are around, but out in the Territory and in outback Queensland they’re not the same kookaburras we get in NSW. These ones don’t laugh – or at least not like the ones at home. The kookaburras up here have a more musical and softer laugh, and if you listen carefully you can still hear it. They are here after all.