I spend a lot of time in my study, which has a sliding door leading out to a balcony. A few weeks ago I noticed a kookaburra sitting on my balcony railing. Kookaburras are common on the east coast of Australia, but not on my balcony. I quickly grabbed my smart-phone, gently opened the door, and snatched a sneaky, blurry, photo of her (I think it is a she).
I was put in mind of her last week when I got into a conversation about kingfishers with fellow blogger Agnes Ashe. Kingfishers and Kookaburras are related, and even though there are several varieties in each species, the only one I am familiar with is the laughing kookaburra, and if you play the sound clip in the link you will understand why it is called that! The clip runs for about 50 seconds, and I recommend you listen to at least the first twenty.
It turns out that one of our residents has taken up photography, and had also had a “visitation”. So here is a slideshow of some vastly superior photographs, courtesy of Michael Rayner.
Kookaburras are carnivorous and adventurous. One time, at an outdoor barbecue, just as we were lifting the first sausage off the cook-plate and into a bread roll, a nearby bird swooped and scooped it out. He belted it against a tree as if killing a snake and then gobbled it straight down, showing a little shock at the heat of it, but persisting! This was one bird who had never heard “sharing is caring”.
I suspect the reason the pictured Kookaburra started visiting us is because our extensive gardens were severely pruned back, and that would have reduced the cover for lizards and other yummy food treats. Perched high on the balconies, Miss Kooka could survey the smorgasbord below her. The pruning also reduced the nectar for parrots, and they had not been around for a long time, whereas before we had swarms of them. Yesterday, however, I saw my first pair of rainbow lorikeets return. Actually, you hear their screeching and chattering well before you spot the bird! And I am happy to say that the gardener is well aware of what food they like, and his replanting has taken that into consideration. Here are some photos of Rainbow Lorikeets that I took on a road trip to Tamworth last year.
Thinking of Kookaburras and Kingfishers has given me two flashbacks to primary school days. One is singing the round “Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree” (written by Marion Sinclair) in a combined school choir performance at the Sydney Town Hall, and the other is the first poem I ever wrote, just before my twelfth birthday. Our wonderful teacher had introduced us to free verse (poetry that does not rhyme or have a regular rhythm). Having such restrictions lifted from my shoulders gave birth to a torrent of creativity. And if some of my readers feel that last phrase was purple prose, wait till you read this. I suspect I must have been reading Wind in the Willows (Kenneth Grahame) at the time.
Rivers Calm, quiet and still is the river, a gentle blue like that of the sky on a clear day. Surrounded by lush, green grass. Tall, sweeping willows line its fair banks. Kingfishers hover silently over the swans so purely white and kingly as they glide. A racing, rushing, bubbling river, sparkling in the sun. Tumbling over rocks swift and rapid. Angry at their firmness. The waterfall too is seething with anger, as it flows down the steep incline, to end in a foaming mass of white far below. Slow and lazy is the stream, as it twists and winds on its way to the main river. Trickling over pebbles on a sandy bed. How pretty it is!
I think it wasn’t too bad for a first attempt, but I did give up writing poetry a few years later, and never took it up again.