Cicadas crescendo in the thick of the bush. Clouds of white corellas screech and rise above. I was hoping to see Bunjil, the mighty wedgetail eagle that is at the heart of the indigenous legend of this beautiful park. Instead I met this cheeky Kookaburra who happily posed for me for an hour.
The Kookaburra is a much-loved Australian bird, their visits always welcomed by all, their laughter copied by children from an early age. Their arrival at our beach camp and school by the sea invariably brings happiness and joy, as older folk fumble about for their cameras.
As the weather cools, especially if rain is predicted, their visits become more frequent. On wet days, they man each fence post surrounding our vegetable garden back at home, like sentries on duty, waiting for worms to emerge from the mud. Their call is often a seasonal indicator.
The name comes from Wiradjuri language, guuguubarra, onomatopoeic of its call. One can imagine the alarm and perhaps fear experienced by the early imperialists of Australia on hearing for the first time, the cacophonous laughter of the kookaburra, a bird call so exotic and alien to their English consciousness.
They are my favourite bird, not so much for their call but for their cute haircut, hints of blue feathering, and hunting knowledge, seen in their alert eyes.
I’m supposed to be packing for a short road trip, making some biscuits and treats for the journey and generally getting organised. But there are a few distracting characters at my back door and kitchen window dropping in for a chat. How did these Birdie Num Nums become my new best friends? They stand on the outside ledge of the kitchen window and watch me wash up, then follow me around the house. Mr T walks to the garden: they fly by his shoulder and sing good morning in his ear. They sit in the nearest Melia tree, like sparkling red and green Christmas baubles, singing or chatting to each other or to us. Sometimes they ask for a handout of sunflower seeds: mostly they are just looking, thankyou.
washing basket and num nums
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
King Parrot at my kitchen window.
Strictly speaking, the title of Num Nums is reserved for the visiting gregarious King Parrots. We have many other visitors to our veranda. The loud, raucous hoodlums of the bush, the Sulphur- Crested Cockatoos are welcome if they behave themselves. I noticed a couple of Cockies grooming each other the other day and as I got closer, I became convinced that one was applying special Cocky gel to the other one’s yellow crest.
This well-behaved lone Cocky, looking like some lovely white garden prop, was an early morning visitor.
There are other less frequent visitors: Crimson Rosellas, Corellas, Galahs, Kookaburras, wild Wood ducks, Wattle birds with their scratchy, ex- smokers chatter, the mysterious lone Sacred Heron ( always too shy for a photo) and the smaller hovering honey eating birds, the Eastern Spinebill and the New Holland Honey eater, always in a flutter.
These characters come to remind me about the country life I love, as I toy with the idea of a move to the city. Thank you Birdie Num Nums and Friends.
I include the link below to a wonderful fragment of an old Peter Sellers film, The Party, which may help to explain the title of this post to those who haven’t had the joy of seeing this film before.
The March equinox occurred in Melbourne at 8.45 am this morning, just as I crawled out of the dark canvas cave of my camper trailer. Magpies and Wattle birds sing, celebrating the gentle day ahead.
In harmony with the date, the temperature will reach 21 degrees celsius, ( 69.8 F) – too cool to swim, yet perfect weather to walk along wild beaches. Autumn in Victoria, Australia, is my favourite season. The days are fresh but warm, the nights a little chilly. Birds sing and hunt, plants enjoy the overnight moisture and flower anew.
Kookaburras have become rather friendly this Autumn.
The wild back beach of Gunnamatta forms part of the Mornington Peninsula National Park. It is hard to believe that this wilderness is only 75 minutes drive from Melbourne. We are the only visitors.