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Published: September 17th 2016
My Aussie Backyard...the Birds.
I am woken by Lyrebirds...a cacophony of whoops of these mimics of the bush greeting the day. The calls of many birds from one spot gives them away. It's the beginning of spring and the number of times I've got close to getting a clear photo of their mating dance I cannot count. Cannot count but cannot give up...lie there wondering if they are close or far.
Can I beat yesterday?
I crouched on a rock overlooking seven lyrebirds...a veritable orchestra...some scratching the ground for grubs...three males strutting...their tail feathers raised over their backs...their white lyre plumage quivering for the females...tendrils of vines and undergrowth obstructing the focus on my camera so foliage in focus but the white lyres to my camera a blur.
Then I saw it...never seen this before...has anyone?
A male enters the circle of one of the males...both with plumage raised...beak to beak...tips of their plumage over their heads touching. Then they started whirling in a circle...dancing anti-clockwise...round and round...on and on...each jumping to their right in precision...synchronised swimmers got nothing on these guys.
One male gets tired and moves away.
A female takes
his place and starts running around the strutting male...clockwise as I recall.
I think one of the seven has seen me as they start to move away.
I check my playback and all the pics show the two males but the white lyres out of focus on expanding. At least my images are proof of what I've seen but wish they were sharp and clear.
Time to give up. A wildlife photographer I will never be. I just don't have the patience.
It took me two months to get a decent image of one dancing so persistence does pay off.
So I crawl out of bed and determine to try just once more...careful to not wake Denise.
Maybe today I will be lucky. Each day is a maybe. Maybe today will be my day.
But deep down I know. A wildlife photographer I will never be.
Our home backs onto Berowra Valley National Park on the northern outskirts of Sydney...miles of bush at our backdoor and Sydney's deepest gorge with Berowra Creek that flows into the Hawkesbury River.
So many trees Telsta says that's the reason our
mobile phone coverage is crap. Don't believe that's the reason but that's another story.
I grab my camera and head off into the bush...lyrebirds calling from three directions.
A black swamp wallaby crashes through the bush to my left so I'm distracted in my quest. It's a big one too. Last time one hopped in front of me with it's joey hopping behind. Impossible to photograph. Just ask Josevich. I saw three with Josevich when he visited my place on his visit to Sydney from the Philippines. A brown one nearly collided with us in the bush. Don't know who got the biggest shock. Gone before we could raise our cameras.
A jogger runs onto the rock platform behind me and dwells awhile...then emerges and asks me if I like to photograph. The wallaby beats a deeper retreat...the lyrebird calls increasing in intensity.
He tells me he is aboriginal and his mob originated in this area.
"Do you know we have corroborees in the valley every six months?" he asks and tells me approximately where. I do not ask when but wish I had.
He tells me that a grandfather from seven generations ago
danced on that rock and saw the serpent.
"The serpent from the Dreamtime?" I ask.
He nods. "Everytime I come this way I visit the rock to pay my respects," he says.
I clarify with him which part of the rock platform is the sacred rock.
Wow. It is Denise's and my favourite place in the bush behind our house for reflection.
Now I know why we feel it has the aura of a sacred place.
'Cause it really is sacred. It really is!!!
Sometimes I'm woken by kookaburras...their raucous laughter ringing through the gum trees. It will rain within 36 hours I remember from my childhood...or is that only when they laugh in late afternoon?
Sometimes it is a chorus of birds greeting the dawn...like a blanket of song greeting the sunrise.
Might wake me but it's a sound that I do not mind.
But sometimes it's that bloody Wattlebird whooping at our bedroom window. I thought Scott our neighbour said he was going to shoot it. Yet in Oz we don't carry guns for protection...only ones with guns are police, licenced shooters or outlaws.
Someone should shoot that bloody Wattlebird though!
And as I munch my morning cereal comes the sound I love. Every morning and every evening hundreds of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos fly over our house and some regularly drop by to visit.
How lucky are we? Our house is under their flight path from and to their night roost in the valley...raucous cries ringing through the gorge morning and evening...bringing dread to some...but to us daily joy...except when they try to eat our house! You'd reckon by their size and numbers they'd be in charge at our place.
But the bosses at our place are the Rainbow Lorikeets...might be small but they are fearless...telling the cockatoos to back off.
There are sounds like a fight in that gum tree over there...the bird police...the Noisy Miners swooping in packs at the magpie, peewee or bird of prey that flew into their territory.
The sound of babies crying as Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos fly over...usually a handful but one time I saw about one hundred...another time a pair of Red-tailed Black Cockatoos that are rare this far south.
A Brush Turkey struts down our driveway and into the backyard. One
day we found one on our kitchen bench crunching a blini with cream cheese and capers...discarding the smoked salmon but smiling as it tucked in. Sometimes we get two brush turkeys...joined at the hip...strutting as if on a mission...our cats hiding as if ready to pounce. But they are not that stupid!
A Whipbird darts in a bush near our deck...it's call cutting through the air like a stockwhip. A Bronze Dove settles waiting for the lorikeets to disperse. A King Parrot cruising by to say "Hi"...the male with it's vivid orange coat...it's female green-mottled and shy.
The Dollarbird surveying the scene from the tallest lookout. The warbles of the Australian Magpie reminding us of the sounds of a bubbling brook, a tree fern dell, that spring is coming.
It's look-a-like Currawong except with black bill and yellow-ringed eyes wanting to pinch that piece of apple from the lorikeets.
The Magpie, Currawong, Friar Bird, Olive-backed Oriole, Whipbird and Kookaburra are the iconic sounds of the Australian bush at our place.
But then a Crimson Lorikeet calls from the tree above...an Eastern Lorikeet in the tall grasses down there...a Pee-wee (Pied Magpie) complaining as the Noisy
Miners gang up to chase it away...honey eaters darting in and out of the spring flowers.
The sky rings with the squarks of the masses...signals from the Sulphur-crested Cockatoos heading home...settling in that tree by the hundreds...then off into the valley and towards the sun heading towards the western horizon...clouds brought to scarlet and orange life...sunsets like no other...bringing down a curtain on another fabulous day.
And as dusk settles the frogs start their chorus...the odd owl with it's hoot hoot.
Time passes. When the air is still and the rustle of the breeze in the gum trees decides it is time to sleep...the Tawny Frogmouth calls..."mo-poke, mo-poke, mo-poke...is anyone there?"
Relax & Enjoy,
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