Sunday, July 08, 2007

Early Morning Raid

Saturday morning dawned wet and heavily overcast, so I had, what for me is a very rare event, a lie in. 8.30 found me dressing and pondering over the day ahead, when I heard a Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo call. Knowing that a local Starling gives a very good rendition of the Yellowtail's call, I continued to dress. Almost immediately I heard a shout "there are cockatoos in the garden". What followed would have made an interesting video, as I chased around for the camera, then realising I was still only half dressed and no condition to be charging round the garden. Reaching the back door sockless, but past caring, pulling on my still drying gumboots (from my Lauderdale excursion), I stepped out. Back inside! It was pelting down with rain! Try again with bush hat and coat! I was at least relieved to see 2 of what proved to be a flock of 7 birds, still feeding on the nearest banksia. Rather belatedly, I found the conditions for photography to be close to useless, but I'm beginning to conclude that I'm a serial bird photographer, so I pressed on. I was actually able to get quite close to them, as you can see in the accompanying shots, but that couldn't make up for the poor conditions. Watching them feed, I found that they were clipping the flower heads off and 'licking' the nectar, sometimes flying briefly, still holding a flower. Several times they flew between our two Banksia integrifolia, often only a few feet above my head, and it was this that attracted a neighbour. He rushed outside (still in shirt sleeves!), shouting to his wife (loud enough for most of the neighbourhood to hear) , marvelling at their size and grace. I've never heard a non birding person get quite so excited! I suspect that it was all this commotion that finally caused the birds to move on. I hope that before the Winter's over, they'll pay another visit, perhaps in better photographic conditions. If you're wondering why I referred to their visit as a 'raid', you should see the pile of banksia flowers under the trees.
As I towelled myself and my gear down, back inside, I wasn't sure what I had derived more pleasure from. The presence of the Yellowtails in the garden, or the genuine excitement that my neighbours had got from seeing them so close for the very first time!
[Upper shot shows male Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo, lower, female]


Anonymous said...

Hi Alan,
Loverly shots, given your conditions. They're funny birds - sometimes 'spooking' at the slightest provocation, and other times letting you almost reach out and touch them. I'm glad they gave you such a show - and I'm also glad they gave your neighbour such pleasure. I had last weekend in Rockhampton, with some pretty good birding (around work), including 2 'lifers'. One of the special events was seeing a family of three Glossy Black Cockatoos up close, though sadly it was almost dark, so the only shots were next to useless.

Snail said...

That's a mischievous look in the first shot!