Talking Kookaburras Love The 'Big Eye'
Weather permitting, I like to visit the chicks on their first few days out of the nest. Partly because I can't wait to see them closer and make friends and partly to take some photographs. On Josie's (Maggie and Vicky's seventh kid) fifth day out of the nest, I trooped towards their 'nursery' armed with my camera and some bread for all the other birds who might want a snack. Wendy, her older sister (1 year old) called out to me. She was on sentry duty. The eagles had been chased out of the area by the birds a couple of times this morning already - (click here to view video). Vicky and Sophie seemed to busy elsewhere. The minnies (noisy-miners) were re-building nests after losing their young ones in the storms and Wendy was feeling a bit lonely and bored of keeping vigil. I took some photographs of her, much to her thrill. I found Vicky incubating her second clutch, quite content to have me hovering around below. Maggie called me from the distance. He was sitting on a fallen log. Josie was nowhere to be seen and Sophie was fortifying her nest. The ground was wet from the recent rain (return of a relic from a forgotten past) and I told Maggie, 'I'm not going to roll under the fence today to see Josie'. So, he came up to me took some bread, flew over to a big tree. I could hear Josie's voice coming from behind the thick trunk and thought, 'Oh no, I'm not going to get any shots today'. When, Maggie walks out in front with Josie in tow and feeds her in front of me, so I could get my photographs after all! What a treat - Dad and babe posing to my heart's content (click here to view the slideshow).
On my way back, madam Wendy calls me again. Getting her human friend to photograph her was her latest form of entertainment so it seemed. I put all my gear down, pulled out the camera and took some more shots, all the time thinking, 'the things I do to indulge this bird!' When Kookie kookaburra flew past. I took some photographs of her as well, but they didn't come out too well because she was so well camouflaged amongst the foliage. I thanked her for not flying away and asked her to sit closer next time. Collecting all my gear, I turned towards home. Barely a few steps on, I was stopped short. Someone was clearing their throat very softly - sort of the way the kookaburras do when they are getting ready for a big laugh - but this was quiet. I looked around and saw nothing. So I took another step forward. The sound repeated, much louder now. I could still see nothing. So I said, 'I can't see you, where are you?' A head appeared on the side of branch above me. It was a young kookaburra, looking at me shyly, wanting to know why I hadn't photographed him/her! So cute. I had to put everything else down, pick up the camera and take some shots. The bird posed for me from all directions. The only problem was the angle of the light on a cloudy day and the fact that I had the teleconverter lens which does not focus very well in the glare. But I did get some good pictures. This is the first time a kookaburra has actually initiated a conversation with me. I think the bird has been watching Wendy's interaction with us and wanted some of the same. What a lovely reward for indulging Miss W. It never ceases to amaze me, even after so many incidents that the birds always find a way of giving me something. Even though they have no idea what a camera does for us, they know that the big eye pointed at them has some meaning for us, so they want to give us that opportunity.