16 July, 2011

Kookaburras, Cameras and Caches

Laughing Kookaburra at Queen's Park
On a few rare occasions as I have walked along the river, I have heard a kookaburra laughing from the trees; once or twice in the Newtown area of Geelong and once out of town. Prior to the last few days however, I had never never actually managed to see one on the river, but as I climbed out of the car at Queen's Park on the trail of yet another geocache, I heard a familiar sound. Fortunately I had my camera to hand (playing the ammateur photographer makes a convenient cover when hanging around the one spot for extended periods of time - often a requirement when scrounging around in the undergrowth looking for some obscure plastic container, designed not to be found).
A quick scout around and I soon located the source of the call, sitting - yes, you guessed it - in a gum tree. The  cache unfortunately was nowhere near as easily located.
The kookaburra (more correctly, the Laughing Kookaburra) is a larger member of the kingfisher family. It is quite distinctive in both voice and appearance and therefore not easily confused with other birds, except with the Blue-winged Kookaburra which is found in the north of the country.
The word kookaburra is believed to have come from the Aboriginal word guuguuburra used by the Wiradjuri people of New South Wales. It is considered onomatopoeic, meaning the word mimics the sound of the bird's call which is not actually a "laugh" but usually a territorial warning to other birds to stay away. Family groups will often "sing" together in a chorus.
Laughing Kookaburra on the Barwon River
This particular specimen appeared to be alone and was happy enough to just sit and watch me while I snapped my shots and scrambled around under the bridge, trying no doubt unsuccessfully, not to look suspicious. It on the other hand, was doing a much better job of blending in with its surroundings, perched on a dead branch looking, I imagine, for its next meal - an insect or worm or perhaps something larger like a frog or even a small bird. Hopefully the small snakes, which are also a preferred food source, are in fairly short supply at this time of year!
Kookaburras I discover, can be rather brutal in dispensing with their larger prey, beating the happless animals to death against a conveniently located firm object such as the ground or a tree branch.
I don't know how long it stayed in the tree, but there was no sign of my new feathered friend the following day at which point I did eventually find what I was looking for.

No comments:

Post a Comment