Monday Moments: Bird’s Eye View

Cockatoos would have to be one of the least-bothered birds I’ve come across. Perhaps it is because they are usually wheeling about in large, raucous numbers, but even when spotted on their own they tend to hold their ground and show little concern for what humans might be doing around them. This one was spotted as part of a larger flock dotted throughout a chestnut tree, having a lovely time snacking. They are well-known for razing food sources, chewing away until there is nothing left.

Cockatoo in chestnut tree

Cockatoo in chestnut tree

Kookaburras are my favourite bird. A small family of them were spotted by chance during a recent trip to Wiseman’s Ferry in Sydney’s north. Their solid little bodies look too heavy for their feet but in flight they are swift and graceful. They have very sharp beaks and are fierce hunters in the bush.

Kookaburra

Kookaburra

I had chatted with a pair of emus in the Hartley Valley back when I was doing the I Spy quest. Apart from their beautiful brown eyes and inquisitive natures, I had been taken by the deep clucking sound that they make. They are so used to people stopped to say hello that they approached me without concern to see if I had anything interesting to offer.

Emu

Emu

One of my books from childhood had a rainbow lorikeet on the cover, and it still amazes me how vibrant their colours are. This one, spotted in a suburban back yard, was feasting on a large shrub in-between rain squalls.

Rainbow lorikeet

Rainbow lorikeet

King parrots got a mention recently when I was listening to background noises. They are another bird who will look you in the eye as they chew away on whatever is currently in season. This one was perched up high in a pine tree and I could hear it chomping away before I could spot it, even with the bright plumage.

King parrot

King parrot

Last but not least is this magpie, watching me closely whilst perched on a bench seat.

Magpie

Magpie

Have you spotted anything lately from a bird’s-eye view?

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Background Noise

This weekend there has been maintenance work carried out along the railway lines in the Blue Mountains. This isn’t an unusual occurrence, but it has made me more mindful of the noises in the background. The railway lines are a couple of blocks away, but the sound of the railway carries much further than that, particularly when the wind is casting the acoustics further afield.

It isn’t that I don’t like the sound of the railway – the opposite is true. I like to pick up the light clatter of the passenger trains, or the heavier groan of the freight and coal trains as they rumble along. Twice a day there are the swifter rattles of the XPT, and the weekly passing of the long Indian Pacific. But in the absence of the railway noise, other noises come into focus.

Bird life is plentiful in the mountains, and on a soft, damp day like today it is mainly magpies and king parrots in close proximity. The parrots tend to feed in brightly plumaged clusters in trees, neatly nibbling away at seeds high up in the trees. The cackle of kookaburras carries from a distance, along with the swooping squeal of cockatoos.

Traffic sounds from the highway include the whine and moan of trucks, always on the move. Most car and bike noises are subdued in comparison for the most part. There is the occasional hum of a plane, somewhere above the low cloud cover.

Closer to home the breeze plucks a tune from a bamboo wind chime, a soft plunking sound on the air. The rainwater tank is full and there is a methodical tinkle as the overflow is caught in a container. People walking past chatter and laugh, or speed past on bikes. Dogs in the neighbourhood holler out greetings or warnings, their calls picked up along the roadway like a raucous Chinese whisper. Then the rain starts again, a soft settling upon the roof.

What makes up your background noise?

[Photo: glimpse of a king parrot]