The cheeky laughing kookaburra. A true blue Ozzie icon. The Australian bush wouldn’t be the same without them.
Not only their striking appearance, but their distinctive call echoing throughout the forest. Just mind dazzling. Have you ever stared a kookaburra right in to his eyes?
I have and it was an incredible experience. This is what happened.
After yet another busy day exploring, I needed to procaffinate and catch my breath from what the Atherton Tablelands had to offer so far. I drove to Millstream Falls carpark, knowing that little traffic gave me peace of mind. Little did I know, that I had three lovey friends to join me for lunch.
Armed with coffee and sandwich I wandered around, when these kookaburras flew in one by one.
Nestling in a row of three, side by side, it felt like being in an Alfred Hitchcock movie. Wow. Easy fellas! They were obviously hungry and eyed out my sandwich. It was a bit intimidating. ‘Fair enough, I still had some bread in the car. But, there is one condition! You’ll will have to pick up your afternoon snack from Troopy’s bonnet. And I will have my OM-D handy.’
They must have heard my thoughts as they followed me one by one, sitting on a boulder altogether like the ‘Three Stooges’.
Kookaburras always come in three it seems, whenever there is a potential food source.
One of them must be the younger one, he looked a bit dazzled?
The first bit of bread was placed on the bonnet and it didn’t take long for the first contender to enter the show.
A perfect pick up, excellent balance skills too.
He swerved to his right and landed on the rock, under strict supervision. And quite superbly executed.
The other parent flew in from the left and caught me very much by surprise. Kiddo was still learning but eventually gathered his momentum.
Ok, my turn. Definitely not quite as skilled as his parents, he landed on the bonnet. I am not sure why he didn’t grab the crust.
Instead, his wings were fluffing in the wind. Poor thing was almost there, only an inch from his pecker.
He decided to abort mission, only to be laughed at by his parents. Young kookaburra must have been devastated. Was it stage fright? I did have a giggle to myself as well, that was an interesting effort.
There you go! No need to go hungry little one. What a cutie.
He still wasn’t sure about the reflections of his own face on my lens, he could have been part of the Muppet Show.
The other two kookaburras either wanted more food or were ready to strike a pose. Staging actors, ready to role.
We became close friends.
Quite close in fact.
There were a few poses, like ‘stare in the air’. How about ‘can you see that?’
I like ‘All clear here!’
‘Look over my shoulder!’
and my personal favourite! ‘Pirates in black and white!’
These kookaburras came up with their usual curious poses right in front of my lens and I kept my finger on the shutter button.
You already feel pierced by this look. I had taken so many photos already, it was fantastic.
All my favourite camera settings came in play, like sepia. Fabulous.
Youngster? Nope, still in freeze mode. He didn’t move much, which gave me a great opportunity for some kookaburra photos in an unexpected angle.
He stared right to my lens that I could focus on the tip of the beak, blurring out his face.
When he wasn’t staring at my lens, I looked right on to his head. The stripy outline of his head extending to his tiger-like tail.
Now that’s more like it, a curious kookaburra look. Something took his interest.
Just for a little while though.
What I really like about kookaburras are their feathered colours. The tail feathers are in tiger stripes, almost glowing in sunlight.
Their wings are spangled with blue painted dots on an eagle coloured back. Kookaburras are in the kingfisher family for good reason.
The colourful spectrum really only becomes obvious by closer inspection.
Their head is marked with three dark lines.
The outer ones include their eye sockets, acting just like a mask.
Gangsters or clowns of the eucalypts?
A solid and oversized pecker is a multi functional tool. Kookaburras love eating snakes and other reptiles.
The ground is carefully observed for potential prey. If the hunt was successful, prey gets slapped unconscious before being swallowed whole.
But then, there is how clever they are. This one is literally sitting on his bum, having a good laugh. And so was I.
We shook hands as it was time for me to go. No doubt that this won’t be my last photo session with the cheeky Koo-ka-bur-ra.