Every day brings something new at Seventy Seven Acres. This morning brought us some unexpected visitors to the garden. Two. Well three, really. A pair of gang-gang cockatoos and a king-parrot.
I had already supplemented my favourite burrawangs’ breakfast with a handful of meat scraps from last night’s dinner, and was standing at the kitchen window watching them squabble with a magpie family over who got what. This is a daily ritual with varying results. Sometimes Dusty (one of the burrawangs – a story all unto himself) outwits the magpies, and sometimes the magpies win. Occasionally the choughs arrive, outnumbering the burrawangs and magpies alike with the sheer size of their large and noisy family. And even more occasionally a large crow or two will shoulder in on the action.
Not today, though.
Dusty had tricked the magpies into thinking there was a tasty treat in the mulch pile (which there probably was – wood-roaches, caterpillars and centipedes abound) and was filling up with enough of our last night’s leftovers to take back to the nest.
I was watching, as I said, at the kitchen window, when a small grey shadow flew over garden and alighted in a large black wattle just by our back gate. This small grey shadow was soon joined by another, this one with a brightly plumed red head.
The gang-gangs had arrived.
It didn’t take long to fetch my camera, and I was soon sneaking warily across the back garden hoping to get a good shot without frightening them away. They were watching me as I focused the camera, zooming in a little, and I was watching them. Which is why I nearly jumped out of my skin when something flashed right past me at head height, missing me by a hair’s breadth! Not, as I first assumed, one of the magpies, upset by having breakfast disturbed, but by a cheeky king-parrot who settled on our pergola and blithely cleaned his beak at me as I hastily tried to get a picture of him.
Then I turned back to the project in hand, only to discover the gang-gangs had gone.
Except… they were now in the tree right beside me, and I had to un-zoom (a highly technical photographic term) in order to take their picture.
Not to be outdone, the king-parrot turned up on an even closer branch, demanding attention.
I don’t know if they thought I was going to feed them or something, but the two sets of visitors seemed to be vying with each other. I snapped a few quick shots, wondering just how close they would actually get!
With the photo shoot over I slipped away guiltily, wondering what I had in my pantry that might provide a prize for their friendly behaviour. I’m hoping that the slivers of over-ripe banana that I tossed out for them were what they had in mind.
Both gang-gangs and king-parrots are usually seed eaters, and I’m pretty certain that this is what the gang-gangs had been doing in the wattle tree before I turned up on the scene with my camera. They are gorgeous looking birds, smaller than the familiar white cockatoo, but with a croaky call a bit like a rusty hinge which is much quieter than their well-know cousin!
Of course, the king parrot is somewhat showier, and quite large in comparison to the gang-gangs. My field guide tells me that they are generally shy and easily put to flight. I don’t think this one had read the book.