Posts Tagged ‘kingfishers’
Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfishers (Tanysiptera sylvia) are spectacularly beautiful and famously evasive. Arriving en masse into the Wet Tropics for mating, at or around the last week of October each year, these Austro-Papuan intra-tropical migrants grace the rainforests of the Daintree for the warmer six months of the year.
Photographed last night at 4 minutes past 11.00 pm, this adult Little Kingfisher (Alcedo pusilla) was found roosting over an unnamed tributary feeder to Cooper Creek. Along with the Azure Kingfisher, they are the only Australian members of the Alcedo Kingfishers, which specialise at deep diving into water for their prey.
Like most birds that I see at night, this Azure Kingfisher (Alcedo azurea) was roosting strategically on the distal end of isolated vegetation, to forecast the vibrations of predators. In this instance, the climbing bamboo (Bambusa moreheadiana) provided safe harbour.
What was most unusual, though, was the sighting itself; being only my second of such a species in fourteen years of almost nightly scrutiny. The first, many years ago, was overhanging a section of Cooper Creek, where they are seen frequently throughout the day. In this sighting, the bird was quite a distance up an officially un-named tributary feeder creek, but perfectly positioned for a photograph.
I find it very significant that such a beautifully conspicuous plumage can remain so well hidden over the years. As an individual species, how can its part in the natural landscape be understood and appreciated when it is so adept at concealment? Its importance to other species and the interrelationships that define its ecological character are even less accessible.
The longer I persevere with my immersion into this ancient and secretive world, the more insurmountable its complexity becomes. Very clearly, one lifetime will not be enough. I take a degree of comfort from the obvious advantage of my children, benefiting from the contribution of the knowledge that their parents and grandparents are able to impart, but additionally, from the knowledge that they gain from their own observations and interrelationships. With only three generations I can see the growing accumulation of intellectual property.
Just imagine the intellectual insight of two-thousand generations accrued by Australia’s indigenous people, the longest surviving human culture in the world.
Any day now, the rainforests of the Daintree will resound of the arrival of the Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher Tanysiptera sylvia. They are very punctual arriving in the last week of October, first week of November, each year. The males industriously excavate upwardly climbing tunnels into terrestrial termite mounds and upon breaching the internal cavity, rely upon the resident colony of termites to congeal the inner wall of the would-be incubating chamber. The female kingfisher will reject the proposal unless the termites have played their part.