a birding adventure

To: <>
Subject: a birding adventure
From: "Matt Hughes" <>
Date: Fri, 8 Jun 2001 22:52:10 +1000

My son Madison (7) & I have a good thing going – I look out for him & he looks out for me. Before his increasing interest in birding, his focus was on animals – especially Australian native animals. ‘You look out for animals for me & I’ll look out for birds for you’ he would announce at the start of a bushwalk. His ‘Looking out’ has naturally extended to include his mother & younger brother & sister (mostly they are happy to be looked out for!).

I was on my way to the shops when I saw some Red-rumped parrots feeding in an open grassed area near the roadside. Knowing these were not on Maddie’s ever expanding list, I hoped that they would be there upon my return so I could take him along to have a good look. They weren’t but further along, in the front paddocks of a local female penitentiary / detention centre, were some Straw-necked ibis, again near the roadside, presenting good views and not on Maddie’s list. Shopping delivered, Madison, Aly (4) & Ryley (1) in the backseat, we were off on an adventure.

The Ibis were gone, except in the distance through the trees some white birds could just be seen. There were no signs prohibiting entry and presuming it to be a public road we drove in to get a better look. In the trees we heard & finally saw some White-plumed honeyeaters fussing about. Welcome swallows welcomed us further into the establishment. A White-faced heron acknowledged our presence from a small watercourse. Over a gentle rise not too far from a high fenced enclosure, were the Ibis with several more Herons, some Magpies & a pair of patrolling Masked lapwings. We stopped the car, wound down the windows and passed the ‘binocleaars’ around for all to see.

After a good look & a check to see what else was about we turned around & headed out pleased with our finds. Suddenly, an approaching car swerved across our path & blocked our progress. Out jumped a guard informing us that we had been observed using binoculars! We were questioned about what we were up to whilst simultaneously our car was searched from behind the ‘standard issue’ sunglasses. I explained that we were bird watching & that we were particularly interested in the Straw-necked ibis - Madison pointed them out. Our explanation was met with an incredulous look & I further explained that Madison, although a young boy, was quite interested in birds & that he hadn’t seen these before & was keen to do so. This finally seemed to be acceptable and we were cautioned on our way.

Next time we visit we may get to see another new listing – perhaps a ‘gaolbirdus escapii’ – who knows what will turn up when you look out for each other.

Matt Hughes

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