Sunday, 21 June 2015

NT Road Trip 2015: Part 13: Red-tailed Black-cockatoos

Day 14 -- Katherine

As anyone with a passion knows, when absorbed by your past-time, real time can fly by. You say, "Just a few more minutes. A Gouldian Finch may arrive. If I leave five minutes late, I can drive a bit faster and still be on time for tea". This being the case, I left Fergusson River about 6 o'clock to be 50 kms away in Katherine by 6.30 to go out to the RSL for a meal. Easy on a road without much traffic with a speed limit of 130 kph. I stopped to turn left onto the new highway but had to wait as three livestock road trains, each with three trailers, lumbered past heading towards Katherine. Oh dear. Overtaking one road train can be fraught and takes a couple of kilometres of clear road in front. I had three to overtake and they are limited to 100 kph and, it has to be said, the truck drivers are very good. I didn't see one doing over 100 on the entire trip. They usually sit on 90-95. Oh dear. I'm going to be late. So I trailed along. We got to the Edith Falls turn off. Five kilometres of dual carriageway. Beauty. With foot down and humming along at 140, it still took most of the dual road to get past them. Ripper. Home free.

However ... just few kms further on, I noticed four or so big black birds slowly winging their way along just above the treeline in the gathering gloom of dusk. Ahh.  Just RTBCs. Ahh well. Seen them before. Nothing too special. But 200 metres further on, as I was going around an easy righthand curve, a cacophony of RTBC noise hit me inside the car with the windows closed. I looked to my right and saw a "blizzard" of RTBC shapes going every which way. Whoa. Left indicator on. Hits brakes and takes to the road verge. As I pulled up the three road trains went past and once the dust cleared I did a U-turn and drove back to where the RTBC were, parked and hopped out.

I estimate there were 3-400 RTBCs in the paddock next to the road where there was a dam. There were birds in most trees and continually flying down to and up from the dam where 50-60 were drinking plus groups of 4-10 were flying in every minute or so. I think I saw 5-600 hundred over the next half hour until it got too dark to take photos. The noise was deafening. Truly a stunning sight.

Due to unpreparedness and the dimming light, the photos aren't too special.

The main action was at the dam. I snuck along the fence behind a bit of scrub but couldn't get into a clear spot with good vision that wasn't obvious. Hence the blurriness of the foliage.

It was getting pretty dark by now. Literally about as dark the image above. I applied some Photoshop science and this is the result from the above image.

It was a fantastic experience. Just so exciting.

Magic! t1250 to freeze the action and Photoshop.

Well, my mind started ticking over. They would probably come back to the same watering place tomorrow night. Hmm. Perhaps I could revisit. Hmm.

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