The night’s rain left my camping pitch considerably wetter the next morning than when I had arrived. All the same it was warm enough to breakfast outside, to the interest of two horses in the neighbouring field. They probably expected titbits. I was more absorbed in the backdrop of yellow-tailed black cockatoos flapping past for only my second sighting of what I still believed was my 900th world species.
They heralded number 946, actually in the campsite, and a day that would accelerate that number up to the giddy heights of 958. Thirteen lifers certainly were not going to be unlucky for me and this early morning bird would be about the hardest to identify, being a female. A female cuckoo, to boot. She was large, which rather threw me off the cuckoo track initially. The good thing about large birds is that there aren’t so many of them and it’s easy to pick them out while flipping through a field guide.
I got there in the end: common koel. Or Pacific koel according to the IOC, which also has it as Eudynamys orientalis, not the E. scolopacea in Morcombe. Asian koel took that with it when the species split not so long ago. Difficult to see and elusive describes the whole complex but my bird perched openly. Of course I was the only person in the site to register it. That’s the extra dimension I live in.
The next lifer wasn’t long a-coming: the National Park was a mere hop away and I was there early before the crowds. And there were crowds by the time I left, cars parked all up the entrance roads. It’s a popular spot. The visitor centre was already busy but this didn’t deter the brush turkeys. Nothing much deters them: they’re one of the few species that see us as a meal ticket. From this first ever sighting they would become old friends on my route up the East Coast.
Dorrigo had its walkway that jutted out over a magnificent vista of rainforest and Pacific Ocean. Topknot pigeons launched themselves like Space Shuttles from the treetops, the closer of which held less disturbing, diminutive brown gerygones – 949.
The milestone 950th was a cracker – flashes of bright yellow against the dark green of the canopy. There was time to get the bins on it and pick out the pattern of black and yellow that had produced the illusion of colours alone flitting across the treescape. My first rainforest exotic and my first bird of paradise, a regent bowerbird. ⇐ ⇒