Kookaburras At Sunrise
By John Martin
I wake up, it’s 6am, predawn - a perfect time to go for a walk. As I step outside I can see a faint glow in the eastern sky; the day is arriving. The street is dark and the air is cool as I walk up the little hill where I live, I'm looking forward to seeing the sun rising over the ocean from the cliffs a few kilometers away. I look up and the first thing that I notice is a gang of laughing kookaburras, 6 of them sitting on the powerlines. I think to myself: are they going to have a laugh?
The laughter is delayed as kookaburras fly a short distance along the street, up the hill, to a big gum tree; perched in this mighty tree they welcome the morning with their song. A chorus of voices ring out, repeating the same sounds: kook-kook-kook-ka-ka-ka. Another gang responds, they are a short distance away around the corner, singing as a group in response: kook-kook-kook-ka-ka-ka.
I continue walking up the hill. It’s dark, the faint light seems way off in the distance; it's peaceful, still, cloudy, and cool. A small animal on a front lawn runs away as I wander past, it is likely to be a long-nosed bandicoot but it could be a European rabbit. It’s dark and it moved quickly, I only faintly caught its movement. I continue walking, I've only taken a few steps when it hits me - beautiful, fragrant, enveloping - the curry scented aroma of a shrub I'm walking past.
I turn the corner and continue up the hill, a flock of sulphur-crested cockatoos are quietly chatting at their roost, they are yet to head out for the day. A few minutes later I reach the national park, I turn onto the bush track, daylight is taking over the dark sky and the morning. Above me I notice the stark, white undersides of leaves of a banksia tree overhanging the path. The path is wet, I side-step the larger puddles. White-browed scrubwrens and eastern dwarf tree frogs are calling from the dense bush and the rain-filled ponds, the morning is otherwise still and calm, with a damp heaviness due to the low, thick grey clouds.
I step off the path, I weave between low shrubs and over rocks to the cliff: a beautiful spot to watch the sunrise. The breeze is stronger here, carrying a cool autumnal chill. The sun slowly rises as the ocean rolls in, I sit watching the swell, listening to it crash with the rocks. Orange, intense orange, the rising sun streaks across the sky.
Later, when watching the time lapse video of the beautiful sunrise I especially enjoyed the millipede crossing, and returning in front of the camera. I was oblivious of it's presence, I suspect it wasn't aware of my presence either. This reminds me, there's always the opportunity to take a moment to observe nature, no matter where you are.
Author Bio: John is a career ecologist & one of the coordinators of The Urban Field Naturalist Project. Away from work I spend my time in the sea and the bush, often observing nature.
Drawing by Louise Kiddel.