A spectacular bird of the wet tropics

Grahame and I have taken ourselves off on a birdwatching adventure. All keen birdwatchers can behave a bit on the eccentric side now and then, and driving up to far north Queensland in the wet season hoping to observe and photograph a bird that has flown in from New Guinea to nest, might seem somewhat odd to the person with more popular hobbies.

But we were reasonably sure we’d encounter other intrepid birders in the wet, humid tropics hunting down the exact same species with binoculars and telephoto-lens cameras. And of course, we did.

Buff-breasted Paradise-kingfisher 1

Dripping with sweat, and as uncomfortable as hell, we propped ourselves behind a tree and tried to  pretend we were invisible. Birds are smarter than that, though. They were suspicious and wary, but Grahame got a few quick shots, and I got excellent sightings.

The Buff-breasted Paradise-kingfisher.

They burrow into a terrestrial termite mound in tropical rainforest, so their habitat has diminished over time, and is always fragile.

They’re such brilliant birds with their red bill and legs, and bright blue and contrasting white and orange/tan plumage. And so fascinating to watch. I think they’re well aware that they’re near the top of the list of spectacular birds, posing this way and that, showing off both profiles. When the paradise-kingfisher flies off, its long white tail trails behind like a length of toilet paper caught in its pants. Comical.

When it alights on a branch, it swings its tail back and forth, back and forth, just like the pendulum on an old grandfather clock. And in tempo with ticking time too. You could almost expect the bird to chime ‘ding-dong, ding-dong’.

A magic experience.

Buff-breasted Paradise-kingfisher 2

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