Day 58 | Bilung Pool: Paradise, I made it

rest day

The miracle around here is water.

Leave a pool of water around and suddenly the bird life proliferates.

Bilung Pool, or Bilungardie to give it its aboriginal name, is a classic Outback waterhole, ie, permanently wet, and almost as welcome as my first real water hole back in South Australia, the surprising Eringa.

Bilung isn’t so big, 100 × 50 m and well hidden except for the surrounding giveaway trees: it’s in what would technically be termed a ravine. The surrounding land is totally horizontal, a small watercourse in the sand, that hits some rock where water starts to collect, then after 200 m when the rock terminates there’s a 4m drop to the pool, ie, a waterfall, at least when the creek does its occasional flow thing.

Around the edge of the murky water, and indeed scattered for some distance along the watercourse are some large River red gums, Australia’s most widespread eucalypt, which, despite the name, have a silvery white, usually contorted, gnarly, trunk.

Those trees are home to maybe 100 rather noisy parrots, the ever surprised looking Little corella, white plumage, except for some red around the eyes, probably from the late nights and early mornings. They’re a busy bird and left to their own devices make noise not dissimilar to a classroom of Grade 7 students where the teacher has been taken from the room for the last 30 minutes. They carry on a bit, chase each other around, hang upside down squawking away, always one that insists on being louder than the rest. The corellas have a plenty of spare time on their hands currently as there’s plenty of grass seed to be foraged on the ground.

There’s other birds around, a kite being chased away by the normally belligerent magpie larks, a few cute zebra finches chirping cheerily and whirring around.

Yesterday I watched fascinated by a feeding frenzy of 100 or two wood swallows of unspecified species. These flap and glide around in large compact flocks, grabbing insects on the wing. Plenty of food to be had, the recent wet, almost tropical, conditions have created a locust plague, a 3 inch long scrumptious feast. Plenty of juice in those winged hoppers.

The locusts, in a variety of sizes, large to gigantic, are the zaniest fliers.

The locusts may not have much time in the world on their locomotive phase, they don’t allocate an appropriate stretch for the flying lessons, they jump high then with wings beating they crash around in the air, landing heavily, several times, kinda like the usual Wellington airport aeroplane bump landing, before coming to rest.

Maybe the lessons are courtesy of the admirably eccentric galahs who dart at frenetic wingspeed, if not pace, hither and yon, with no prearranged flight path, concurrently with an equal and similarly furious vocalisation. Then they, the galahs, land 80m down the road only to repeat the performance, encore after encore.

Sort of like humanity, when you think about it: maximum repetitive effort expended for limited return.

As the sun lowers the Little corellas announce their arrival from their days efforts.

It’s party time.

It ain’t going to be a quiet Saturday night.