Wednesday, 8 July 2009

2008: Perth CBD Birding


Unlocking phones is expensive unless you have time to trawl the Web to find free codes. I didn't. So, on Friday morning, having supplemented my meagre breakfast with the Village Café’s more substantial offering, I found it cheaper to buy a pay-as-you-go Aussie phone. I needed to call Hillary’s Boat Harbour to confirm the next day’s whale-watching trip. Although fascinated by whales, I mainly wanted to get among the seabirds, just like the old days out in Monterey Bay.

Drat, and double drat. I must wait for the phone to charge up and register on the network.

Having left it doing just that back at Noise Central, I drifted down to the riverfront. This was a smart move: among the prehistoric-looking pied, little pied and little black cormorants was the even more atavistic Australian darter. This snake-necked member of the pelicaniformes would have been right at home in Jurassic Park. Time and again Australia provided glimpses of the ancient- (and sometimes hot-) as-hell past, from these birds through its animals and forests to the very structure of the land itself. Here was the first of them, competing with powerboats and loathsome jet-skis, under the glass and steel backdrop of downtown Perth.Swan River (and brewery!)

Swallows, gulls, ducks, coots, a surprising pied oystercatcher and the swans that gave the river its name completed the roll-call. It was time to use the phone and discover that the whales had long passed and no trips were due till next spring. That left Saturday wide open for a rejig of my plans.

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