Kookaburras have their breakfast in our driveway and garden while we have our morning coffee.  There is one boyo in particular who is always there.  I call him a male but have no idea how to tell the difference between the genders in kookaburras.  He looks like a boy, solid and squat and with a bad hair day every day.  A real roughnut.

The kookaburras down here are different to the ones in the Territory.  The birds up there have blue wings, very pretty, and a different laugh.  I used to listen to them up there and try and work out how to describe it.  It was a sort of round sound, like a smoke ring and then there was another sharp, pointed sound, like one of them blowing a smoke full stop through the middle of the smoke ring.  That's the only way I can describe it.

We had three baby kookaburras born in the reserve next to our place when we first came to live here.  When they learned to fly they used to perch on a tree about 15 metres from our house (although the house wasn't there then, just the shed where we lived for six and a half years while building the house).  I like to think that this one and the couple or three of the others who sometimes join him are the ones who were born here.  There is a good breakfast to be had on our driveway which is partly covered in grass and there is obviously enough for three or four when the others join in.  He is obviously a fellow who has a routine and is set in his ways and also enjoys our company and the chats we sometimes have.   If he drank coffee he would be having his coffee with us but he does the next best thing, has breakfast.

They weren't the first set of triplets we have had here but it has been a while since we had any more.  First of all came the Willie Wagtails in that same tree in a very exposed place but they did survive, then the kookaburras and then there were three butcher birds.  Now, why did I put capital letters on the Willies and not on the others?  Curious how our fingers work when we are not looking.

The Willies built their nest on the lowest branch of the tree which went straight out almost at right angles to the trunk. We were tireless watchers of their comings and goings building the nest.  We were doing the same thing ourselves only on a bigger scale.  Finally mother laid eggs and eventually three babies were hatched.  The Willies are lovely to watch with their nervous tailwagging and the checheche if you go too close to the nest and they had a lovely spring there.  Sometimes when the parents would be away collecting food for growing children Himself would peep in to see how they were going.  He is tall enough to do this sort of thing without touching or damaging anything around.  Another thing I miss out on by being veritcally challenged.  

There came a time when even I could see a head peeping out over the top of the nest, then two and then three.  (No wonder it took us six and a half years to build our house, you know how we spend a lot of our time!!!).  Then came the day when one (first born?) stood on the edge of the nest and teetered about before scrambling back to safety amid much commotion from within the nest and much fussing about by the parents.  Finally the three of them sat on the edge of the nest clinging on like grim death.  "You go first."  "No, no, no, you go first."  The parents were encouraging them, flying about, showing them how it is done.  "Just jump and put your wings out."  "But what if my wings forget to go out?"  "It's such a long way down." "I can feel vertigo coming on!!!"

This happened to be the day when we were going into town to a Christmas Party for my work.  We were showered and dressed and ready to go and still we stayed watching.  I hate being late.  Himself is always late.  How come people actively seek out partners who have habits which are exactly opposite to theirs and then try and live with them?  I mean, it is jut as annoying for him to be dragged somewhere to be early as it is for me to pace around waiting for him to be late!!!  Why do we do this to ourselves?  There must be some other chemistry (or sheer bloodymindedness) that makes you overlook faults in other people.  He has a lot of good faults (oops, qualities I meant) and I might even have a few myself so I suppose it evens itself out.

When we were going overseas, me for the first time, I dragged him, not quite kicking and screaming but mumbling and grumbling, to the airport and we arrived just as it was opening.  I have to laugh when I think of it and he still tells people about that incident when the plane wasn't due to take off till 9.00am and I had him there at 5.30am!!!  We stayed at The Royal Exhibition Hotel  in Devonshire Street, right across from Central (in fact we still stay there when we go to Sydney) and just had to walk across the road to the entrance to the railway station.   It was just made for us because I don't do running and he knows that.  He probably didn't know it then.  He has since been enlightened.

The enlightenment came to myself courtesy granddaughter Hannah, when I went with her and her boyfriend, Daniel, to her final speech night at school.  We were of course late so had to park a long way away across an oval and other garden stuff.  It was light when we got there and the terrain easily visible and easy to negotiate so I kept up fairly well with them.  Daniel and I sat through the speeches and prize giving (of course she got at least one prize) and then the three of us made a fairly hasty getaway from the crowds and started on the return journey to the car.  It was dark.

I am short-sighted as well as short and have short legs.  These two with me have the longest legs ever and started loping off across the paddock over which we had come before.  Suddenly there were huge rocks which I hadn't even noticed on the first trip.  They took them in their stride.  They were like the Man from Snowy River on foot and I was like the watcher on the hillside standing mute.  Only I wasn't mute for long "Hannah, Hannah wait, I can't run, especially in the dark."  She glanced round and was probably stunned that I wasn't right behind her, I don't know, I couldn't see that far.  However, she did call out "Daniel, Gran doesn't do running!!!"

Since then everyone knows that "Gran doesn't do running".

I can't blame him for being late this night of the Christmas Party as  it was my fault as much as his.  We just wanted to see our babies fly for the first time.  Finally we  had to go and they were still clinging to the side of the nest with the parents becoming impatient.  "If you don't go soon the sun will go down and you won't be able to see where you're going."  "Maybe that would be better, then we can't see how far we are from the ground." The mother snapped "Why do children always have an answer?"

We went to the party but on arriving home, grabbed a torch and went up to see what, if anything,  had happened.  We were gobsmacked!!!  There was the perfect little nest dangling down, tipped over and hanging just by the threads on one side.  We were horrified at first until we realised that the parents had had to push those little petrified babies out of the nest.  We were so disappointed that we didn't see them take their first flights but the next day there were five Willies flying round the garden, three obviously babies and two proud parents.  I suppose they still had a lot to learn but they had taken the first step (so to speak) even if it was with a push and a bit of a nudge from mum and dad.

The following year I think we had the three kookaburras and the year after that the three butcherbirds.  The Willies didn't ever nest in that tree again, probably because of the kookaburras and butcherbirds who are well known for their habits of eating baby small birds.  One other year they nested reasonably close but I saw a kookaburra flying past with a young dead baby in its mouth.  I know they had eaten the Willies' babies because the parents were devastated.  They were so distressed and it went on for a couple of weeks until they disappeared for that season.  There are still a couple who nest fairly close most years and come and bathe in our garden and catch insects in the air and even spiders from under our verandahs but we haven't seen a nest again.

We're hoping for baby kookaburras again this year.  We're hopeful the breakfast boyo is getting his strength to father a new batch.  Time will tell.