Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Tawny Frogmouth is not a porn star


I am not a camera adept. Would like to be - I like photographs, am enamoured of the way the camera can snatch an instance, an instant of reality & make it something more.

But not for me, as Ira Gershwin once wrote. I grew up in an age of box brownies. I didn't own a camera for many subsequent decades - it would have been just one more thing to hock & never redeem. & now that I do, all I seem to manage are bad photos - out of focus, or the subject too distant, or, or, or.....

So I don't carry one around. & regret it sometimes. Like a couple of days ago, staying in North Queensland, about 700 kilometres further north from what we currently call home, visiting friends down near the sea & driving back to where we were staying on a road formed from the right angles of sugarcane fields, the night so warm that the windscreen of the car fogged over on the outside because of the temperature differential from an inside that had had the airconditioner on all day. Lights on high beam. & caught in them as we rounded - squared - a corner a shape, rigid, that, as we got closer, turned out to be a tawny frogmouth, with its identifying funny bristles around the beak, guarding the corpse of a cane toad that had been squashed by an earlier car.

We stopped the car. I got out, tried to shoo it away. It didn't move, so after a minute or so I got back in & we drove around it very carefully. (& a couple of hundred metres up the road saw the shape of another night predator, this one a grey owl, diving after something at the edge of the cane.)

My bird book mentions this in passing. "Frogmouths often get killed on the roads as a result of their groundfeeding habits." Hopefully this one survived the night.
 


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