Gathan Beaga

avian cryptozoology

Rosa was asleep; Bella was watching Nickelodeon (we don’t have SkyTV at home, so this was a bit of a holiday treat for her) and Becky needed the laptop for her Playcentre treasurer job. What was I to do?

I took the camera and the binoculars out for a wander. Maybe I might find some of those lovely quail. Or another amazing stick insect.

Out the back of the house I tried to spot whatever mysterious insect that was making those charming jungle noises. But every time I moved the noise would stop, and not start for another minute or so. I got bored after standing for 15 minutes in the one spot without locating the source of the sound. Onwards, then.

So around the side of the house I crept.

There was a crash of bushes and a large brown bird ran across the lawn about 50 metres and through a hedge of bay trees. I didn’t get to see exactly what it was – too large to be a weka, at least.

On the other side of the bay trees there was more lawn leading to a macrocarpa hedge on the property boundary: I didn’t see it here either but I could hear it crashing through the undergrowth on the other side of the hedge.

I stopped here, crouching down beside a small bush as cover, and waited. There were a few more crashings, then silence. Where had it gone?

I waited. And waited.

Presently I could hear a new noise, a high pitched whistle, coming from the middle of the overgrown macadamia grove a little down the hill. Every so often it would be answered with a much lower pitched cry from a little further away. By chance connected?

I quietly crept down the hill, the boundary fence and macadamias over it on my left. The noises continued – maybe I had not been detected? By a fence post was a bush – good cover. I crouched there, took my glasses off, and got the binoculars out.

I scanned the area I thought the noises were coming from. It was about 60 metres away, a thick clump of scrubby weeds. And yes, I could see some movement. Just the neck of the bird, thick and brown. But wait – ahh – there’s the head, or part of it. It looked a little like a turkey with a thicker and brown neck; red skinned around the beak and face I thought. But it was all a little hard to tell. I put my glasses back on and tried taking a photo.

avian cryptid

Hmmm, that wasn’t much use.

I took my glasses off again and went back to the binoculars. I still couldn’t resolve much detail. What were they?

Suddenly, there was an alarm call and two birds broke cover, with great speed despite their bulk, flying up out of their cover and over my head. They moved too fast for me to follow with the binoculars, and by the time I scrabbled around for my glasses they were gone without me getting any better idea of what they looked like.

Bugger. I had thought I might really be on to something.

The next day David, Becky’s Dad, returned from Masterton. “Did you spot any pheasants?”, he asked.

Aah.

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