The workshop allowed for clarification of the rather confusing overlap of three bird names, karrkkanj, ngalmirlangmirlang and wunwunbu. Karrkkanj, it turns out, is a term for the Black Kite but can also be applied to two other raptor species, the Peregrine Falcon and the Brown Falcon.
Karrkkanj is a term for the Black Kite but can also be applied to two other raptor species, the Peregrine Falcon and the Brown Falcon, Professor Evans explains. The Peregrine Falcon can also be known more specifically as ngalmirlangmirlang and the Brown Falcon as wunwunbu; these are said to be husband and wife. Karrkkanj is also ritually significant as the one who founded the Lorrkkon mortuary cycle.
The Crows tune up in the soft light. "We are just awake, but not ready yet" some say. "Go back to sleep" say others. The inevitable. Silence. A small croooaak. A waaaark. Crack!. Then ten and more giving full voice. Silence. Once more chuurrppp. Kwaaaark - kwaaaak. Much more now of the rattling, raucous corvid morning symphony.
Frankly it was a crappy morning that greeted me, and I battled through a very dreary Sunday morning in Alice. A photographer friend suggested going for a drive to see if we could find a break in the cloud cover anywhere - we couldn't...I'd had enough, so I started the trudge back to the car, when something flapped in a red gum over my shoulder, and I looked up to see two Grey Falcons studiously ignoring me - as is their regal right... what a bird!
The full story of the Princess Parrots, and those who are frantically seeking them, will have to wait for another day. The recent influx of birders into the Centre, and the restrictions they face accessing the Aboriginal lands that the birds are currently on, prompted my mate Christopher Watson to spend a day travelling around Alice Springs trying to get as many birds as possible in a day's drive close to town.
Last Friday I packed up the Troopie and headed north-west for a few hours to a gorge that I've camped at a few times in the past. At this time of year there are quite a few waterholes scattered throughout the ranges that this gorge cuts through. Right now the waterhole near the mouth of the gorge is full and fresh, later in the year the waterhole will be the last "free" water in the area.
A female Peregrine Falcon - powerful legs, cere and eye-ring all a bright yellow, the back a dark and shining slate grey in the bright sun and the black executioner's hood that encases the head from which black eyes gleam. Below, the chest a glowing bleached white, the belly barred brown over cream.