Fire provides the opportunity for pyrophilic behaviour by some birds. Brown Falcons perch at the fire-front waiting for grasshoppers, frogs, snakes, lizards and small mammals. Whistling Kites and particularly Black Kites, Milvus migrans, spectacularly hawk around the curtain of flame, preying on grasshopper, cockroaches and other small fleeing animals. Local Aboriginal people believe that Brown Falcons and Black Kites set fires by carrying burning sticks to new locations and drop them into dry grass on unburnt grounds.
The falcon was gone. A hundred birds were before me in the sky and on the ground. Here two Whistling Kites cruised downwind effortlessly away from the risen sun, doubling back with obvious efforts into the freshening breeze. Singleton Great Egrets rowed upstream against the morning breeze, all Omo white body and neck and black legs and beak. Torresian Crows - all beak and croaking caws - wandered in from their night roosts. Silver Gulls cruised downwind along the shoreline and Crested and other terns cruised offshore. There at ground level irregular ranks of Magpie Larks picked their way across the open grass in a score-strong horde, all black and white flutters and jumps as they grazed. Where one bird had dominated the morning landscape five minutes before, now everywhere was birds.
Is our landscape one shaped by humans and weather forces or might other agents - like birds - be in part responsible for the spread of fire across our landscapes? There are more questions here than answers...so far.