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  • Writer's pictureKaia Colestock

Day 8: Crater Lakes National Park

Updated: Jan 6

First order of business when there’s nowhere to drive the next day, get up for the dawn chorus and go for a walk. The hostess tried to let me down easy. She said, “Most of the riflebirds are done displaying.” (i.e. don’t get your hopes up) “They may be around but are very quiet now on nests.” As instructed, I bought some fruit and cut it into small pieces to lay out on the veranda. Supposedly, Victoria’s riflebirds love to come eat the fruit.

My one hope at Crater Lakes was to find the bird of paradise. Well, a spotted catbird stole every single one of nectarine pieces one by one. A Lewin’s honeyeater managed to grab a couple while the catbird was busy. But alas, no riflebird. I watched with defeat at the catbird took the last piece.

Spotted catbird (above)

Elias and I started our rounds of the lodge grounds. Bower’s shrikethrush, spectacled monarchs, yellow-breasted boatbill, spotted catbirds, honeyeaters, figbirds, sulfur-crested cockatoo, gray fantail, golden whistler, and pale-yellow robins. I heard soft rustling behind me and a brushturkey was following us. Evidently it was easier to pick out grubs after we had walked through the path and kicked up leaf litter. It saved him some work.

We came to a junction in the trail where we heard an incredibly beautiful song. It made us stop in our tracks. Elias said, “let’s go find that.” So we turned up a gravel track until we could see it - a gray fantail - singing and spreading its tail wide to display for the female. We stood for a few moments watching it, and were about to go back. Elias starts reacting in excitement, “LOOK! LOOK!!“ There on a broken trunk displaying for all the world to see, was a Victoria’s riflebird.

Victoria’s riflebird (above)

The most endearing part of all about this male, was that he was bald-headed and missing primary feathers, but he didn’t care. As if to say, “I know I’m the last one, but HERE I AM LADIES! Have a look at THIS!” We laughed and cried at the same time.

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