When my golfing mates heard I was going to spend 5 days in Griffith their thoughts immediately went to drugs and Calabrian heavies. However Griffith has another claim to fame – it has the highest diversity of different cockatoos and parrots than just about anywhere on earth. I had my hopes high as Nicky and I set out on the 4 hour drive from the studio – I needed to get some reference photos for Major Mitchell cockatoos. These birds are notoriously difficult to find, but given the high diversity of interesting parrots and cockatoos in the area I thought we had a good chance to find a few different species I wanted to paint, even if the cockatoos eluded me.
I had visited Griffith a few times over the years and sat with my mate Max at a variety of waterholes in the Binya State Forest waiting for something to land…..alas, this season had little rain and the usual places were dust bowls. After doing laps of Binya we found a great little puddle – probably the only one in the area still containing water. While some birds are relaxed enough to drink from the irrigation channels that feed the cotton and rice fields, the birds I was after needed a natural environment. So we arrived before dawn on the first morning to stake out our puddle. After 90 minutes my butt was numb, I had ants in awkward places and not much was happening….then suddenly we were surrounded by Mulga Parrots, Common Bronze-wings and Spiny cheeked honeyeaters. We had hit the jackpot – the light was gorgeous, the birds were performing and we had the puddle to ourselves.
Over the next few mornings we staked out this water hole and also saw three glorious Turquoise Parrots jostling for drinking space. Success! But still I needed Major Mitchell Cockatoos….Without good reference my major piece of work was just an idea…
The Griffith golf course is next door to the airport and has lots of great birds; it’s well treed and irrigated – so is excellent for Blue Bonnets and Red-rumped Parrots. Last trip I had also noticed a flock of Major Mitchell Cockatoos nearby. It was my best hope if this picture was ever going to get out of my head and onto canvas.
We chased them around the golf course for several evenings until we chanced upon a water trough on private property nearby – we had found their drinking spot. I lurked in the nearby shrubbery and got some lovely photos of up to 10 cockatoos drinking. My next picture was taking shape in my mind. We were so excited that evening that we got locked into the airport carpark and had to ring security to rescue us. An excellent field trip all round!