Sunday, February 24, 2013

They Aren't Penguins, But Cockatoos Are Cool Too!

 Feb. 24, 2013

NOT  MY  PHOTOS  - came from a variety of websites.  Credits to the photographers.  All that.

Okay - Saturday night, Feb. 23, was the White Nights event.  This seems to be an international event sponsored by businesses in whatever location.  It's a big arts and music and culture and shopping event, where the businesses stay open all night - trying to promote shopping post holidays and all that.  We met a young man (from New Zealand but grew up in LA, or something like that) who was promoting the White Nights event, and he told us about it.

It sounded like fun.  We used to go to the Miracle on Main Street in St. Thomas, always a fun event.  We'd just walk around, listen to music, run into friends, chat, eat, drink.  A fun evening.

So we met up with a man about our age that Richard had met at our guesthouse, and headed out.  (Guy's name is Axel, he's from Germany, has been a sportscaster on TV most of his career.  Interesting guy!)

We walked through the botanical garden and on into the city, a lovely evening walk of about 3 miles.  Melbourne has been having beautiful summer weather, days 
are about 30 degrees C (90 F) and evenings cool down but are still warm, with a slight breeze.  (Flies are weird, they seem to like faces - they don't bite, just get in one's way.  No idea why these flies aim for faces, but they are incredibly annoying.)  Anyway, we walked along, chatting, watching the crowds, and waving away the stupid flies.

We approached town, and could see lights, hear some music, I saw maybe a Brazilian dancer in a Carnival costume dancing over by some booths.  It looked like a fun time, but by now I was tired and in some pain and discomfort - so we talked and I agreed that I didn't think I was up for much more, and would just take the tram back to our guesthouse - and that Richard and Axel should explore a bit more, and I'd see them later.

Well, we were right by the National Gallery Victoria (where I had seen the Neo-Impressionist exhibit previously) - and I heard the unmistakable noise of parrots.  Or parrot-related birds.  I looked around, and across the street, right on the National Gallery building, up on the metal scaffolding type of extensions of the building, were a group of cockatoos!!!  Big huge white cockatoos, with crests and squawks and all the confusion that parrot-like birds seem to enjoy.  (They really are the drama queens of the bird world!) 

Up and down the metal bars they walked and squawked, arguing and chasing each other.  Then one would fly off, swooping along the side of the building, while another cockatoo swooped in to take its place.  Noisy, garrulous, argumentative, chattering, pushy birds gathering on top of the National Gallery.

I was entranced!

These birds are big - like really big seagulls, but, well, way way fancier!!!  Sort of like seagulls wearing costumes, dressed up for their own birdy Carnival!

And while I know cockatoos are wild, and I found out that they're native to Australia, somehow I didn't quite expect to see them gathering in downtown Melbourne!

So they were quite a treat!  I'm not sure if they live in the botanical gardens, I'll go over one afternoon and check them out.

But they are magnificent birds!

And they totally made my evening!!!

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