Day 359: Merry Christmas!

Finding parrots under the tree on Christmas Day in the outback.

December 25, 2015: Perth, Australia — I saw an awesome Christmas tree today: A stack of decorated, green-painted truck and tractor tires at a roadhouse station. It didn’t exactly seem Christmassy in 95-degree heat, but I admired the effort.

Yeah, Merry Christmas!

Frank and I were up at 4 a.m. to make the most of it. We spent the morning on a series of graded dirt roads in the Western Australian interior and didn’t see another human until just before lunch, when we finally emerged onto a paved highway. 

When you’re looking for new birds, any tree could be a Christmas tree. We found one tree decorated with a dozen Zebra Finches (not new, but quite colorful) and another adorned with White-fronted Honeyeaters. Nearby, in a study of red and green, a Crimson Chat walked next to a pair of Mulga Parrots.

My best present was probably a group of Bourke’s Parrots in the shade of a mulga tree. If you look under a tree on Christmas, you never know what you might find.

Finding an open gas station, however, proved difficult today. Good thing Frank has a diesel Subaru with great mileage. We passed several small-town stations with handwritten “Closed for Christmas” notes on their doors before lucking into one on the way back to Perth. Frank claims he could have made it, with an estimated 1,000-kilometer range on his tank, but it would have been a bit stressful.

In celebration of the holiday and of an intense, 19-hour day of birding, we had a quick turkey pot roast for dinner at 9 p.m. And… I’m knackered. This has certainly been a memorable Christmas! Six days to go until New Year!

New birds today: 11

Year list: 5966

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