The orange-footed scrubfowl (Megapodius reinwardt) has become a happy camper in the suburbs of Darwin, driving many a mulch-loving gardener to distraction. The Latin name Megapodius refers of course to “big feet” and those long robust claws and powerful orange legs can move mulch and soil at an amazing rate. Tidy minded gardeners wake up to find their carefully curated mulch strewn everywhere. Over our back fence is a house-block that is effectively a reserve for Megapodius and a mound about 12m in diameter and a bit over a meter high is a nest mound shared by a number of Megapodius couples. They excavate a hole, lay 6-12 eggs and back fill the hole with soil and leaves. The job of incubation is done by heat generated as the vegetation breaks down into compost. The chicks are hatched tough and fully-fledged they excavate their way out, with a little help from parents. The scrub fowl have a very loud call — a number of raucus monotonal shrieks followed by a phrase which our neighbourhood agrees says clearly “fucken hell!”. We’ve listened to them in other places around Darwin, and elsewhere the call couldn’t be construed as “fucken hell”. I’m not sure why they are so cheesed off around our way. They seem to have it pretty good really. They’re found in lowland rainforests and dry jungles of parts of the Kimberleys, the Top End and North Queensland. One of my photos shows a big foot digging down on top of the mound just this week.

The orange-footed scrubfowl (Megapodius reinwardt) has become a happy camper in the suburbs of Darwin, driving many a mulch-loving gardener to distraction. The Latin name Megapodius refers of course to “big feet” and those long robust claws and powerful orange legs can move mulch and soil at an amazing rate. Tidy minded gardeners wake up to find their carefully curated mulch strewn everywhere. Over our back fence is a house-block that is effectively a reserve for Megapodius and a mound about 12m in diameter and a bit over a meter high is a nest mound shared by a number of Megapodius couples. They excavate a hole, lay 6-12 eggs and back fill the hole with soil and leaves. The job of incubation is done by heat generated as the vegetation breaks down into compost. The chicks are born tough and fully-fledged they excavate their way out, with a little help from parents. The scrub fowl have a very loud call — a number of raucus monotonal shrieks followed by a phrase which our neighbourhood agrees says clearly “fucken hell!”. We’ve listened to them in other places around Darwin, and elsewhere the call couldn’t be construed as “fucken hell”. I’m not sure why they are so cheesed off around our way. They seem to have it pretty good really. They’re found in lowland rainforests and dry jungles of parts of the Kimberleys, the Top End and North Queensland. One of my photos shows a big foot digging down on top of the mound just this week.

People of the Nightcliff promenade # 2: If swing’s your thing, you should be down near the Nightcliff jetty every Sunday from around 4.30 to 6pm. And if you’re not sure just what do with your feet trust your host Quito Washington to show you how it goes. Quito’s there for the love of swing and hanging with cool humans. He came to Darwin on the wings of love back in 2000 — brought from his native San Diego by an Australian bride. The Sunday sessions go all dry season and attract 40/50 folk of all ages. Things hot up on Wednesday nights at the Darwin Railway Sports and Social Club with more music from swingtime. Every second Wednesday you get the sounds of the Hot and Cold Big Band live and on the other week you get Quito spinning the discs. “Every now and then (more now than then) I catch myself when I realise I am living one of my dreams by being the DJ at a swing nightclub — picking the music, spinning it up, and seeing the response of the crowd … I’m like ‘this is awesome personified!’” Quito and a friend kicked Swing Dance NT off in 2009 and its been off the chain ever since because “it don’t mean a thing, if it ain’t got swing”.

128 km Darwin Airport Radar Loop

128 km Darwin Airport Radar Loop

This Barking Owl (Ninox connivens) hangs out on the bike and walking path down towards the Rapid Creek bridge in Darwin. There’s a pair of them, usually sitting amongst the branches of palms beside the path. As it gets closer to dark they wake up and start to vocalise, with their dog-like “wook wook” call. These are the smaller northern form of the Barking Owl and look quite a lot like the southern Boobook Owl. The Boobook is easily distinguished by pale-rimmed dark goggles around the eyes.