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Australia Week 2: Chasing Firehawks

Arnhem Land, Australia

Sunday 18th June 2023

In the local aboriginal language, Karrkanj, meaning "trouble-maker", is used to refer to a number of native Australian birds that have a curious affinity for wildfires. Whenever a fire is started, it is only a matter of time before black kites, whistling kites, brown falcons and other birds swarm to the site. It may seem counterintuitive at first, but the reason for their pyromania is easy to see from down on the ground. If you happen to find yourself standing next to a wildfire, as I have been doing every day for the past 2 weeks, you will have to do a lot of dodging. This is because insects, snakes, and other animals trapped in the wild are sent into frenzied survival mode and try to escape by any means necessary. However up in the freedom of the sky, for any bird that can easily fly away from the destruction, wildfires become a veritable buffet.

My main job on this fieldtrip is to count and identify these karrkanj to species-level, how many can you count?


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