An old friend calls. He’s on a mission. He’s got photographs of most Aussie birds. Now he needs 3 more difficult species. The pressure is on.

A quick chat reveals the next phase of his mission to photograph as many of the Australian birds as possible. This is how we first met some seven years ago, when he was new to Australia and I was a new to bird guiding in North Queensland. Over the years we have chased many birds and gone some incredible places. The lists are incredible. Palm Cockatoo, Eclectus Parrot, Golden-shouldered Parrot, Great-billed Heron, Little Kingfisher, Chowchilla, Fernwren, Marbled Frogmouth. Daintree River, Mossman River, Southern Tableland, Mt Lewis, Lakefield National Park, Lockerbie Scrub, Iron Range. The mission is not just work but a friendship – I’ve met the whole family and he was almost the first to be shared the news of the fiancée. Now he needs three more difficult bird species. Tooth-billed Bowerbird, Barred Cuckoo-shrike, and Pale-vented Bush-hen. The bowerbird is first, as fairly easy to find in season. Difficulty though is it’s usually in forest with poor light. Alfred does well. Afterwards we visit a fruiting fig-tree, temporarily acting as a magnet for the unpredictable nomadic Cuckoo-shrike. We visit twice over two days to get better light. The last is the hardest, usually a skulker in deep grasses, often impossible. I suspect we’ll see it but doubt we’ll get any reasonable images. I’ve been hearing them in the riverine vegetation. I position the boat with the sun behind us with good views of a clearer patch. I’m hoping the bird will come to sunbathe as the sun comes over the ridgeline. Then like clockwork it arrives to stand and preen while the big camera whirrs. Magic! Icing on the cake is chicks in attendance too. I love it when a plan comes together. Mission accomplished. Till next time anyway…