Kookaburras spotted in wilds of Scotland by excited adventurer: 'They're wicked'

It's believed there are just a handful of the Australian birds in the country, which have likely escaped from a wildlife park.

Kookaburras have been filmed flourishing almost 17,000km from Australia in the wilds of Scotland by an excited wildlife adventurer. Over three days 29-year-old “Cookie” trekked across the hills of Kirkcudbright listening for the echo of the birds' iconic laugh after seeing reports of the strange pair online.

“They’ve been known about locally for a few years – they think the birds escaped from a wildlife park,” Cookie told Yahoo News. “People had photographed them because they didn’t know what they were. They’d land on washing lines or fences in people’s gardens and they’d post photos online.”

Video of the moment he spotted the birds has been uploaded to his Wildlife With Cookie Instagram account, exiting Brits and Aussie alike. “Never knew about this. Awesome!” one person wrote. “That’s what ya get for giving us bloody foxes, cats, rabbits, and all the rest,” one Aussie joked in reference to the invasive species British settlers introduced Down Under.

Left - a kookaburra in a tree. Right - Cookie with his camera. A line says: I'm searching for an animal that should not be in the UK.
A kookaburra has been photographed in the southern Scottish town of Kirkcudbright. Source: WildlifeWithCookie/Instagram

How Cookie tracked down Scotland’s rare kookaburras

When Cookie arrived in the small town in late March, a greenskeeper gave him access to the local golf course where the birds had been seen. “I carried on my search, but found nothing. So I drove around the town and that proved fruitless,” he said.

With most of the town aware of Cookie’s mission, he’d receive regular reports from locals. “Someone said they’d seen one a couple of days ago, another a few months back. Then three days later I got a message from the greenskeeper saying: 'They’re here right now!'”

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Buoyed by the sighting, Cookie jumped into his car and was at the golf course within three minutes.

“I ran onto the golf course in the rain. I had to scramble up a hill with my bag on. And I don’t know if you can tell, but I’m a proper chubby boy, so I got to the top panting. I worried I would scare the kookaburra,” he quipped.

Cookie's delight after finding kookaburras

His commitment paid off, and in another video uploaded to TikTok, the delight is palpable.

"I have got something good. I have got something so good," he repeats excitedly. "There are probably less than five of these in the entirety of the UK. I've got my eyes on it."

He then laughs with glee as he spots the first of two kookaburras sitting in a tree above a fence. "Oh my word! It's a kookaburra," he says.

Cookie told Yahoo one of the kookaburras was "just chilling there". "Then I saw another one. But they weren’t laughing, they were just muttering to each other, almost like revving up the engines of their laugh but not getting there," he said.

Do the Scottish like having kookaburras?

While it was exciting to see the kookaburras in the wild, Cookie witnessed the impact the introduction of foreign wildlife can have on native landscapes. The species has been introduced to Australia’s west, where they have impacted native birds and reptiles, and during the brief time Cookie watched them in Scotland, he witnessed their highly evolved hunting skills.

“In that time they killed a lizard. I thought that’s not good. But I did also see one yanking a worm out of the ground. That was pretty funny,” he said.

Despite their attacks on lizards and worms, the general consensus from locals is that they love having them around.

“I think they’d like to have more of them,” Cookie said. “I love them too. I think they’re wicked, right. They obviously dive bomb barbecues. One took a chip from me in [Australia].”

A kookaburra spotted sitting on a branch in Scotland.
The kookaburras are loved by the people of Kirkcudbright, and many would apparently like to see more of them. Source: WildlifeWithCookie

What other Aussie creatures live in the UK?

Kookaburras aren’t the only Aussie animal living far from home in the UK. In November, Cookie spoke to Yahoo about tracking down a previously unknown colony of wallabies in the Midlands.

Following that adventure he headed to New Zealand in search of the elusive Fiordland moose, which hasn’t been photographed since 1952. Unfortunately accessing that remote area proved difficult, with helicopters costing over $3,000 a trip.

With his follower base growing, Cookie is feeling the pressure to discover new weird and wonderful creatures. He’s even secured a sponsor, British camera hire company MPB who helped finance his kookaburra adventure and provided him with equipment.

His next adventure could involve looking for rare and strange native animals, so stay tuned.

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