Monday, September 14, 2015

winged things

I was just out on the lawn, minding my own business, when a shadow passed directly over me. 
A huge bird of prey (research suggests a Yellow-billed Kite - a large one) swooped over my head, across the channel in front of us and up into a palm tree opposite, immediately beset upon by seagulls and Egyptian Geese.
Two Pied crows joined the mob and they circled and screeched as the Kite bided his time in the tree - feasting on baby birds? hiding from the crowd?
After a bit he swooped off again - silent and proud with the hagglers nipping at his wing tips.

There's a Sparrow Hawk 'round here with a similar modus operandi. 
You can tell she's about when a still afternoon suddenly erupts in a cacophony of doves and sparrows, hurtling themselves up and away as the hawk swoops through.

When a Fish Eagle calls I can't not step outside to look for it (sometimes with dire results). 
Often just a speck circling up high, sometimes she's close enough to make out her creamy white head. Always she's tailed by a bunch of bad-ass sea gulls. God, it must be irritating.

The flamingos have been here for months, a much longer stay than any other time in our 3 years here. They all 'sleep' together on the lee of the opposite island, squabbling all night long - clucking and chortling like Monday morning assembly at an all girls school.
At sunrise and sunset they redistribute round the lake, great wheels of awkward pink arrows careening around.
On weekend days, when there's more traffic on the water, they regularly explode upwards, a fireworks show of pink legs and wings.

The Pied Kingfisher is a regular. SO loud for such a very little thing.
Last week, making the bed upstairs, I looked out the window at one almost directly opposite me, hovering in the air, wings a-blur, body completely still, the depth of concentration discernible in the rigid downward-facing bill.
Then plop, he dropped out of the sky and into the water, champagne-corking back up with a silvery flash in his beak.

Great flocks of black cormorants swoop down the channel.
80-strong, they ink by low and fast, their wing tips clapping hands with their shadows on the water in silent applause. They're Top Gun, stealth bombers, cooler than cool, completely without noise.

In stark contrast: ducks.
Clumsy, awkward, loud and ill-mannered - Spring is duck season. Horrific scenes unfold on the lawn: single females cornered up against the fence as mobs of males have their way with her. The girls find it fascinating, Husband and I are left feeling deeply disturbed and vaguely ill.
Ducks are incapable of flying without emitting a soft squeak-squeak-squeak. They often fly by in iconically recognisable threes, squeaking like plastic bath toys. Ducks are such a cliche.

Tiny bejeweled Sun Birds keep our palisade fencing clean of dead bugs and spiders.
Methodically they go from pole to pole, poking their curved beaks into each nook and cranny, twittering away to each other as they go. I've always thought of them as cheerful feathered folk until this female (not bejeweled, just drab and functional poor dear) decided recently that my parked car was Highly Offensive and did her best to intimidate me through the shatterproof, hijack-proof glass.

Recently, very early, very still, Stella and I stood at the water and watched Coots, White Egrets, African Spoonbills and Grebes having their breakfast in the shallows.

All of this (and much more) is happening, all the time, just outside.
Any time we want to pause our day and open our eyes to it, we can. Nature is awesome and we are still, 3 years on, eternally grateful to be living somewhere where we have so much access to it.

1 comment:

dbs said...

Canadian geese keep buzzing my house lately. Hooliganders.