Now for something completely different.
Over Christmas and New Year I read a book called A Guide to the Birds of East Africa: a novel written by Australian author Nicholas Drayson.
A a first glance at the front cover you might be forgiven for thinking that this is just another field guide, albeit to a part of the world with a wonderfully rich and diverse bird life. Look again. The two innocent words a novel at the end of the title bring a whole new perspective to the book.
The novel is a story of intrigue, excitement, adventure, mystery, crime and with a light touch of romance. Actually, the whole premise has romance as its basis. Not soppy romance, mind you, but the driving force of the main character and his protagonist is their love for another bird watcher.
Mr. Malik is quiet, reserved and polite in the extreme. He is not the one to ruffle any feathers, ornithological or human. But his heart holds a secret passion; he is deeply in love with Rose Mbikwa, leader of the Tuesday-morning bird walk of the East African Ornithological Society.
Mr. Malik secretly plans to ask Rose to the annual Hunt Ball. Harry Khan, a ghost from Mr. Malik’s past sweeps back into his life, and he too has Rose in his plans. When Mr. Malik unwisely blurts out his feelings at their club, a wager is arranged. Whoever sees the most birds in a week will be the one to ask Rose to the ball.
The chase is on, but not without the inevitable hindrances, intrigue, mystery and complications over interpretations of The Rules. Many birds are seen and woven seamlessly into the story which rollicks along to a satisfying conclusion.
Drayson, N., 2008, A Guide to the Birds of East Africa: a novel. London, Penguin
After leaving Bateman’s Bay on our holiday last month we travelled down along the south coast of New South Wales. I navigated us along the coast rather than following the main highway south. I was hoping to get some good views of the coast and also find some useful birding spots.
After only a short drive we came to a lovely beach called Duesbury Beach at the small town of Dalmeny. There were a few people swimming and surfing or walking on the beach, but very few birds.
In fact, we were there for only a few minutes and I made only a short lists of birds: Black Swans and Masked Lapwing on or near a lagoon in the town, several Silver Gulls patrolling the beach, several Australian Magpies in gardens and some Welcome Swallows in several parts of the locality. Not an impressive list, but made up for by the beautiful spot. We then drove on along the coast line.
Click on the photos to enlarge the image.
On our holiday last January we arrived in Bateman’s Bay soon after lunch. We booked into our motel, unpacked the car and went looking for a pleasant picnic area for afternoon tea and a time of relaxation. We found a lovely beach side picnic ground.
While we had afternoon tea my wife and daughter did some reading. They also debated the relative merits of several books they had both read over Christmas.
The birding was a little slow so after making a short list I wrote some poetry. You can read some of my poetry here.
On our return to the motel we were amused by an unusual perching spot for the local Australian Pelicans. Every street light along the foreshore had one or two pelicans perching or resting on it. This is somewhat unusual in my experience. It was so odd I stopped to take a few photos.
I’m just back from an early morning walk. It was about 15C, crisp fresh, no breeze and cloudless. A perfect morning for a walk.
As I was going along I was aware of several dozen Little Ravens calling nearby. I’ve been aware of many ravens calling near our home over the last week or so. It’s something they tend to do several times a year. They will gather in large numbers, often 30 – 50 or more and commence calling raucously for ten or twenty minutes or more. After a protracted chorus of their calls, especially near the house, one can feel a little annoyed; it can be a penetrating call up close.
I also observed about a dozen Crested Pigeons sitting on the power lines or feeding on the ground. Several of them were giving their elaborate bowing, bobbing and tail fanning display to prospective mates. This species seems to be always breeding around here. Probably why there’s a growing number of them.
We occasionally have lorikeets land to feed in the trees in our garden but more often they just fly over, very rapidly and very noisily. This morning a flock of 10 Purple-crowned Lorikeets went screaming overhead as I walked along, did a 360 turn wheeling around to check me out (or maybe the mallee tree on the side of the road) before streaking off to find another tree in blossom. It’s like having a miniature squadron of fighter jets fly over at close range. The photo below shows a related species, the equally noisy Musk Lorikeet which we also get here from time to time.
In these hurried and hectic times it is important for humans to, once again, get connected to nature. What better way to relax and enjoy the world than to witness the natural behavior of the animals around us unfold before our very eyes.
Birdwatching allows us all to get closer to wild nature in our own backyards and everywhere else on the planet. As you will see from this inspiring collection of thoughts, images and experiences, anyone can reconnect with nature anytime, anywhere. Just let your spirit soar! Larry Jordan
I agree with Larry Jordan, host of this week’s I and the Bird #94. Here we have a fantastic collection of links to birding blogs from all over the globe. It’s like going on a birding holiday – without the expense nor the hassles of wasting hours in airports.
Larry’s blog – A Birder’s Report – is a bird lover’s delight, complete with wonderful photos of the birds he sees.