Thursday, November 8, 2007

A Bird Tale.

I have the lurgy. Writing about how sick I feel will bore all of us & not make me feel any better so I thought I'd share yet another bird story. Yep, I have a real exciting life, folks!

We moved to the island with 3 small children at a time when most of our roads were still red dirt & our one tiny shop sold everything from gas to postage stamps. If you wanted a social outing you went & collected your mail. That's where everyone gathered to chat & pass the time of day. It was an incredibly laid back lifestyle except for the fact I had 3 livewire boys.

Forget tags like ADD. They were boys & they behaved like boys have always behaved; insanely. They would slip their seat belts as I drove off down the street & proceed to jump up & down in the car like monkeys, screaming their heads off. Progress was halted while I strapped them all in again but we are talking children who were able to remove with their bare hands the plumbing caps we put on with a wrench so we're talking escape artists extraordinaire here! By the time they were 3 I was putting them out of the car if they wouldn't stay stapped in & making them run home behind us. ( We are talking completely empty roads here with NO traffic, so all I got for my efforts was 3 exceptional long distance runners!) To say I was a distracted driver would be to put it mildly. It also explains why I toddled everywhere. Speedy gonzalos was not for me.

We had been on the island for a whole fornight. The rain had finally stopped; the boys had stopped puking because they didn't like the water & the sun was shinning. I put everyone in the car for a quick trip up to the shop.

Now as we turn onto our main road that runs the full length of the island there is a patch of Malaluka swamp on either side of the road & consequentially a large number of trees. In season wood ducks parade constantly from one side of the road to the other, all their chicks in a row, as well as all the other water birds & whatever else wants water. With littlies in tow it was always a place to slow down so they could see whatever was to be seen but this particular day we got more than we bargained for.

I was just starting to pick up speed so we could make the hill when a black flash caught the corner of my eye. I slammed on the brakes as it disappeared under the car only to re~emerge a moment later on the other side in a flurry of beating wings. Never before or since have I had a whistling kite make a kill under my moving car. We pulled over so we could watch him find a tall tree where he could roost & mantle his prey.

I have run over carpet snakes the size of speed bumps, watched osprey catch mullet so big they can't get airborn, seen turtles sunbathing on their backs & dolphins play with my children but for sheer bravado the big raptors take the cake. I have a thing for these big birds riding the thermals & the way they plummet through the sky like a meteorite. Sadly we are seeing fewer now. They like big dead trees to nest in & of course these are the first ones people pull down & round here people tend to replace the ironbarks & scribbly gums with palm trees, which are really useless things & provide no shelter for out native birds.

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