I Wish You Could Hear the Birds

Imagine, if you will, a single cot bed marooned in the dark of an otherwise empty room, the deep pre-dawn chill of a winter’s day.  It was my first morning in my new home.  I don’t know whether it was freezing fingers that awoke me, or the cacophony of myriad birds  as they woke, discussed the timing, and took off from their night rooks out to the warm dark above the river beyond my apartment.

The noise, the mystery, the dark – welcome to another paradise!  Miraculously, the reverse occurred in the evening, just before dark, the sound of massed twitters and swirling silhouettes.

For several days I went to bed telling myself to wake for the pre-dawn exodus, but I never managed a shot in the dark, so quick was their transition from sleep to flight.  I’ve still not captured them.  It’s like a storm arising:  one instant you become aware of a change in the wind, the next the rain is lashing your windows.  In the case of the birds, one instant I’m  aware they’re on the move, the next they’ve swept overhead, their twittering recording their progress as they pass.

Every day, twice a day, this noisy gathering brings me into the instant, gives me the gift of losing myself in an episode of nature, like a meditation.  And every day, twice a day, I’m so grateful for these moments of grace.

There are other moments, too.  When the baby butcher bird tries to sing, outside the kitchen window, or the peewits flap in the fish pond, almost cooing as they stand on the rim, ruffling their feathers, cooling themselves on a hot afternoon.  Or the other evening, a pair of rainbow lorikeets squabbling and gossiping as they feasted on the flowers of a palm tree in the courtyard garden.

I Wish, Rainbow Lorikeets I Wish, Rainbow Lorrikeets

Among other bloggers I follow,  Liza, over in Ecuador is participating in this year’s Great Backyard Bird Count.  As I said to her, I’ve been unable to count, they’ve been so many and so fast, but her post has inspired me to begin an occasional series of the birds that stop over in my courtyard.


  1. The Rainbow Lorries are delightful clowns 🙂
    I know what you mean about the birds being a gift – perfectly described. At Taylors Arm they are a natural part of the neighbourhood, but in the city for us, yes there does appear to be some grace about their presence, living along side us amongst the noisy busy roads, train lines, high-rise buildings and grime; they find trees and shrubs to their liking for food and shelter, and delight us even more with their proximity because of that.
    We have 3 Australian Myna’s who as fledgings set up nightly camp in the gum tree next to our balcony just after we moved to the apartment a couple of years ago. My phone alarm – a rooster crowing – goes off at 5am for the G.O. and each morning it rouses our little neighbours who somehow understand it means time to get up 😉

    • You’re right about city birds being a special gift, EllaDee. I remember when I came back to Oz after living in Europe and Canada how amazing it was when the flocks of galas and sulphur crested cockatoos swirled overhead. It was like a jolt, hooking me back home – it was only then I realised how much I’d missed the birds we’re so accustomed to seeing all around us. Now, that rooster …. 🙂

  2. I always love finding birds at places that I visit. There was a time when I intentionally prepared one day only for bird-watching on a small island off the coast of southeastern Bali just because I saw a few rare birds the day before. A healthy environment is always noisy, with birds and insects.

    • You’re right – it always seems as though birds are a barometer of a healthy environment, but then I think of them swarming over rubbish dumps … or scavenging from tourists in San Marco, Trafalgar Square … But no matter where, they’re miraculous creatures and forever fascinating. 🙂

    • I don’t think my other visitors will be able to compete sartorially, LG – but I’m practicing shooting from between the slats of the Venetian blinds, and the screen door … hopefully I’ll begin to collect some pictures that show how enchanting these little visitors can be, even if they’re not so bright and colourful. 🙂

  3. gorgeous pics! I heard those early morning bird departures in Cairns too, just before dawn, I did not see the birds! I love the idea of the new project, courtyard visitors … sharing your guests with us, just like the Hanuman troupe 🙂

  4. I’ve missed those noisy, chattering little bundles of colour whilst I’ve been in NZ. Seems to be mainly sparrows every where over here. I’m looking forward to seeing my Aussie larrikins when I get home next week

    • Hope there have been lots of other consolations though Pomme! I’m wondering whether the flocks – so noisy this morning I can barely hear myself think – are bigger than usual because of the drought. Did you hear, even more of the state now declared drought affected – now the largest percentage ever recorded. Down here though, the weather’s divine … and yes, the birds are amazing 🙂

  5. So glad you’ve found another paradise, Meredith 🙂 I keep forgetting your new blog name and your Wanderlust link always takes me back there. Happy to see you acclimatising.

  6. These gorgeous creatures must make up somewhat for the Hanuman family. I captured some monkey families up in the hills this past weekend and they reminded me of your lovely friends 🙂
    I seem to have missed a lot of your posts on this blog. Not sure why they don’t always show up!

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