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.
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.