G’day there, it’s time for that I and the Bird thing again, and somehow or other I’ve got the job. Now, I’m just an old bushman livin’ in a shack out in the scrub, and I s’pose a lot o’ this might sound like some sort o’ strange lingo ter you foreign jokers, but if yer think I’m gonna start talkin’ in a lah de dah voice you’ve got another think comin’. I’m not goin’ ter change me habits of a lifetime just ter please a mob o’ characters that get around lookin’ through field glasses, some with a crick in their necks lookin’ up at the sky, others scannin’ the horizon. Fair dinkum, I reckon that the wind’s blown their flamin’ hats off, and they’re spendin’ the rest o’ their lives lookin’ fer ‘em.
They tell me they’re lookin’ at birds, yeah, well, I know all about them, I put a damper outside ter cool this mornin,’ and as soon as I turned me back a flamin’ crow got stuck into it, only just saved enough fer me breakfast. Anyway, I guess I’ll have ter humour ‘em, but I reckon that lookin’ at birds while yer searchin’ fer something’s a good way ter pass the time, might try it meself some time. Now I reckon it’s time to cut the cackle and get this thing harnessed up and on the track, oh yeah, and if yer dunno what damper is you’ll just ‘ave to find out fer yerselves, I’ve got more important things to do than waste me time explainin’…..
The bush telegraph’s really been workin’ overtime, entries from all over, ‘aven’t ‘ad any by carrier pigeon yet but I’m not surprised at that, there’s a nest o’ birds up in the cliff over the river that really like a pigeon dinner.
* The first one’s from Andrew in Australia, he’s been havin’ fun takin’ pictures of Bustards in the bush. Mighty impressive birds, that one ‘ad me tricked fer a minute, thought he meant somethin’ else, ‘ad ter watch me spellin’….
* Michael sent one from London in the old country, he’s been chasin’ birds in his local patch. He needs ter be careful ‘is titfer doesn’t blow under the wheels of one of those double decker buses, that’d be the stone end of it.
* Caroline’s from that part o’ the world too, Wales, and she does bird watchin’ the sensible way, sittin’ inside in the warm with a beverage of ‘er choice, lookin’ through the window checkin’ out the birds that come to ‘er garden. Reckon she’s got the clues….
* Andy comes from Somerset, where the cider apples grow, broke inter song fer a minute there, showin’ me age eh? He’s been usin’ the bush telegraph too by the sound of it ter find new birds fer a year list that he keeps, seems pretty pleased with the outcome too.
* Anne sent one all the way from Flanders in Belgium. She saw a sparrowhawk in ‘er garden and tells a yarn about some old timers who thought the cuckoo changed into the sparrowhawk. Well, I don’t know about that, but a chicken got into me camp oven once and changed into a roast dinner….
* Must be a lot of stetsons blowin’ in the wind over in the USA, judgin’ by the number of yarns that are comin’ in from over there. A lady who calls ‘erself The Ridger’s been watchin’ and takin’ pictures of snowbirds. I hope she managed to keep ‘er head warm.
* Nancy from Saratoga Springs in the USA, sounds like a nice place, has just lost a favourite tree that birds called sapsuckers used to drill holes into. I could use a couple of them to drill holes fer the wire in the posts when I’m fencin’….
* Sure use some funny names over there, another lady who calls ‘erself Johnny Nutcase is a pretty darn good photographer. She’s taken a lot of great pictures of a Red-tailed Hawk gettin’ stuck into a rabbit that was a bit slow crossin’ the track.
* John sent in a good yarn and pictures about another Red-tailed Hawk. This one was tryin’ to climb a tree after a squirrel. Seems like it was as good at climbin’ trees as I am with me spurs on.
* Dave’s had a great time in a Rocky Mountains reserve, he’s been lookin’ at hawks too. I wonder if those big birds would use a stray stetson fer a nest if it landed in a tree upside down….
* Eric’s been ter see an ancient building in Arizona. The most interestin’ part fer him though is a pair of Great Horned Owls that ‘ave made a home in the roof of the shelter. Think I’d better make sure to shut the door when I’m away, I saw a big owl down the creek the other day, don’t want ‘im movin’ in with me.
* Diane’s from the USA as well, lives in a town called Farmington that’s had a visit from a flash lookin’ duck, never seen anything like it around these parts. She’s a pretty clever writer too, so I’d better watch me spellin’ with her intrerduction.
* JSK’s an Aussie livin’ in the USA, and she’s been lookin’ at Ring-billed Gulls skatin’ around on the ice. Looks mighty cold ter me, I wonder if gulls get chilblains on their feet….
* Mike’s the head sherang of this “I and the Bird” show, and you can see that he’s got the clues too, he headed south to get away from the cold weather and ended up in the mountains in Ecuador. Saw some flash lookin’ birds down there too, even though it looked a bit damp, wonder what he used ter keep ‘is head dry, a big leaf from the jungle maybe….
* David had the same idea as Mike, he sent one in with lots more photos, the birds down there are like nothin’ around this neck o’ the woods, all the colours o’ the rainbow, don’t miss ‘em whatever yer do.
* James is from Texas but he’s not a cowboy, no, he teaches English so I’d better be pretty careful writin’ this one. He’s another bloke that keeps a list, and although his is a neighbourhood bird list, he looks at other things too, all interestin’ stuff.
* Rob’s been fer a trip to Kenya in Africa studyin’ eagles, and he certainly found plenty ter keep ‘im busy, nine different sorts. The little animals over there must need eyes in the back o’ their heads to watch out fer that lot.
* Now, although I’m only an old bushie, I like a bit o’ poetry, and Liza Lee sent in a poem that came into ‘er head while she was drivin’ north on a cool sunny day, good stuff.
* Strike me lucky, I didn’t know what ter make o’ this one, Kirk and a mob of other people ‘ave been to a Crowmageddon, where they down a few beers and watch the crows come in ter roost. He filmed ‘em too, tens o’ thousands he reckons, and ‘ere’s me complainin’ about one pinchin’ a bit o’ me damper…..
* Carrie’s been lookin’ at a pipit. Now you’d think it’d be a simple thing to call a little bird like that by its right name, but there’s more to it than meets the eye. It’s flamin’ complicated in fact, too ‘ard fer an old bloke like me.
* Nate must be pretty keen on this birdin’ caper, he’s got two pair o’ field glasses. Just as well, cos he left ‘is good ones at work when he had to take a mob of youngsters on a trip to a big lake where all the water birds go ter get away from the snow and ice in the winter. Looks like the kids ‘ad a great time, good work Nate.
* This one comes from the Finch Wench, now that’s a tantalizin’ name if ever I heard one, she’s been watchin’ a big water bird too, a Great Egret. She didn’t have ter go paddlin’ around in a swamp ter watch it though, it found rich pickings around the hotel where the wench was stayin’. She got some good photos and movies of it cleanin’ up the lizards in the gardens, bet they tickled on the way down….
* Lady named Summer’s been doin’ a bit o’ fencin’, and there’s a hawk with sharp shins been keeping an eye on her and checkin’ out the job. Gave her a surprise though when it walked up ter the wood heap and jumped in tryin’ to catch one o’ the little birds that were sittin’ there watchin’ Summer work.
* Another bloke called John and his mates have been takin’ part in a big bird watchin’ competition, and he was pleased to see a bird he’s been lookin’ for all ‘is life. Got a keen name, Northern Saw-whet Owl, must ‘ave pretty sharp eyes ter spot that one up in the tree….
* Last one in from the USA came from Bora, now he’s a clever bloke, a scientist, and he’s been doin’ this research on ‘ow bluebirds use somethin’ called a circadian clock that tells ‘em when ter lay their eggs. Man after me own heart too, he wrote it all down on a sheet o’ paper. Me, I’ve got an old alarm clock that tells me when ter get up and cook a couple of eggs fer breakfast, if I remember ter wind it….
* There’s a lady in Canada who calls ‘erself Wanderin’ Weeta, and I tell you she knows a thing or two about those damper thievin’ crows, in fact she reckons she knows what they’re sayin’! That’s a good trick, wonder if she’d teach me the crow lingo….
* Seabrooke’s up that way too, she’s been takin’ pictures of birds called waxwings, on skis! ….that’s Seabrooke on the skis, not the birds I mean….
She must be pretty good on those things, I only tried ‘em once up on the high plains, finished up crossin’ me legs and takin’ a nose-dive into the snow, never again….
* Got one from a bloke called Clare who lives at a place called Arctic Bay. Lucky I kept me old school atlas to look it up, strike me pink he’s up near the North Pole! Didn’t know there’d be any birds up there, but there are, and he’s been doin’ some pretty smart work sortin’ out their pedigrees.
* Back in Australia, Mick lives in sunny Queensland, and she’s, yeah that’s right, she’s pretty darn good in a kayak. I found one o’ them in the river once and ‘ad a go, just went round in circles, reckon I was just about as good as Mulga Bill. Mick’s been takin’ pictures of little wadin’ birds, some with red ‘eads, and some with red necks, reckon they must’ve got sunburnt.
* Tony lives in Queensland too, he’s a Kiwi who came over lookin’ fer some sunshine but seems to ‘ave had more rain than anything lately. He takes some pretty good bird photos when the sun’s out, like these here. He reckons they could’ve been better, well I reckon he’s just too hard ter please, what do you think?
* Alan’s at the other end o’ the country, in Tassie, he’s got a bung leg too, a bit like the bloke I’m doin’ this job for. Seems as if he went down to a swamp and got tangled up in the reeds and couldn’t get out fer a while. Got some nice photos while he was there though. Just between you and me, I think he’d better cook ‘is damper a bit better next time, then he won’t scare the birds away with all that thunder….
* There’s a bloke I know who calls ‘imself Gouldiae, and he leads a mob o’ people chasin’ their Akubras around the countryside every month, they’re always dartin’ here and dartin’ there, (that’s a joke, you’ll get it when yer read ‘is yarn.) Don’t think they’ve found any yet, but they’ve seen a lot o’ birds ….
* Now, this old joker I know who fell over and busted ‘is knee a few months ago, stone cold sober he was too, or so he tells me. He likes lookin’ at birds as well but he ‘asn’t had much chance fer a while. He took a few pictures at home the other day, so I s’pose I’d better not leave ‘im out in case he gets cranky, yer know what old codgers are like.
Well, that’s got that job out o’ the way, thirty three good yarns, and me poor old fingers are nearly worn down ter the knuckles tappin’ these flamin’ keys. Made me feel a bit peckish too, reckon it’s time I cooked meself a bit o’ tucker, think I’ll stir up the campfire and have a sausage on a toasted slice o’ damper with termater sauce. If that flamin’ crow’s lucky I might throw it some scraps…. if there’s any left. Sorry fer the black and white pictures, but me Box Brownie doesn’t take colour film…. Get yer mice ter give ‘em a click if yer want ter see ‘em a bit bigger. See yer later mates and I ‘ope yer find yer hats!
Dear readers, I really must apologise for the appalling spelling and grammar in this post. Due to my injury I was unable to sit at the computer to do it myself, so had to enlist the help of an old chap I’ve been associated with for nearly seventy five years. I impressed on him the standard required for such a celebrated carnival as “I and the Bird”, but it seems as though I should have saved my breath. I’m sure he did his best, but it’s clear that he has just been too long in the bush. I hope you have managed to understand his Australian accent, and that Mike will find it in his heart to forgive this unforgivable lapse in standards.
Oh, and by the way, he doesn’t know much about birds either, the “crow” that stole his damper is actually a Little Raven, but the old bushmen call all those black birds “crows”, so perhaps we shouldn’t be too hard on him for that. Duncan.
The next I and the Bird will be hosted at Somewhere in NJ on 2/18/10