Tuesday, January 24, 2006
A little moment of magic
Just before darkness fell, tonight, I noticed some movement in the shrubbery outside my window. Little birds were "working" through my planted garden, obviously searching for insects. Often in winter one will observe what are called by birdwatchers "mixed feeding flocks" - birds of several species all together. That is what was happening today. It is supposedly "high summer" - a maximum of about 16 degrees C, with a thick wet fog all day. I can only assume that the birds had stayed put all day, hoping that the weather would lift, and then in the last half-hour, they decided thay had better "go shopping". Maybe? Anyway, what were they? Brown Thornbill (Acanthiza pusilla); White-browed Scrubwren (Sericornis frontalis); Silvereye (Zosterops lateralis); Golden Whistler - female (Pachycephala pectoralis); Rufous Fantail (Rhipidura rufifrons). For me, the best moment was when the Rufous Fantail arrived. It hopped across the ground (as the Scrubwrens were doing). I was looking down from above, so this gave me a perfect view of its fanned tail, with the lovely russet-coloured feathers on its back and tail. Normally this bird is a bit of a skulker, keeping to dense cover, and then bursting out to fly upwards to snatch some tiny insects (in flight). The most "colour" one usually sees is a flash of red-brown as the bird dives back into a Sassafras tree. Not tonight. There it was, with its tail fanned out fully, hopping across the tanbark, immediately below me. A birdwatcher can only dream of moments like these, however brief they may be.