I woke up this morning at about 08:30. Yes, I'm still giving my circadian clock free reign. As I walked into the kitchen, I heard an eerie noise outside: teeoo, teeoo, teeoo. Initially, I assumed that it must be a distressed cat, or maybe a small child. Staring at the neighbour's roof, I tried to locate the origin of this strange and sad noise. Suddenly a large, dark bird almost 50cm long spread its wings and flew out of a nearby leopard tree, still making that forlorn call. I held my breath. It circled once, then flapped and glided in a sine curve pattern, heading east. This was not the normal straight flight pattern of a sparrow. It was exotic, indolent, sinuous. Tropical. I felt like I had seen a roc straight out of The One Thousand And One Nights. I waited outside for a long time, but it did not return.
It was a Tockus nasutus, or African grey hornbill. It must have been lost: this is a Bushveld bird, an omnivore of the savannah. It does not occur on the Highveld and definitely not in built-up areas. This is what I like about living in Africa. Every once in a while you'll read in the newspaper about a leopard that got into someone's back yard, or about a hippo cooling off in a municipal swimming pool. No matter how much urban sprawl, commerce and human greed destroys the beauty and diversity of nature, something will survive. And thrive.
"Tweedledum and Tweedledee
Agreed to have a battle;
For Tweedledum said Tweedledee
Had spoiled his nice new rattle .
Just then flew down a monstrous crow,
As black as a tar-barrel;
Which frightened both the heroes so,
They quite forgot their quarrel."
- Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll (1865)
May some magnificent creature frighten you out of your quarrels today.