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20 July 2006

Visitor

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.

3 comments:

arcadia said...

hoe laat jy my nou mafikeng mis. daar het dikwels beeste en donkies en skape in ons tuin (in 'n suburban woonbuurt) kom wandel...nou nie so eksoties nie, maar steeds genoeg vir 'n lekker village-gevoel.

The Electric Orchid Hunter said...

Ek hoop nie die diertjies het té veel verwoesting gesaai nie! Persoonlik is ek skrikkerig vir skape. Ek het 'n... erm, onderonsie met 'n bok gehad toe ek klein was, en skape se oë freak my bietjie uit.

arcadia said...

die grootste probleem was dikwels op die paaie - mafikeng is die een plek waar die traffic report oor die radio uitwys dat daar 'n trop bokke in nelson mandela-rylaan rondwandel... ek is nie mal oor bokke nie (dis nou boerbokke) - hulle is 'n bietjie te wild na my sin. en ek het op skool 'n leesboek gehad wat gehandel het oor die destruction wat 'n bok in 'n ou tannie se huis en tuin veroorsaak het; dit het my baie ontstel en het somehow in my onderbewuste vasgesteek.