Monday, 19 February 2007

Swift moves

The musk lorikeets were having a rare old time in the sugar gums when I arrived at work this morning. They were too far away to see—even with binoculars—but the shriek and shrill of their massed chorus was unmistakeable. They must have stayed there all day because they were heading off to roost (or possibly go out partying) as I left at about 7pm.

Musk lorikeets fly as if they're not entirely convinced they can stay in the air but they're going to give it their best shot. They flap frantically, their little wings blurred with effort. They gain enough confidence to glide ... for a moment ... and then they panic. The hysterical wing beats begin again.

Needle-tailed swifts are more elegant. A flock of them were hawking for insects between the campus buildings. Or perhaps they were showing off to the lorikeets. When the first one appeared, it flew past so quickly that I mistook it for a small falcon*. The lorikeets seemed to have made the same error because they scattered—in an even more hectic fashion than usual. So did the pigeons. The swifts manoeuvred around them like an aerial stunt team. I almost applauded.
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*I've mentioned before that I'm the world's second worst bird watcher.

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