Friday, 15 March 2013

Early Morning Call?

A couple of days ago, I was just swimming woozily out of a convoluted, surreal dream, as per usual, at some time around 7.30am, when my wife nudged me and said, "Hear that? He must be right outside!"

Now, I rather like it when she nudges me and says, "Cup of tea?", whereupon I just about manage to lift my head up far enough to see a steaming cup of Earl Grey and a digestive biscuit sitting alluringly on the bedside cabinet, but, BUT! This wasn't one of those occasions. Mind you, I did indeed hear something and it did too sound like it was coming from right outside the bedroom window.

At this time of year we can get lucky with bird spotting. It's a migratory route this East coast of Rhodes and we've had some pretty spectacular strokes of luck over the years (Rock Thrushes, Storks, Red-footed Falcons); but sometimes it's just a resident bird that excites us by giving us a chance to get up close and personal, as it were, albeit unwittingly. In the last week we've had some excellent views of a pair of Siskin, flocks of Goldfinches, various birds of prey ranging from the Kestrel to the Golden Eagle, then there are Hooded Crows galore, Black Redstarts, Crested Larks and Blackbirds, the last of which is now singing sublimely in the valley every day at dusk. The song of the blackbird is truly one of the natural world's greatest and most uplifting delights and we can look forward to hearing it right through until August, as indeed can most residents of the UK who don't live deep in the urban sprawl.

One bird that usually only grants one a view of its back as it scampers along the ground before achieving lift-off and soaring at very low level around a few bushes before once more going to ground is the Chukar. Now, you can go all the way to Hawaii to watch this bird, but there's really no need because they are resident here on Rhodes. The Chukar is a member of the pheasant/partridge family (no relation to David Cassidy. Now kids, ask your parents, they'll tell you. That's if they're not too embarrassed to own up that they know who he was). If you only get the rear view (the bird now, not Mr. Cassidy) you can easily mistake this most exquisitely-coloured bird for a common or garden partridge. But get a chance to see him or her from the front, get a view of the head or chest and there's no mistaking what you're looking at - and at half past seven the other morning, having had the bedclothes pulled back from my reluctant body and been told to go and get the camera before it flies away - the bird that is, not the camera. Ours is most definitely of the non-flying variety - I found myself actually thanking my better half for driving me to it. The window blind was only six inches up from the bottom and I had to snap it through the glass, but the familiar "chuka-chuka-chuka" sound was indeed coming from the rock on the "cliff" just behind the house.

I got this...

Go on, admit it, he's very handsome. Can't rustle up a pot of Earl Grey though, so... handsome yes, but clever? the jury's out.

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