Many of my early readers and followers of this blog will recall I am a follower of Jon Young, author of “What the Robin Knows”.
His book is not so much about robins per se as about making connections with birds in their world.
Jon is among other things a skilled tracker and an outdoors trainer. He was taught by some of the best trackers and hunters from his tribe with the Native Americans. His work, and humanitarian activities have taken him around the world and he often tells the story of a Sans Bushman from Africa who said,
“I see a small bird and recognise it, a thin thread is formed between me and the bird. If I just see it no thread is made. If I go again, and again, and recognise the bird, the thread will thicken. Each time I recognise the bird the thread will grow to become a string, a cord and then a rope. We make ropes to all aspects of creation in this way.”
He also tells of the time he was at a meeting in a glass-walled office suite and said to the folk in the room, “You have a cat in your courtyard”. No, no, they replied, there are no animals allowed in the gardens. A minute or so later, a cat strolled nonchalantly across the manicured lawns. How did he know that, they asked. “The birds in the garden were acting in a manner that suggested a cat was nearby,” Jon replied.
Over the years I’ve managed, and its not bragging, just the way I work, of building some fine rope connections with some birds. Perhaps because of their personality, or sheer inquisitiveness, but like Jon, there a several such stories I could tell, a few of them have been subjects of this blog in the past.
EE and I have located a Brown Falcon at nest. Dangerous really, as Browns broach no interference in this serious business, and someone, even with good intentions, sticking a camera in their work space is not taken kindly. So having worked out where the activity was taking place, I’ve made a wide berth of the spot. I also know, from past experience, that if all is well, and I don’t press the boundaries, respect their business and keep to my side of the line, that eventually the line will become narrower, and I’ll be able to see just a little more. Then sometimes the bird graces us with the chance to enter into its world, and while I might not have free access, at least I’m treated benignly.
What worries me about sharing this is that some will drag out the ‘Photographers Code of Practice”, or some such and berate me for my impertinence. However if I’m not invited, I don’t go.
Someone will ask ‘How do you know?”
To which I have to respond honestly, “Why don’t you go out and sit with a bird and find out for yourself.” Operative point of that is— ‘sit with the bird’.
Here’s the scoop. She sits the nest. He hunts. A large gleeful cackle brings an instant response from her and she is off the nest and in the air to accept his delivery. She will feed, preen, stretch and then return to the nest. If I’m not wanted, then I don’t see any of that.
Where it gets really exciting is this Brown, feed, then landed on a branch quite close to where we were standing, and sat.
She realised no movement from us, and after about 20 minutes, she began the process of putting all her nest crumpled feathers back in place. Then she waited, flew past a few metres out, landed on another tree, and repeated the process. The shots here were taken over about an hour, and neither EE or I moved much more than a metre or so.
Again she preened, rearranged, and then stepped out, and circled to land in the nest.
Now I should also add that I’ve worked with the bird a few seasons before, so we are not complete strangers. In fact over the time she has taught me quite a bit about the world of Brown Falcon. Still so much more to learn.