I see things in trees. Sort of like shapes in clouds. Or Rorschach ink blots…but we won’t go there. Anyway, I’m a bit nutty about trees. All sorts of trees. This is the driveway into where I’m currently staying.
Anyway, this morning I was sitting here looking out the window, as you do, when suddenly I noticed a chicken sitting fairly high up in the tree. It looked a bit like some guinea fowl I once saw roosting in a tree, watching the sunset with us, high above Cape Town. Well, that’s not so unusual–chooks often roost in trees—why not guinea fowl?
I hadn’t heard any chook sounds emanating from next door — dogs, plenty! kids, yes; petrol-heads gunning their engines in the driveway, oh, yes. But never a chicken sound, so I was mildly surprised to see this chook.
I continued watching for a while, trying to see if there were any more, when it changed position. Oh, my–silly me. It wasn’t a chicken at all; it was a cat, grooming herself. I know there are cats that live there ’cause they used to visit me at my house before it became a forest of studs. So I watched it a while, thinking it was probably stalking one of the pretty little goldfinches that were flitting around close by, hoping it wouldn’t catch one. Then a big gust of wind came along and blew the branches and leaves all around. Guess what: there was no cat at all. Nor a chook. Silly, silly me.
A few minutes later, however, I saw a little owl — technically, a boobook owl, sometimes called a Mopoke, for the sound it makes. I had been hearing one nearby in the evenings. Gorgeous little things. I watched it for a while, then noticed it appeared to be morphing into a stump of a broken branch. Well, I’ll be damned, thought I. It isn’t a Mopoke at all. It’s a frogmouth! The Tawny Frogmouth is not actually an owl, even though it is often called one because it’s nocturnal. Anyway, the neat thing about this unusual bird is how, when it senses threat, it points its beak up and stretches its neck, camouflaging itself as a part of the tree, which is what it was doing now. They can be very difficult to see, so I was rather excited to have spotted this one. I used to have a pair of frogmouths that roosted every day just above my mailbox at Fossil Cove. They’re great birds.
Now I don’t generally attribute irony to Nature, so you can imagine my surprise when I realised that what I was looking at was actually a stump of a broken branch that had morphed into a Frogmouth! MM