Tuesday, October 12, 2004


I leave the house in the morning, and a group of alarmed Mynas flutter away from the tree in front of the house. They swing and hide in the other trees, chattering all the time, till I pass by and then they return to the tree. I cross the highway in front of the university and wind my way through the buildings. There's a huge meadow between the Univ. buildings and the lab. As I start trudging through the grass, I notice the usual group of Ducks hanging around the lake. There's a kid flying a model airplane today, and a Magpie is chasing it in desperation. just as you'd think the bird has succeeded in attacking the plane, the kid dips the plane in a veering arc and the chase starts all over again. they tell me Magpies are getting to be dangerous and would attack you if you went too close to their nests. I believe them; these birds look and act so much like crows that you'd treat them like an old friend who has just returned form the States where he went to study and now speaks with an accent. On summery hot days the meadow is clear, but on muggy cold overcast days, the Swallows come. They circle me in ever dwindling circles as I walk across the grass. I first thought that they were mobbing me, but this was something else. I think they pick off the insects that are startled by my footsteps. Sometimes, there are as many as 10 Swallows all zinging by me at a 100 kmph. As I'm about to reach the lab, I'm startled by the raucous screeching of the Sulphur Crested Cockatoo. These white birds are very pretty, except for the fact that they like pterodactyls. Around me on the lawn there's a flock of Galahs (Pink Cockatoo) grazing on the lawn. Like little pink sheep. They're so tame here, that I can walk within a few feet of them and they hardly look up to see, even when I say- Hi, Galah! Sometimes, there's a Kookaburra perched on one of the fences, but it doesn't laugh as much as I thought it would. But it sure looks like a fancy kingfisher. But then, everything looks fancy here, even the pigeon has a little kingly crest. Now I've reached the lab. My window looks out to some fruit bearing tree, and every afternoon, a high pitched metallic tone warns me that the Crimson Rosella is here. They're really beautiful and I usually spend a couple of minutes watching their acrobatic antics, because usually they're screaming around at a frenetic speed, so fast, and in so much of a hurry to get somewhere, that you never actually see what they look like, they leave only afterimages.