Saturday, May 21, 2005

This One’s for the Birds

When I was regularly hiking the hills I was into bird-watching.  I'd lug my binoculars along on most of my trips.  Whenever I heard a bird singing, or noticed some movements in the leaves, I'd scan the trees looking for it.  Fellow hikers would enquire what I was looking at.  Some midget brained guys even think I was looking for courting couples to peep at.  Another remarked that you don’t need binoculars to look at a bird.  You only have to squat down.  The short-sighted gink!  Sheesh!  Why can't these guys keep their sleazy mentality to themselves?  I don't even think they'd bother to come to these hills for that kind of activity.  I mean those courting people.  It's a pretty steep climb for those who don't take hiking seriously.  On my first few trips, it took me about half a dozen stops to catch my breath before I got to the top. 


Back to the birds; the species I've often seen were the long-tailed pheasants which love to hop around in low trees.  These birds have a fiery red ring around their eyes and their tail feathers have alternate dashes of grey and white.  They are quite large, about half the size of a full grown chicken.  They don’t chirp, they don’t sing.  Just browse around in the trees quietly.  And if you look them in the eye, they just stare back at you.


Sometimes I'd hear the peck-peck-pecking of a woodpecker pecking on an old tree.  It reminded me of the old "Woodpecker's Song" I used to sing in school.  Once I saw a couple of them.  They were cackling loudly and doing some kind of ritual dancing, dashing from tree to tree.  I also had the luck of seeing a large grey eagle (or was it a hawk?) resting on a branch of a tall tree several times.  Then there were olive-green coloured wood pigeons (Punai Daun) which love to pick at berries in the bushes.  These types always feed in a group.  Quite often I'd spy a solitary bird the Malays called Punai Hijau.  You can recognise it by its shiny green coat and short orange beak and stout body.  They told me its meat is sweet.  I thought: "Hmm, I'm appreciating its beauty, these guys think of it as a delicacy!" 


I noticed that birds that sing beautifully are not as attractive as those which move about quietly among the trees.  Some even blend so well with their surroundings you'd have to look hard to see them.  You only know they’re there when they start to fly away because of all that attention they’re getting.

(Photo of woodpecker 'borrowed' from

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