Posts Tagged ‘hoopoe’

The Hoopoe

“You have to know the past to understand the present.” –Carl Sagan          

A Bird from my Past — and Present

No. That bird at the feet of the zebra isn't a Hoopoe. It's a Hammerkop, and one of the 182 life birds I saw on my African safari. -- Photo by Pat Bean

No. That bird at the feet of the zebra isn’t a Hoopoe. It’s a Hammerkop, and one of the 182 life birds I saw on my African safari. — Photo by Pat Bean

I had never heard of such a thing as a Hoopoe until I read John Michener’s novel, The Source. That was a long time ago. The book was published in 1965, and if I remember correctly I read it right after it came out. I was a Michner fan back then.

This is a Wikimedia photo of a Hoopoe. Sadly I didn't get a good photo of he bird when I saw it, which is actually more normal than not. -- Wikimedia photo

This is a Wikimedia photo of a Hoopoe. Sadly I didn’t get a good photo of he bird when I saw it, which is actually more normal than not. — Wikimedia photo

He wrote 27 fictional novels – and not skinny books either – between 1947 and 2007. The first was Tales of the South Pacific, and the last was Matecumbe, published in its unpolished form a year after his death.

Of all Michener’s books, The Source was my favorite. I think it was because of how Michrner used the bird as a literary device, how described it, and how he named one of his characters Hoopoe, and then claimed he had been named after the bird.

When I read The Source those many years ago, I never expected I would ever get to see a Hoopoe. But I did, while on an African safari in 2007. That trip was one of the top two travel experiences of my life. The other was the 1991 trip when I paddled the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. I still don’t know which trip should lead off my travel adventure tales. .

It wasn’t until 1999 that I became a passionate birdwatcher. It’s a hobby that caught me by the heart right when my 20 years of passionate white-water rafting heydays, were coming to an end. Wasn’t I lucky?

I’ve found that life always has questions and surprises – like the Hoopoe – to keep my days interesting. And these days, such surprises seem to engage my brain to make connections with my memories. Life is good. Especially since my back is no longer hurting.

Bean Pat http://tinyurl.com/o2jye94 A fascinating tale of the Hoopoe Bird.

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 “Be grateful for luck. Pay the thunder no mind – listen to the birds. And don’t hate nobody.” – Eubie Blake

Verreaux eagle owl -- Photo by Kim Perrin

African Safari: “Stop, Stop!”

As we drove out of Arusha, leaving Bilal and Tanzania behind for Kenya, I touted up my number of new life birds. Adding the ones I had seen in Tarangire National Park yesterday afternoon and this morning’s wildlife drive, the total was 135.

Some like the more exotic hoopoe, grey-crowned herons and noisy go-away-birds had been easy to identify, and Bilal had stopped the Land Rover for closer looks automatically. But most of the time, and especially for the smaller, less flamboyant birds along the way, it was me who was always hollering “Stop, stop!”

Lilac-breasted roller -- Photo by Pat Bean

I could see I was annoying Bilal, and Kim said stopping the big Land Rover with all its gears took time. I tried, honestly I did, to curb my actions, but my enthusiasm for a potentially new lifer simply couldn’t be contained.

I truly did get as big a high from spotting a lilac-breasted roller or even a plain black sooty chat as I did from seeing an elephant or a lion, which I’m sure only another addicted birder will understand. And while Bilal never missed stopping for any big cat in our vicinity, he often seemed blind when it came to many of the birds.

White-bellied go-away-bird. They're quite noisy and everybody usually ends up telling them to go away. -- Wikipedia photo

So it was with great delight that on one of our wildlife drives it was Kim hollering to Bilal to stop – and if anything she did it more commandingly and every bit as loud as my frequent calls for halts.

Almost jumping up and down, she ordered Bilal to back up to a spot beneath a tree we had just passed. The bird she had seen, and which I had totally missed, was a magnificent Verreaux eagle owl.

Silvery-cheeked hornbill -- Wikipedia photo

Unlike most of my calls for halts, Bilal didn’t roll his eyes this time. He was as impressed as we both were.

Like so many of the owls I’ve seen sleeping high in American trees, it stayed put and simply blinked its sleepy eyes at us a few times. Slightly bigger than a great-horned owl, this African species had a ruffled white feather collar and pink eyelids.

Since it was the only one we would see during our Safari, I owed Kim big time.

Bird Log of New Lifers: White-bellied go-away-bird, ashy starling, lesser grey shrike, green-winged pytilia, hammerkop, cardinal quelea, yellow-bellied greenbul,. Tarangire National Park, August 27.

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