Shortly after sunset yesterday three bird brains here got vixenated.
In the twilight of June’s quarter waxing moon, after a wait of sixteen years, I became properly reacquainted with the Red-necked Nightjar. Andalusia’s “Chotacabra pardo”. And we were introduced by a familiar fox.
I first heard the Nightjar from the bed, for he was close. Inevitably we fully modern humans were surfing the net. Such a wild and tropical sound of the night, the perfect interruption to a near daily digest of depressingly crowded digitised ‘realities’.
The clarion call of Nature catapults the seventh decade human into a ‘shambling Spitfire Squadron scramble’. I don shorts, shirt and sandals, double quick. And, as soon as the “Faroffskis”, iPhone and Fenix are in hand I am outside. On my way to meet it.
Through the faintest apricot afterglow, of Tuesday June 15, I hobble-jog the forty yards or so to a stand quite still at the low green donkey gate. The entrance to our compound. From here I scan the donkey paddock, the wind bevelled eucalyptus belt and the dark eastern sky.
Thank the gods he was still calling, calling loudly: “cho-tuk … cho-tuk … cho-tuk … tuic”. Uncharacteristically sharp I spot him quickly. He is perched on the outermost twig of the spindly skeleton of a former eucalyptus, a desiccated victim of our chaotic times.
He was calling directly above what is nowadays a beetle bejewelled compost heap. It’s a re-wilded diorama (of many here) that I’ve hidden in the fallen hedge of prickly pear cactus who return to the dust behind a little hut of crumbling cement.
After a few minutes of turning this way and that, in repeated bouts of vigorous calling, during which one can see his white throat feathers puffing in and out with each call, the big broad tailed nightjar lifts and flies. And glides down. Straight to the gate! Towards me. What the …?
Aha! Our habituated vixen has appeared. She comes from behind the big red oleander shrub, just to the right of the gate. Trots onto the rough white stony access track, sees the man, stops. I realise that there is a pair of nightjars mobbing her, uttering soft and gloopy “chott” “chott” calls of anxiety.
One nightjar lands so close, between the vixen and myself. Only a long jump beyond the green wooden gate. Even in the poor light, through the Swarovision 8.5x 42, I can make out a delightful array of what would be cryptic patterning; were the nightjar not sitting on a chalky track .
The vixen habitually recognises this man, just as the man has recognised this vixen. So she comes even nearer. Stops again and stares up at me. Confronted now with two ‘big’ problematic mammals the nightjars lift and float away, disappearing into the indigo gloom of the eastern sky.
The two mammals continue to stare at each other over the cross beam of the gate. Both remain stock still. Eventually the vixen declines any telepathic invitation to slip under the gate. She trots off along a cattle trail through the oleander clump. Quickly getting behind me and off to the remains of our dinner (and some), that I had placed in a crannied wall, next to our bedroom, only half an hour earlier.
And me, I slide back down to earth! Skipping off an invisible stream of connective energy that, for a moment or possibly three, had profoundly reconfigured my all too frequently dislocated relationship with Earth, and our Mother Orb.