Sunday, 4 May 2014


     THE FOOD-SHARE: Part 1
   Across fom my house, there's a wide "green space" that travels along the rear of two suburbs. It has diverse terrain, centred with a track for walkers and the occasional (illegal) motor vehicles and trail bikes. Steep hills, interspersed with high, flat stretches, make for interesting walks, and one which many local birds bring chicks to for survival lessons.
   Immediately in front of my house is a long plateau at the top of a slight hill. Not visible from the house and travelling alongside the entire green space, is a busy 4-lane highway that lays at the bottom of a steep drop.
   On the far side of the highway, previous open country had gone on well into the distance. Since living here, new suburbs have been built through areas to my north, but all had been too far and too hidden to see.
   Until two years ago.
   The undeveloped land next to the highway and across from me, was a huge area that was home to a kookaburra I called Barney, and his extended family.
   Many bird species are sociable and form groups, but when a group of kookaburras appears, chances are that they're all related.
   I named Barney when he suddenly began appearing in my backyard every afternoon. Always alone, and always leaving at least five or six family members on the power lines in front of my house. Barney turned up at the same time each day I'd taken to throw out pieces of meat for visiting magpies.
   Eventually, the magpies moved on, but Barney kept coming daily for three years. And then, just as suddenly as he began, he stopped coming. I feared the worst, but then heard him and his family "laughing" in the vicinity.
   The reason for his altered routine, was the appearance of bulldozers in his territory. Men and machines had moved in and begun clearing Barney's ancestral grounds. This wasn't only a catastrophe for the kookaburras, but also sparrowhawks, the occasional eagle, and many migratory birds that stayed for the spring/summer season, feasting on various offerings of the native trees and shrubs.
   There was also the sheer joy of seeing the annual visitors produce chicks and nuture them in an area which would imprint itself onto them for life. In following years, again and again, I've seen the same birds return, and watch as they circle the area around my home, as a sign of recognition when they arrive.
   And so, what the bulldozers represented, was nothing less than a tragedy.
                •••••( End of Part 1)•••••

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