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November 19, 2010 / Dan Whipple

The curse of little birds

The bird life around the upper deck seems to have changed subtly over the past few weeks. There appear to be fewer black kites, for instance. At night the chorus seems a little quieter. The morning calls are different from earlier in the month, and the species emitting them unidentified. Whether they are a different species, or simply different calls from the birds shifting from mating to nesting mode, I can’t say.

I have decided that I’ll have to become an expert in the larger Kenyan birds, because I can never see the smaller ones. By the time someone has pointed one out to me, the damn thing has flown away.

“Oh, look, it’s a red-billed fire finch,” they say.

Yeah, sure it is.

In that spirit I’m tracking the progress of a pair of hadada ibises nesting in the tree just over yonder, barely out of sight. But they too have added a new vocalization, an almost mechanical tic-tic-tic-tic, which goes on and on, like the purring of a cat. It sounds like a very quiet cement mixer.

You can hear it on this ten second audio, along with a louder, more musical call of a bird that is (I think) the common bulbul. But it’s a small bird, so of course I never really got a good look at it.


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