Thursday, 18 September 2014


My brother and I are cleaning out our parents' house in order for it to be sold.  If you've read my first book, How Many Birds is That? you may remember the first chapter, 'All Thanks to a Hooded Robin' which is about my parents' place and the wonderful birds I've seen there over the years.  They bought the property because of its bird life.

Last Wednesday morning, I was wiping down bookshelves and quite bored with the job.  My back was aching, I was alone and the task seemed endless.  Outside the sun was shining and the birds were singing.  A Grey Shrike-thrush and an Eastern Yellow Robin both did their best to entice me out into the sunshine.  A cup of coffee on the verandah watching White-browed Babblers play in the garden and Little Lorikeets flit overhead would surely do me good.  Wouldn't I return to my work with renewed vigour and work twice as well?  Stoically, I ignored the birds' invitation and kept working. Then I heard a Gilbert's Whistler.  He was very close.  I dropped my cloth and rushed outside.

Gilbert's Whistler at my parents' place
He was very beautiful.  He sat, singing, allowing me to enjoy his presence.  It seemed a long time since I'd been so close to a Gilbert's Whistler.

When my parents were alive, and I visited them regularly, my records show that I'd see Gilbert's Whistlers every month.  They nested in the garden each year.  If, on any occasion, I found I didn't have them on my birdlist, I'd go to the garage and slam the door.  The birds would dutifully call in response.  Sometimes my Dad could get them to call by clapping his hands.  I seem to remember that my claps were not quite loud enough.

I've seen them in South Australia a few times, but the last time I'd seen them in Victoria, was at my parents' place in August 2009, and here one was now right in the garden where he belonged.  That bird lifted my spirits enormously.  I returned to my cleaning with a happy heart, revitalized more than any caffeine boost could have done.

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