Sunday, November 11, 2007

A reddish start

Winter, in my neck of the woods, has been disappointing this year. The Small Green Bee-eaters (Merops orientalis) that come by the swarm by October have just trickled in. There is no sign of the dark-coloured mystery warbler that came last year in winter and stayed till March. Regular lookouts for MigrantWatch have not yielded even one of the nine migrants on the watchlist. I was banking on seeing the Common Swallow (Hirundo rustica) overhead, and harboured some hope that the Rosy Starling (Sturnus roseus) might join its cousins in our environs. So far, zilch. It was all beginning to get personal.

Then suddenly this morning, a rustle in the entangled clump of hibiscus and lime. Quite expecting the Tailorbird (Orthotomus sutorius), I looked. A Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros)! Never seen before in our gardens and so we made sure, turning the pages of the field guide with fumbling hands. Mrs Black Redstart, it was. The quivering tail, the keen black eye, the glorious orangey-red…

She looked around pretty much like a prospective tenant trying to decide if the place would do. If she needed help making up her mind, we urged her on, wanting her very much to settle in our favour. Come again, bring the husband and stay the winter. The rents are low and we’re peaceable neighbours. She will come again, I think, she had the air.