Birds by Barbara Boivin  

Roy and Alf were down at their local pub. It was a Thursday night and their usual outing having a pint and putting the world to rights. They usually debated the rights and wrongs of local government. On this particular evening however Roy asked "so what are you going to write about this time"? Roy knew Alf liked to write short stories, mainly for his grandchildren, nothing too intellectual but rather fun stories, just for a laugh. So when Alf said birds Roy asked him – "do you mean like the one sitting over in the corner wearing those bright red boots, she looks a bit of alright". Alf laughed and said "don’t let my wife hear to say that. No, it’s the feathered variety and there are just so many to choose from, even in my own garden. There are the sparrows – lots of them with the odd chaffinch. Then there are the ducks, especially in the spring they come with their ducklings. They start off with about 15 and then the numbers dwindle, probably attached by either cats or water rats. I have had some of the ducks knock on may ranch slider door hoping to be fed. The pukekos make a mess in the flower garden which doesn’t please my wife as they sometimes dig up her newly planted freesias. The magpies with a chorus of yodelling sound quite delightful".

When he was growing up Alf believed if you came across a magpie to stop it from attacking you, you should say “salute the magpie” but have since been told no, it’s “how's your wife” but what if it’s a female bird, do you ask "how’s your husband" and who the heck can tell the difference.

Now and then on a still evening a morepork (ruru) call can be heard from up in the bush. A reassuring call – like everything is well and you can sleep in peace.

Alf looked at some ornithological books at the library hoping for inspiration, but nothing helped. "Good grief" said Roy, "you are taking this whole thing seriously.  Are you going all intellectual on me, when I thought all the time it was more beer and rugby"?  Alf replied, "well it keeps me out of my wife’s way especially when she is entertaining some of her girlfriends. They go on and on talking a lot of rubbish if you ask me".

Fantails  (piwakawaka) are a favourite. Alf said he enjoys watching them when he working in the garden shed and when he’s out raking up the autumn leaves they flit about quite unconcerned catching insects. They are an absolute delight.

But when it comes to the crunch Alf would vote for the grey warbler. (riorio). It only seems to be heard this time of the year, heralding in autumn, which happens to be his favourite season – here is the song of the grey warbler.

May 2023

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