There is something serene about bird hides; they almost always are at the edge of water, or at least the ones that I have been to.
Of these, one of my favourites is Geelbek at the southern edge of Langebaan Lagoon, about an hour’s drive from Cape Town up the West Coast, in the West Coast National Park:
This area has a drier feel to it, and those who have been there, and spent time on its beaches, will know that sense of sea and salt and surf and wind, gentle or strong, bokkoms in the breeze …
You need a stomach for bokkoms, and beer too, to help wash them down!
Geelbek is a bird hide that has a boardwalk about half a kilometer long.
Actually, as you walk along it, often alone if it happens to be a weekday, just before sunset, it seems as if you are walking along for an eternity.
The walk along the board walk will either have you looking at mud plopping here and there at low tide with some crustacean sea life or other, in between the reeds, and other beautiful (presumably) fynbos like growth (I have no idea what these plants are, I just lose myself in the beauty of what I see … ) or, at high tide, looking at birds merely floating or sky diving onto insects or other creatures …
On some occasions, flamingos … also here and there … walk by slowly and they will hang around, doing whatever it is that they are doing, their long stalks and long beaks engaged in doing, well, whatever it is that they are doing.
There can be all sorts of birds … and again, despite this having been my ‘must do’ stop over on the way back from my municipal client, I have mostly no idea what type of birds they are.
Beauty can be appreciated as beauty regardless of its name … after all, the name is just our own made up invention for our own sake … nature, its creatures, its volcanic types, its geo-morphology, all made up in our heads for the purpose of survival really.
There is no data record in some Divine database in the multiverses that says that in universe X on planet 3 from a Sol in some obscure Milky Way back water of that universe is a ‘bird’ type ‘flamingo’ as some human ape chewing bokkoms and drinking a beer is walking by on the boardwalk to a bird hide at a certain ‘Time’ Y, time being also just some figment of our imagination to help us make some sense of what is the reality around us! Okay, perhaps there is … but it would only make sense to God and The Angels …
Either way, just appreciating the moment without a bird book or binoculars, just chewing bokkoms and sipping a beer quietly is more than sufficient.
When you get to the bird hide, the last fifty metres or so are screened off so that birds do not see you and if you are quiet they do not hear you either.
Places like these though have you become quiet in awe … even the creak of the board walk as you step along makes you feel as if you are being disrespectful.
There is a city south down the freeway, of three million souls or more, but here you could be on the edge of a universe, never mind the edge of a magnificent lagoon.
Normally I will just sit there, mesmerized by the incredible peace and tranquility.
Often I may be a bit too early for the symphony of birds that will soon take place, as the Sun prepares to conduct its performance …
Sometimes I wonder at the information board, how tiny winged creatures can fly off to far places in the Northern Hemisphere, when the winter rains approach!?
One of these bird types fly over the area in Italy that my parents to and from every year like the human swallows that they are.
There is a bird hide not too far from their village that I have been to, and I wonder if any of these bird types spend time there as well … ?
In my grand father’s stable there was a clay swallows nest that was repeatedly filled every Spring for years on end … how did these swallows achieve that?
The Southern Cross on the way here, or the Pole Star on the way there?
In the moment, there in such beauty, does any how and why really matter … ?
Copyright © 2015 G. Rigotti