Wednesday, August 12, 2009

My Animals And Other Family

As I settle into life in RD Towers I'm slowly getting used to something I hadn't anticipated; animals.

This life, this bang right on the river life, as least when combined with the somewhat oxymoronic heat of a British summer, is chock full of riverside nature. Most of it is good, all of it is interesting and some is a downright pain in the arse.

The window in my sitting room is about ten feet away from the water of the Thames, a little marina that runs at ninety degrees off the river. It's open and boats are moored in it, for a price, and all manner of river life swim, float and fly in. At first I struggled with it all. I just wasn't used to being woken up in the middle of the night by the squawking of ducks playing or the gaggle of a gaggle of geese.

These things are loud, there's a little black duck looking thing that appears to be the most vocal of them all. Amila would know what it was instantly, the long Latin name and all. To me they're just black ducks, ones that make very loud noises and look small. At first I'd hear the big and piercing noise and stare out trying to trace the owner of it. I'd focus on finding a Swan sized thing, perhaps a Pteradactyl or a Goose, all of which I see regularly there.

I was lying about seeing one of those birds regularly. Can you guess which one it is children? Though, I must confess that I'm seriously proud of the fact that I spelt it correctly first time, a quick google proved my guess to be correct, which I hadn't expected.

Swans are mean mothers aren't they? There are lots of the chaps in the vicinity and they scare me in a rather elegant way, maybe how Uma Thurman would if she turned up with a gun. There's nothing cuddly, cute or warm about a Swan. They just look elegant, dangerous and businesslike, with a strong neck that Michael Schumacher dreams of, just not as long.

David Blacker probably kills a Swan and eats it for breakfast with pol sambol before setting off to work and beating up Jean Claude Van Damme, Vin Diesel and Van Heusen on his way. I'm not hard like that and I look at the average Swan, not that any of them are average, and shiver girly style before making a face and running away.

The other evening, and I swear to you that this is true, I was sitting and flicking through the crap TV channels when I saw a Swan swim past my window. No big deal at all, they wander in the marina all the time. Then I saw another one. Then I saw another. I could go on here with a bit of copy and pasting but I won't, you get the gist. They kept coming, so many that I leapt up and scarpered to the window to get a proper look.

There were twenty five of them, I counted. They just swam in, looked around a bit, presumably for food, then the front fellow turned round and they all followed him out. I was amazed and startled. I wasn't aware that Swans travelled around in fleets or herds or whatever the collective term is for a start. C told me that it's a wedge of Swans but that's when they're flying. On top of that I was flabbergasted at the amount of the white beasts in this group and the way they appeared to exhibit a follow the leader mentality.

It's a frequent occurrence to hear flapping and slapping noises and see a Goose or two doing a crash landing thing outside my window. It has to be said that Geese just aren't good at landing, they're the bird equivalent of one of those holidaymaker videos of a plane coming into land at an unspecified airport in an unspecified country. They flap madly and then bounce along the water before coming to rest.

I've yet to witness it but I bet some of these Geese misjudge things and hit poles and things, perhaps other Eastern Europeans too. Once they come to rest they're the epitome of elegance and look as if calmness is their middle name. They also provide the best fat for making roast potatoes according to Nigella and Delia, which might explain their nervous landings.

At first I'd wake up a few times in the night disturbed by the sounds of birds fighting outside my bedroom window. I mentioned this to the aforementioned Blacker the other day and he said that he's often had the same thing happen to him. Turns out his birds don't have wings and are fighting over him, my ones are scrapping over food and well, whatever birds fight about.

These days I sometimes get woken by the noises but I reckon it's only the more violent ones. It's becoming the new backdrop to my nights though.

And there's the Spiders. Now I'm not the homophobic type, but I'm also no big spider fan. I avoid them yet don't have a huge fear of them, they just exist. But, in RD Towers, they exist as if they're going out of fashion. It must be to do with the river. It's not a musty old building by any means. All is clean, newish and tidy inside, but it's some sort of Spider haven. Not a day goes by when I don't walk through a web and then spend ages trying to get it out of my hair.

Every few days I can be seen hoovering the ceiling, the window frames and any other random place that gets Spiderised. I'll tell you what, if I could be a superhero I would not choose Spiderman, even if I got to wear the outfit.

Overall, Spiders excepted, I'm getting used to and fond of all this river life and birdlife. It's fun and engaging and new.

But I won't be going vegetarian tomorrow.


Gallicissa said...

Enjoyed your birding post, RD!

This black duck is likely to be (Eurasian/Common) Coot. Brits call it Coot. It isn't a true duck despite the looks (more related to our korawakka). I have seen in Thames and they are quite common over there. It is a good bird to see in SL as they are scarce here.

Just check the link below and listen to its call to see whether it matches your suspect:

It has a pretty piercing call alright.

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Hey Amila - Yes that definitely sounds like the chaps. Out of interest what's the best way to cook them? Only joking!

Gallicissa said...

hehe...the Domestic Goddess may know the answer! These water birds do taste a bit fishy I am told.

Dee said...

hahahaha RD I REALLY enjoyed this post! And I think you give David a hellava lot of credit. haha :D

Dee said...

little black duck looking thing? haha...

Gyppo said...

Quite off topic, I love Gerald Durrell :D I went to Jersey for a few days for my cousin's wedding and my biggest regret is not going to see his zoo :( We kept making plans to go but my parents kept putting it off until it was too late :(

totalwatsansrilanka said...

Hi! Nice post..
Follow my blog also to see the beauty of the
ELEPHANT in SRI LANKA…videos…. Videos… videos… videos.. videos.. videos….. videos… videos… videos… videos.. videos…..!!!!!!!!!!