Monday, 14 March 2022
We’ve taken a serviced apartment in a busy part of the Kathmandu conurbation where it feels like wildlife cannot possibly survive. There are though barbets calling, wheeling black kites overhead and visits from treepies, koels and others.
For the last several days I’ve been aware of bursts of drumming which I first mistook for a distant jack-hammer. There is still so much construction and reconstruction going on that this seemed the most likely explanation. As I heard it again and again though and realised it was moving around I thought it could turn out to be a woodpecker. The tree that seemed to be a likely woodpecker haunt was old and skeletal and overlooked the small dusty carpark of our hotel. Then yesterday as I went outside and was unlocking my bicycle, he drummed again and finally I saw a fine piebald woodpecker with a red head. I stood transfixed by the spectacle of his head moving so fast that it became a blur. The behaviour is of course a breeding season display – advertising his fitness to any admirers. I love that fact that their skulls are especially thick to cope with the impacts.
The carpark is manned by a pleasant chap in a rather fierce-looking black military-style uniform and he came to stand next to me to look at what I was looking at. ‘This is noise, Madam.' He explained in English. He seemed to be stating the obvious.
'Ma chara herchu,’ (I’m looking at a bird) I said.
'This is ‘ood, Madam.’ Nepalis often have trouble pronouncing initial double-us.
‘Hoina. Ma chara herchu,’ I repeated.
‘Chhora hoina,’ (There is no child!). Chara is bird; chhora is child. I have continuing difficulties pronouncing the two different ch sounds. He was looking sympathetically at the idiot now; no doubt I was grinning like a donkey.
‘Hoina, ma chaaaaara herchu,’ I enunciated slowly. And as if to back me up the woodpecker drummed again. I continued in Nepali, ‘Look the bird is there. It has a red head and black-and-white the body. Beautiful, eh?’
Finally he saw it, looked back at me, pityingly probably, and wandered back to his little guard house.
Posted: 14/03/2022 04:09:34
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Filed under: birds