Wednesday, 8 May 2013

6 o' the best - Green Tinker style!

Before the advent of child psychology children understood consequence or as I recall the lesson - cause & effect. Cause a disturbance & you were effectively corrected, without exception. One such proponent of the cause & effect theorem was our Std 6 mathematics teacher. [The equivalent of Grade 28 in South Africa today]. This steel-wristed, cane-carrying professor of pain, who lived by the credo practice makes perfect & who tolerated no deviance or malfeasance, was genuinely admired for the perfectly parallel, tri-coloured stripes he could lay down on either cheek, at a whim, for any misdemeanour, real or imagined. If you're reading this Sir, my fondest salaams...

Green Tinkerbird
Drive down a forested alley in Mozambique no wider than the fat lady & experience the joy of 6 perfectly parallel lines etched deeply into each side of the car. No amount of rubbing can ever allay the inner screams..  Was finding the Green Tinkerbird worth the price of a respray? Yes, indeed!

Our sincerest gratitude to Maans Booysens & the Birams et al who kindly cut short their celebratory tea & biscuits to point out the spot they'd seen their bird an hour earlier. Well met!

Finding 2307_3519 is only half-way home. Actually seeing the bird is something else all together. Our first bird took two hours of heart-hammering perseverance. Pressed for time & soaked through by the incessant rain our pics are rudimentary at best. We'll return some day, on bicycles & assuming the DJ hasn't played the tune too often, for more respectful photos of a bird that ranks at No. 1 on my SA chart.
The Panda special...
The Mozambique we love..

Qual e o problema que se esta a passar? It's a term you'll hear often enough if you ask the right people at the right time. Whenever possible we engage with the local people, particularly in Mozambique, who represent an unparalleled diversity of history & intent. Tempered by conflict & the fortitude that comes from living off the land, most of the rural folk protect their subsistence lifestyle with passive humility.  

In that vein the elderly farmer, who patiently tended his maize & cassava in a slash & burn clearing, adjacent to the Green Tinkerbird site, was more than a little nonplussed at our arrival on his doorstep. Qual e o problema que se esta a passar..? [What is all the fuss about?] A bird? There are many birds in Mozambique & there are many trees in Mozambique... Eh?
What's really going on? Near Panda the remnant glades of mature Brachystegia, in which the Olive-headed Weaver breeds & is largely dependent for food, is all but gone; at least as far as can be seen from the roadside. The remaining trees are systematically ring-barked to make room for low-yield or marginal crops which usually fail in the sandy soils. Near & en route the G. Tinkerbird site birds persist but in low numbers, generally. Indigenous parrots are sold at most stalls, in most markets, for not much more than dez (10) meticais.  
The road to Panda from the north - inaccessible..
Whilst most of Mozambique's children attend well-kept schools, infrastructure is poor, if it exists at all. The Chinese re-engineered EN1 along Mozambique's coast is a traverse-relief & a vast improvement on the 'road' we used not too long ago. Notwithstanding, the heavily laden super-links ferrying indigenous wood down from the dwindling north to the port of Maputo, en route Shanghai, are having a negative impact on the road & the sanctity of Mozambique's heritage.

Vida nao e so uma cerveja - [Very roughly - life isn't always as simple as beer].. Recalling my high-school maths - If x+y = z and where x is habitat & y is food then finding z shouldn't prove too difficult. Lose x or y or both and z becomes nothing more than a figment of the imagination. 

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