Monday, October 11, 2010


Raucous [raw-kuhs]
1. harsh; strident; grating: raucous voices, raucous laughter
2. rowdy; disorderly: a raucous party.

I’m onto my second gin and tonic but (surprisingly) it’s not me who’s raucous, it’s the birds! It’s blissfully mild out in the backyard because Spring has finally settled in. Dinner is in the oven...yes, it’s still cool enough to cook...and I’m taking half an hour with an escapist novel under the lemon-scentd gum thanks to author Donna Leon who transports me to exotic foreign places even when I have heaven in my own backyard.

Swedish birds tweet in tones I can only describe as decorous. I am always amused by their dignified restraint. Even the skata don’t swoop and screech like the lorikeets and wattle birds currently decimating the delicate gum blossoms above my head.  Australian birds are loud, unruly and raucous. One local website categorises our backyard birds as hooters, cacklers, carollers, criers and screechers!

We took some Swedish friends camping in one of Victoria’s famous National Parks a few years ago and the dawn cacophony had them laughing in their tent along with the kookaburras. A dawn chorus it was Not! A chorus implies something melodic and Aussie birds know only decibels and disorderly! We all emerged from the warmth of our winter sleeping bags to walk down to Tidal River to enjoy the particularly unSwedish performance of wattle birds, yellow-tailed black cockatoos, magpies, kookaburras, sulphur-crested cockatoos and assorted other local avian types!

So as I sit and enjoy the sunset squawking and watch the burnished gold fade from the sensuous limbs of the gum tree I’m lucky enough to have in my own backyard, I’m thinking of the Swedish birds just waking and shaking their wings…and twittering their way into another northern hemisphere morning.


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