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Spoonbills return to Girards Hill

TUNING IN: Spoonbill Manor is more riveting than reality television.
TUNING IN: Spoonbill Manor is more riveting than reality television. Contributed

THE spoonbills are back in the heritage tree on Girards Hill. I can now spend many a happy hour sitting on veranda, binoculars at the ready and watch the avian soap opera.

This is like the 1954 Hitchcock classic thriller Rear Window. That's the one about a photojournalist (Jimmy Stewart) trapped in his apartment with a broken leg. He spies on his neighbours from his chair and becomes convinced he has seen a murder. Think of me as Jimmy Stewart, minus the broken leg and photojournalism career but just as devilishly good looking. I spy on the birds every moment I can get.

Now, the spoonbills have only recently arrived so the drama is high. The crows, who normally dominate the tree, are fighting to retain their space. But resistance is futile. The spoonbills merely get up and wave their long black bills at them a threatening way and the crows flee. Just out of reach. Sometimes they fly to the top of the tree to complain loudly. But no one is listening. The spoonbills are majestically indifferent. They are building their nests and settling in.

They came last year to the tree and it was, I am told, the first time in 30 years that the wading birds had been seen in this very high tree. Then we had the great flood.

Coincidence? Or have they simply found a spot they like? After all it has great views. It's halfway between the Lismore Lake and the pond at Waste Collection Centre (aka tip).

Plus it's relatively undisturbed apart for some weird person with binoculars watching them.

There are some gloomy soothsayers in the community who have seized on this a sign of impending doom.

"Oh,” they say grimly. "This means another flood.”

Some people are like that. The love a good disaster. Tell them about an upcoming train trip they instantly recall a recent train crash and can relate in detail how long people were stuck in the wreckage. Catch a ferry and they cheerfully talk of ferry sinkings and the number of school children who sank like stones because of their heavy backpacks.

Me, I take a more optimistic view. I prefer not to engage with talk that is about how awful the world is and that we are all headed to days of destruction. Discussions like that have no perceivable merit and they leave me feeling powerless and glum.

So, I pick up my binoculars and watch the beautiful big birds as they make their nests. The spoonbills are back and life is good.


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