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August 4th, 2009

Sunset Bird

Growing up on an island, it's hard to imagine not loving west coasts.

Sure, the east has its good points as the sun rises over the horizon, but it's those long, lingering sunsets that really make island life worth living. West, as I might well say, is definitely best.

A long west coast, like the US's Pacific coast, is a special thing, where sunsets change with the weather - and where you are on that coast. Seattle's spectacular Olympic sunsets are one extreme, as are San Diego's southern orange fade to black. We were on Coronado Island when this little bird hoped up onto a pole, just in time to catch the evening light.

Sunset Bird

It may have just been a sparrow, but in that evening light it became more than a little brown bird.

Coronado Island, California
May 2009

Extraordinary!

We often forget that chickens are really creatures of the forest floor, living in the humidity of sub-tropical rain forests. Trapped in battery huts, or pecking around a dusty farmyard, or even free range in fields, these are not the real essence of chicken.

It's only when you see a small group of feral chickens coming out of the underbrush in a Hawaiian forest, that you realise that the birds you know are mere facsimiles of the real thing. Even though these birds, like many you see on Big Island, are interlopers, they're more at home here than most of the places you'll see them. Suddenly things make sense: the high stepping walk as they cross exposed roots, the bright coloured feathers to stand out from the viridian bush, the loud cry to keep flocks together, the scrapping to find insects and seeds under the detritus of the forest floor.

You hear them coming first, the cluck of the hens and the crowing, herding call of the cocks. They're wary, hiding from mongoose in the bush, darting behind leaves at every noise. Then they come out, ballet stepping across the forest floor, the cocks guiding the hens across the clearing - fast - to keep out of danger.

Extraordinary!

Lava Trees, Big Island, Hawaii
June 2009