26 January 2012

A bestiary (2)

[by special request from Julie Heyward...]

In my early childhood, before either of my brothers, was a blue and green budgerigar called Toss.

My mother hated cages, so Toss could often be seen trilling from chair backs and picture rails or swooping between them. If I stayed motionless for long enough Toss would sometimes alight on my head, claws latching into hair. The sudden scratching at my scalp was alarming at first, but I soon got used to it.

Usually very fastidious about returning to his cage and conducting personal hygiene needs from the dowel perch onto his sandpaper floor, Toss made one mistake. On a parabolic transit from one picture rail to another, he whirred between us across the dinner table. My father sat, frozen with fork halfway to mouth, staring at the black and white puddle which had blossomed in his plate of stew.

Some years later, in Australia, I was agog with excitement. It was from here that Toss's ancestors had come; here, budgerigars flew wild! I roamed the countryside at the abrupt edge or our town, looking for them, without success. Eventually I discovered, to my disappointment, that here they were not in the brilliant colours of Toss; those I found in the wild wore a quieter camouflage livery, reminiscent of the European sparrow.

There were, however, plenty of other brilliantly coloured birds to compensate. Out in the bush they were everywhere: large, small, flying jewels. Parakeets, in particular, flaunted their riotous plumage openly across the bush. In a valley where we sometimes went to picnic at weekends, wild kilometres out into the bush, they filled the sky with their raucous chatter. One of this flock, obviously escaped from captivity back to the wild, repeatedly called in an unmistakable Yorkshire accent: “Eeeee ... who's a silly bugger?”


Geoff said...

So good to read, as was number one; give me more.

Julie Heyward said...

Ahhh ... yes, thank you. Can (3) be far behind?

Felix said...

Geoff, Julie ... yeah, (3) is in the pipeline...