We were sitting in our upstairs studio this morning having breakfast when a movement outside caught my eye. This is what we saw. I think of it as a heron, the bird book calls it an Airone Cenerino, and when it sits on the top of a nearby cypress tree it is a very large bird indeed. This one, or its kin, can frequently be found in the river that runs along Via Betti, 5 km below us on the outskirts of Rapallo proper, and while we enjoy seeing it there, we’ve never thought of it as being especially unusual.
We can’t imagine why it came to sit in a cypress tree relatively far from water. When it left it circled higher and higher and then disappeared to the north. Was it looking for fish in the sky? Out joy-riding? We like to look at birds, though we don’t seek them out or consider ourselves birdwatchers… perhaps this bird is a people-watcher and had gotten wind of a couple of Americans to add to its life-list. It just goes to show, context is everything. In the river it’s a pleasant sight, in the cypress tree it’s astonishing.
Speaking of bird-watching, Jonathan Franzen gives a fascinating account of doing just that in China in his ‘Letter from the Yangtze Delta,’ “The Way of the Puffin” (The New Yorker, April 21, 2008, p. 90). I can give you a link only to the abstract of the story, because the full article is not available free online, but if you have a library card your library may well be able to supply the full text of the story, either online or hard copy. This is culture shock seen through binoculars while searching for birds.
And on a different subject altogether, thank you all who have written comments – I am so happy you visit this site, and I love hearing what you have to say!