Posted in Africa, Birds, Nature, Nonfiction, Photography, Travel, Writing

Camp Staff

photograph by Cheryl Merrill
photograph by Cheryl Merrill

 

I turn my head toward the sun’s white-hot eye. Behind my closed eyelids burn a thousand childish sketches of red suns. I hear one of the regular camp staff scratching around my feet for crumbs: a Red-billed Francolin, who believes his territory includes the kitchen shelter and its surroundings. The color of his legs, feet and bill match, but they look more orange than red to me. He’s plump as a pillow, with a bright yellow circle around each eye – but woe to any other francolin who trespasses. The resulting chases are explosive, noisy, and continue until he’s satisfied the intruder is back in the bush where he belongs. Male francolins have spurs on their legs, and they don’t hesitate to use them in fights. When he’s this close I can see the tiny black claws at the end of his toes, and hear his soft chuckles when he finds another crumb.

Posted in Africa, Birds, Nature, Photography, Travel

A Surf of Birds

Red-billed Queleas

An Excerpt from my book:

On the far side of a large swath of golden grass the air shimmers, full of birds. As if by some sort of avian telepathy, Red-billed queleas rise and fall in curling waves, with wing-beats that sound like distant surf. Wave after wave washes across the clearing in front of us. It’s impossible to distinguish individual birds among the swell and tumble. Dust rises, perfumed by millions of feathers, hundreds of birds, each bird no bigger than my thumb. The flock settles into a tree. The branches of the tree droop as if suddenly laden with snow, then spring back up as the birds roll on.