Posted by: commonpoorwill | December 7, 2009

A Big Day for Diggers

Dear readers,

Prepare yourselves for some old-school Digby. We’re taking the site back to its roots today (no more pandas – I’m really sorry about that, guys. I was being a tool); get pumped for a stream of posts, excitement and bird-related pandamonium – pun! I’m seriously sorry, guys.

I’ve had a productive few months in the field, refreshing my love of bird-life and research. Recently I was led by my Cassowary and friend Arukitori into what turned out to be a really interesting ornithological moment. Since the two of us have had a stressful couple of years, what with all this blogging and whatnot (just kidding!), I decided to treat Aruki to a celebratory research trip, to rejoice in his good health around the globe. While we were in Papua New Guinea, we visited the site where Aruki’s family once did roam. It was an emotional time for both of us. I could see the Cassowary tears in his Cassowary eyes. That night, while I was asleep in the shower (a handy time saver for the traveling scientist), Aruki snuck out of our cottage, leaving him nowhere to be seen. After a few hours of panic, followed by an hour or so of weeping, it dawned on me that perhaps Aruki had ventured back to the significant place of his ancestry.

Pulling on a cardigan and a beanie, I slipped through the hanging beads on our door and into the balmy New Guinea twilight. Mosquitos tarnished my worry-lined face instantly, but I was almost immune to their stings and cries for attention in my state of pure terror. Stepping into the dust, I could make out, barely, the impression of a cassowary’s foot on the earth, headed in the direction I had postulated that it would. Pretty neat.

I made my way in the same direction, pushing through the rainforest with classic Poorwill determination – I didn’t even stop to check out new species of avian beast (I was pretty crazy). As I had suspected, I soon found Aruki, nestled on the patch of earth we had visited earlier that day. My attempts to drag him back to our cottage proved fruitless, and he seemed adamant that he would stay put right there, staring into the grim shadows of his native habitat.

Throwing my beanie compassionately to the ground, I squatted beside my friend, knowing that sometimes all one needs is a friend to just be there. We must have sat there, Aruki settled down in the soil with his face in my neck, and me with my arm round his back, gently singing his favourite Iggy Pop melodies, all night long. Finally, when dawn began to crack, Aruki’s spirits seemed to rise a little and he feebly stood up. Together we trekked back to our cottage to enjoy our last day in New Guinea together; two friends ’til the end.

We finished the trip up with a day out fishing off the coast of the shore. Saw a few gulls out and I caught a few more fish than Aruki. I didn’t say anything though, because that’s the kinda guy I am.

So now that we’re back, it’s time to share some of the knowledge I’ve come across (that little story is just the tip of the iceberg, friends), so get settled, maybe grab a bag of popcorn, and come along with me as we explore the mysteries of birds and, in particular, their maneuverability.

The Mona Lisa

Great Catch, Aruki!

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