Monday, 2 July 2018

post-dated post script: shore birds

We’ve returned to a very fine campsite on the southern end of Lake Garda (previously) but this time were graced with a pitch directly on the water, just behind a copse of reeds that despite the foot-traffic of campers and dogs, a variety of sea birds use as a living and breeding habitat.
There were the familiar friends in mallards and those more mysterious and wary black plumed birds with the white beaks that I called Nō theatre ducks until learning that they’re properly called bandicoots (Fulica—Latin for coot, a mud hen, apparently oder eine Blässhuhn) but judging by the multi-voiced chorus each morning, a crescendo of calls that formed this wall of sound, there were more sorts of birds hiding in the tall grass.
Later some sea gulls, crows, pigeons (the latter being strange candidates for cohabitating I thought) revealed themselves but we still weren’t able to identify all the cries, which was quite the persistent wake-up call with no snooze option. For warmth, growing ducklings sleep all tangled up, like a rat king.
I recall reading how in huge colonies, bats and other swarming creatures distinguish their vocal signatures by choosing unique places in terms of frequency or pitch but in situations where range is shared, I wondered how confusion was avoided—except that these diverse species seem to respect one another and wait their turns, going in a sort of coordinated, pre-arranged sequence. Here are a couple of audio samples, which became a pretty endearing accompaniment over the next few days. I wish I had taken a recording during the first few days before the weather turned stormy as the sounds seemed more distinct and there was less lapping of waves but happily all the residents and the reeds weathered the winds and driven rains just fine, if not a bit off key.