Aaaak! Aaaaak! Aaaaaaarrrk!

Imagine the scene:

It’s just after 5h00 in the morning. The world outside is wet, sodden, soaked through after a whole day of rain, rain, rain. It was still raining when you went to bed, and you were aware of it raining through the night. You’re snuggled deeply underneath the duvet, head buried under the blankets, inhaling warmth. You’re only barely aware of a warm furry cat curled up behind your knees, occasionally purring and sometimes whimpering in deep sleep.

You too have been carried away by a dream, fighting an imagined foe, having a nonsensical conversation with someone who looks vaguely familiar, experiencing a bewildering array of emotions, fragments of the last days’ living and imagining embedded in your dream.

Gradually, you become aware of a sound…


repeated at intervals…


It sounds like a trumpet calling soldiers to battle in a strange land. You’re not sure where you are, with part of you still in your dream, wanting to make sense of the sound but not wanting to awaken just yet. It’s too early to be awake! But your waking mind is growing, emerging from that other, stranger and more confusing world into this one.


What is making that noise?!


You’re awake now. And you realise that what you’ve been hearing is the unforgettable call of a hadeda ibis. Judging from the volume of the sound, and its direction, the hadeda is probably sitting on the garage roof, or in the big tree outside the window, or perhaps balancing on the edge of the bird bath.


Man, it’s LOUD.

There’s a pause. It’s probably one of the two new ones, born in the neighbour’s backyard adjoining your backyard. Perhaps the poor little fella’s just had a nightmare and is calling out for Mom.

Another call, plaintive sounding, “AAAAAAK!”

A reply from another direction: “AAAAAK!” Perhaps that was Daddy saying, “Go back to bed!”

What time is it? 05h10? It’s pitch dark outside, and you can almost feel the wetness of the grass and the leaves in the garden. You can almost hear the water running off the huge leaves of the Delicious Monster. You really don’t want to go outside now to chase it away; you imagine your bare feet on the cold, sodden, muddy grass, accidentally trampling snails and slugs…

Nope, definitely not a good idea.


You almost jump out of your skin. Good grief!

The hadeda keeps calling. You wonder briefly whether you should turn the hosepipe on this feathery fiend, and you have several uncharitable thoughts about large, loud birds. You try to distract yourself by counting between calls, trying to see if there is a pattern. 5, 8, 4, 9, 7, 14, 3, 9….


It doesn’t look like there’s a pattern.

The only advantage to counting is that it’s having a slightly hypnotic effect…

And then, an hour later, although it seems like barely a minute later, the radio starts chattering, and it’s time to get up.


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