Camber Sands

URBAN ECO: Weaver birds – The beginning!

Shortly after relocating from London to Botswana – I noticed a weird green ball had appeared in our lemon tree.

I was wondering what it was when a bright yellow bird flew in, holding some grass. It was chattering and soon weaving the strand through the intriguing contraption – Holy fork – it was a nest! I had never seen anything like it and ran off to fetch our bird-book, previously un-touched.

It was a male, masked weaver – as common in Gaborone as a sparrow once was in London – my first up-close and personal experience of wildlife in Botswana! I longed to see more.

The Okavango Delta, Botswana

To the north of us sprawled the wondrous Okavango Delta, revered as a place of beauty, so far only seen in pictures, and on TV.

London Wetlands

But look! 👆This is London! An aerial shot of the Wetland Centre, created only around twenty years ago, looking remarkably similar.

London Wetland Centre

My daughter and I visited when we were next in England.

Birds I had been expecting, but not otters. The Wetlands Centre said that the otters were ‘in their natural habitat.’

Otters in London was as startling to me as weaver birds in Gaborone, and I can only describe the feeling that welled up inside of me as the most immense, humbling gratitude – followed by a substantial wallop of guilt, that this had somehow passed me by.

Otters in London

The Thames had been a dirty, murky river when I had been growing up in the area, dotted with the odd shopping trolley and old plastic bottle. It didn’t bother me at the time, pre-occupied as I was with adolescence, and whether or not my hair looked good, but it bothered me now.

I had never imagined otters in there, or king-fishers dipping in and out for fish, or reed banks full of wading birds. It was deeply touching – and thought -provoking – that somebody else had.

English Kingfisher

I wasn’t sure how I could get involved, I wasn’t even able to make a mermaid sit up straight, but I desperately wanted to say thank you. So back in Botswana, I hurriedly set up a donation before it slipped my mind.

I had recalled a couple of double-u’s in the acronym, and assumed it was WW F – World Wildlife Fund. I mean, how many double-u double-u wildlife organisations can there be? 😏

Our weaver bird made more nests. He bounced on the branches, simultaneously flapping his wings to create vibrations – calling would-be mates to come and check out his efforts. If a female weaver approves a nest, she moves in and starts a family. If not, he builds others, until she is satisfied with the quality.

Eventually, little chirps told us he had finally succeeded, and the monthly donations to WWF started to trickle out.

Weavers and Otters 2
Weavers and Otters 1


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