How Weaver birds taught me a thing or two ‘the beginning’

Shortly after we had relocated to Gaborone, capital of Botswana – a weird green ball appeared in our lemon tree.

I stared at it for a while, wondering what it was, when a small, bright yellow bird flew in, holding some grass. It was soon chattering and weaving the strand into 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 had once been in London.

This was my first up-close and personal experience of wild-life in Botswana, and I longed to see more. To the north of us sprawled the wondrous Okavango Delta, revered as a place of beauty, which I had only seen in pictures, and on TV.

The Okavango Delta, Botswana
London Wetlands

But hang on a minute, it looks a lot like London, I’m confused?

This is an ariel shot of Londons’ Wetlands? I was immediately struck by the similarity it bore to the Okavango Delta, and decided to take my daughter there whilst on a visit to England.

As well as the birds I had been expecting, they had successfully reared otters ‘in their natural habitat’ – another revelation.

Otters in London

This 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 somehow all this had thus far escaped me.

The Thames had been a dirty, murky river, when I had been growing up, dotted with the odd shopping trolley and old plastic bottle, which hadn’t bothered me much at the time, pre-occupied as I was with having the best flick in the world, and so on and so forth.

I had never imagined otters in there, or king-fishers dipping in and out for fish, or reed banks full of wading birds; so 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 began to donate to the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) having recalled a couple of double u’s in the acronym, and being under the impression that this is where we had visited.

It was, in fact, the WWT (Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust) but it was a while before I would realise that, as you can see in the next post.

Meanwhile, our weaver bird finished his nests and started bouncing on the branches, simultaneously flapping his wings to create vibrations – his way of calling female weavers to come and check out his efforts.

If she approves a nest, she moves in, and if not – he builds another, until she’s satisfied with the quality. Eventually, little chirps told us he had finally succeeded.

Weavers and Otters 2
Weavers and Otters 1

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