Tobago

Tobago
Horizon at Sandy Point

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Jacamar Jacamar where have you been?

This is how the day started:

You sit unruffled on the line leading down the rocky slope, iridescent green shining softly in the early light. Rufous you are called for a brick red breast with rosy glints. Sitting so still, you teach the unobservant to look again.

The Rufous-tailed Jacamar Galibula ruficauda ruficauda (according to that excellent new Field Guide to the Birds of Trinidad and Tobago, Martyn Kenefick, Robin Restall and Floyd Hayes) is not common in Trinidad but is seen occasionally "at the forest edge and second growth at all elevations" as the book says. A lot more common in Tobago. They feed on insects caught in flight.

Jacamar, Jacamar, it is your shrill call "pwee pwee-ee-ee pwee-ee-ee" that I hear just as the sun is coming over the mountain. Teach us to see.

And here's how it ended:
Smokey days and burning sunsets. Tongues of flame flicker along dry grass and bamboo litter lining overheated asphalt. In the mornings the hills are smoking, the air ashy and acrid. Even rocks burn, talcum white or sooty grey. Felled trees crackle and ignite, falling in showers of sparks. Coming home now on Saddle Road out of Maraval, the valley is a duotone: leafless silk cotton and teak bathed in crimson as the sun slips over Paramin. Vision of hell, or end of days. We sleep already in shrouds of smoke and haze.

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