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April 22, 2024

Pigeon Bay

By Grant Shimmin

Pigeon Bay

Banks Peninsula, New Zealand

As the path unfurls into forest from the still water’s edge
Bellbirds peal out intersecting songs of painful purity
The collision of calls unaffects their collective clarity

Till a buzz saws across it,
the wing-whirred bass thrum of a bumblebee on manoeuvres
Hovering, note rising for forward
One sweep, then two, then the peals ring back true

In a treetop, a pair.
“How do you do, Mr and Mrs Kererū?”*
Honorifics seem apt since their kind names this place
But they utter no sound
Then, in lieu of reply
Widening wingbeats whoosh wind gusts through pliant air
En route to a higher perch elsewhere

Out of the trees, sun heading for hiding
A shag rides the shadows its leaving is lengthening
Its cry on the wing like a haunting reminder
It shouldn’t go far, with reunion hours hence

Now the path rewinds, a bellbird reprise
A melodious chatter slides into the ringing
It’s the music of migrants
Or at least their descendants
But these magpies merge seamlessly into the chorus

The trail leads us back to the end of itself
Playful fantails flit chattily between nearby branches
Evening draws in

*New Zealand pigeon

Article © Grant Shimmin. All rights reserved.
Published on 2024-04-01
Image(s) are public domain.
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