Reflections on recent events, plus the occasional fact
free rant unfiltered by rational argument.
That bloody bird is back. It’s getting earlier each year. Now, I like birdsong. It can be soothing, atmospheric and a pleasure. I have CDs of Australian birds that send me into slumber with ease.
Then you have the Asian Koel. A bird from which bursts forth the most piercing relentless torment. I wouldn’t mind except it's not even a big bird nor does it have stunning plumage. Simply put, it’s a mind-numbing nuisance, that goes on for hours and hours.
Moreover, it's heard above my rumbling air conditioner. It's heard inside the car with the windows closed, engine running. You’d think it was sitting outside the window belting out its call. But no, it’s some distance away hidden in a tree beyond catapult or rifle range. Should you think I’m overstating the case, please play the attached video on a loop. That should give you a flavour of my torment.
The Asian Koel (Eudynamys scolopaceus) earns a reputation as the most annoying creature on the planet. That call can go on for hours without a break. And why? He’s looking for a mate.
In the past, he started disrupting our sleep around April time. Perhaps global warming is prompting him to be earlier.
The Koel is a member of the Cuckoo family to be found across the Indian Subcontinent, China and Southeast Asia. These are robust birds that live for up to 14 years adapting well to urban environments. Yes, I know that - too well.
So, you can imagine it’s 4 am, and the world is at rest, you’re in quiet surroundings. Then a lovesick male Koel suddenly pipes up. He may be hundreds of meters away; it doesn’t matter you won’t be getting much sleep. From Singapore to Hong Kong, this bloody bird is attracting complaints. In the past I’ve taken ‘999’ calls from distraught citizens asking for something to be done. Fortunately, the mating season is only a couple of months long. By May he's usually quiet.
The Koel is not even endearing in its reproductive habits. Defined as a ‘brood parasite’ by the experts. This monster tricks other birds, usually crows, into looking after its offspring. Thus, the males create a racket, does the business with a female and then abandons the kids. What a bastard. Also, the Koel hosts some parasites, including malaria-like protozoa, lice and nematodes. Is there any reason not to shoot this bird?
It’s started up again. Bloody hell.
Walter De Havilland is one of the last of the colonial coppers. He served 35 years in the Hong Kong Police.