#29 – ‘quelea’


At the Malawi/Tanzania border
I stepped out of the bus
and saw dark wisps
moving across the sky.

They were birds, sparrow-sized,
and each wisp was hundreds
or thousands. As each wisp left,
another appeared, and another
and another and another.

While we were there, I thought
perhaps 500 000 birds
flew over us, give or take
a hundred thousand.

Red-billed Quelea.
Not many species
can be identified
by numbers alone.

When I tried to interest my friends
in one of nature