This is a Pygmy Kingfisher - more about him, and how he found his way to making a nest in our tea towel, shortly.
Apoligies, once again, in the meantime for the lack of blogging activity. As attentive readers would know, I have been hard at work finishing off the structural edits to my top-secret second non-fiction book. More on that in due course. Now I'm back to the comparatively easy job of cranking out another 140,000-word novel. Piece of piss, as we used to say in the army.
Mrs Blog and I have been having many adventures these last couple of weeks, in between edits, so I have no shortage of material to blog about. You'll just have to be patient with me as I get around to writing it (and getting back to my novel, which is foundering around page 135 at the moment). The next few posts have a distinctly conservationist theme to them, so get read to be alternately enraged and moved to tears (of joy, of course).
But back to the small but perfectly formed kingfisher (or fish-kinger as one of our young Zimbabwean friends calls them).
The Pygmy Kingfisher is, I believe, relatively common, but I rarely see them. I've maybe seen two or three in the last fifteen years of travelling around Africa. It's similar in size to the spectacularly colourful Malachite Kingfisher, but the Pygmy is no slouch when it comes to plummage, either. To give you an idea of size, he would fit easily into the palm of a short person's hand.
So, LOF, imagine my surprise when this little fellow landed, literally, at my feet while I was editing away. Unfortunately, he did not stop of his own free will - he flew into a window at the lodge where Mrs B and I were staying at Biyamiti Bushveld Camp, in the Kruger National Park.
And I do mean ouch. For a tiny bird he made an almighty clang as he sped, headlong, straight into the verandah's glassed wall. Mrs Blog came a-running and we rushed to his side. It looked initially, like he was dead on arrival on the tiles.
We knelt down and gently touched him... no movement.
We were heartbroken, LOF. Such a beautiful little bird, and it was a shame that the first time I'd got to see one up close he was, well... dead.
But not so! He raised a tiny wing. We suddenly went into rescue mode.
He opened his little beak, but no sound came out. "He just opened his eyes!" I exclaimed (hence the exclamation mark).
"Not this one," Mrs Blog said. She was looking at the other eye, which remained closed. How, I wondered, if he ever recovered would he fly with one eye? Badly? In zig-zags?
Mrs Blog fetched a clean tea towel, as you do, and we gently scooped Captain Peter "Wrong Way" Peach Fuzz the Pygmy Kingfisher into it (you either get that reference or you do not. This post will be long enough without footnotes).
I'd decided to name him because as we carefully moved Wrong Way to a lounge chair Mrs B informed me that she had heard of people raising injured birds as pets (in fact, now that I think about it, I wrote a book about a guy who did that - called Part of the Pride. The Lion man, Kevin Richardson, started on birds and moved on to lions).
We had some mini visions of Wrong Way accompanying us on our travels in Broomas, perhaps perched atop the camera box or sitting on the dashboard in the tea towel nest that he seemed quite comfortable in.
"This eye's open," Mrs B said.
And so, too, was the one on my side. It's the rainy season now, as I have mentioned, so there were no shortage of bugs around, including many thousands who, like Wrong Way, had sconned themselves on the verandah light the night before. I began scooping these up, so that as Wrong Way regained consciousness we would be able to begin nursing him back to health.
"Beak's opening again," Mrs B said.
Wrong Way sat there for about 15 minutes, lapsing in and out of consciousness. We hovered aorund him, and the maid came, and said, "Shame," before adjourning to sweep up some bugs.
Perhaps it was time for his feeding. With dead grasshopper in hand I knelt by Wrong Way's side and reached out my hand.
And he flew away.
Just like that.
Have a nice day. We did.