Interactions between birds and Man are not news to many of you. My mother’s favourite sight is a tractor being followed by gulls as it ploughs the autumn fields. She even asked me to draw her such a scene as a birthday present (you must understand that she is a very indulgent parent and was apparently delighted with this 8-year-old’s efforts).
Art has since been abandoned, but the memory abides of birds taking advantage of Man’s labours and the pleasure to be found as they become very approachable into the bargain. Oh, to be that tractor driver! The memory was triggered recently by a weed catcher on Laguna de los Copios in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
La laguna is troubled by floating weed. Two paddle-powered weed collectors work full time to mitigate the profusion of surface growth and are accompanied by birds who feed from the insects disturbed as the tractors plough up and down through the weeds.
Young Wattled Jacanas chase about using their long toes to navigate across the broken mats (does anyone else see a resemblance to Montgomery Burns?).
A Cattle Tyrant rode shotgun on the collecting bucket, leaping down into the scoop when it spied something to eat.
A Spectacled Tyrant was slightly more wary and perched on reeds nearby until the tractor passed and then dropped down onto the weeds to see what had been flushed out.
When the scoop was full, the water tractor paddled off to dump its load on an increasingly large pile. Waiting at the top of the soggy mound was a pair of King Wood Rail, one of which could barely be bothered enough to take a sideways step as the bucket was upended onto the heap.
Oh, to be that weed scooping paddle-tractor driver!