6 May 2016

Two willy wagtails are out on the deck, sitting under the cane chair on its crossbar. Seen up close their black and white colouring is so precise, so sharp and stylish. They are tcchhing at each other, sidling closer then away, facing their plump chests at each other then turning. One jumps down to the ground and starts singing, a clear joyful four-note tune that rises quickly and ends still on a happy note. I have heard that song all my life, in suburban backyards and in the bush, but never known who was singing it.

The bird that has stayed on the crossbar starts pecking at a piece of spidersweb hanging from the chair, pulls it off and drops it to the ground. The singing bird keeps singing and strutting, wagging its tail with that distinctive whole-body wagtail wag, and bowing its head. The bird on the chair adds the occasional tcchh. Then the singing bird flies up into the top corner of the deck, where the roof is thick with spiderswebs, and probably the spiders’ larders. The crossbar bird joins the singing bird up in the corner, where they flutter and fall back, flutter and fall back before they fly away, out into the morning sunshine.