|VillageWeaver, St. Lucia, South Africa|
Shari, having spent two more weeks in South Africa than I, and who is willing to go to sea to see birds, has a much longer life list than me and I am resigned to never catching up to her. I have 1079 species on the life list. Sometimes, when I look at my bookshelves, I'll see a book that I know I've read, and yet, I can't remember a thing about that book--plot, point, style, whether I liked it or not--nothing. When I open it I may a well be looking at it for the first time; when I read it, nothing comes back to me, it is a new book. And it could be a book a read 20 years ago or a book I read last year.
When I look at my life list, much the same happens. I know I've seen, for instance, La Sagra's Flycatcher 11 1/2 years ago, but I have no memory of the bird, or the sighting. If I ever seen one again, it will be, essentially, a life bird all over again. I know I've seen Burnt-neck Eremonela just a few months ago but I couldn't identify the bird right now if it was sitting on my monitor. I'll probably never see one again. At least my books are right here (much to Shari's chagrin; she thinks they just take up wall space) and I can re-read them when I want. (Nabokov says you can never read a book anyway; you can only re-read it.) But many species on my list must be categorized as momentary pleasures. A sighting, a tick on the day list, a smile, and then it's gone.
I'm starting to see the advantage of taking pictures--not as an aesthetic pursuit, but as an aid to memory. There are all kinds of weaver species in South Africa. I couldn't pretend to keep them straight. But at least I have a picture of a Village Weaver. As well as a
|Cape Weaver, Wakkerstroom|
|Grosbeak Weaver, St. Lucia|
Southern Brown-throated Weaver, St. Lucia