Tuesday, September 4, 2007


Out of the corner of my eye I catch movement over the river. A raptor is fluttering. Hunting. Watching. Then suddenly it dives - swoosh! - and - splash! The kite rises back into the air clutching a fish in its talons. The kites may have abandoned their nest and been away for the past two weeks but today they are back, gliding along the river valley, swooping back and forth between the high branches of the eucalypts, then stopping to scrutinise the river below. I stop to watch their flight and feel a sense of relief.

A couple of weeks ago I couldn't watch what was taking place. As one kite sat on the nest, the other tried to ward off a gang of ravens and currawongs. About 20 birds were in the air, seemingly tomenting the kites with a sense of ruthlessness. One after the other the kites would rise up and try to chase these sky marauders away. Over and over again they took turns to chase away the birds and it seemed that, at least on this occasion, they were successful. But I could not stay all day to see what happened. Not long after this the kites disappeared. But today my heart soared.

It's been raining; the river is tidally high today and the fish are running. The kites know. It's a special moment.

The rain has brought more than the kites. There is wind in the air. A cool breeze which, for this river city, is unusual but when it comes, it's very refreshing. Just like the rain. And the smell of the sea. The tides have also brought the aroma of saltwater. It flushes round the mangrove roots and I can taste the salty air.

This small wild place is precious. The ecosystem is fragile in the midst of the city's vast development. But today I push the sound of the bulldozers and chainsaws out of sight and relish in the possibility that even in this fast-paced, vehicle worshipping, rapidly growing, tree-destructive city, such tiny pockets of the wild are sacred. The kites know.