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  • Writer's pictureLiz Charpleix


It’s been said that youth is wasted on the young. This (mis)quote leaps to mind as I watch, over the course of a sunny spring-end day, the antics of two Welcome swallow fledglings:

These surprisingly aerodynamic balls of fluff practise their apparently innate flying skills in a high, wide circle, each with a parent leading the way.

Youth is awkward and perilous, actually. While their parents roam free and far, the two fluffy blobs huddle together, drawing courage from company.

A cold wind blows down the hillside, with no protecting parents in sight. Bright yellow maws provide a clear target for the parental worm-drop as the fledglings rest on a compost bin lid awaiting the return of their parents.Every so often, one or other waves a hopefully gaping gob skyward (whence all worms come). Nothing. They have each other, but even in the bulk of friendship, they would make less than one gulp for a passing wedge-tailed eagle. Luckily, wedgies rarely come this close to the house.

Meanwhile, in my bathroom my latest brushtail joey charge gathers confidence in his new quarters, a cocky cage tastily furnished with tree branches and leptospermum blossoms, a dowel perch and a warm pouch securely clipped to the bars of the cage. It’s not quite what a brushy mummy would provide, but human-provided milk, banana and blueberry treats, plus a daily walk through the bush, perched on his human’s shoulder, help to soften the pain of orphanhood.

Youth is fragile, dependent and so full of bravery and beauty.

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