2024 and All That

A lesson from an egret

Bronwen Scott


Eastern Cattle Egret hunched against the wind on the back of a black-faced ram with a scruffy fleece. The ram is baaing about something. Perhaps the bird on his back or maybe he just has some opinions that he wants us to hear.
Everything’s sheep-shape. Eastern Cattle Egret and sheep. © Bronwen Scott

This Eastern Cattle Egret (Bubulcus coromandus) with his fancy summer plumage was faced with a problem. The wind ahead of Tropical Cyclone Jasper made it difficult for him to stay on his favourite perch — the big old steer in the next paddock. The height, short hair and broad back of the beast did not offer a stable surface in the stormy gusts.

So he opted for the next best thing — a lazing ram.

Although a much lower elevation, the sheep still gave the bird a chance to spot prey, while the wool offered a good (and comfortable) grip. Australia might no longer ride on the sheep’s back, but this egret still does.

Now this might look like a compromise or settling for second best. But in the face of adversity, old henna-feathered mate here found an opportunity and took it. The option might not have been as optimal as the previous situation, but it was available. Don’t pine for what you had; enjoy what you have.

And Lundy the steer has no [r]egrets. When I asked his opinion of 2023, this was his response.

A lovely beast with mismatched horns sticking out his tongue for the camera. The sky is blue with a few clouds.
Lundy’s commentary on 2023. © Bronwen Scott.

Same here, fella. Same here.

So from me, the neighbour’s sheep, the other neighbour’s cattle, and the birds that belong to no one but Nature —

— have a safe and contented 2024.



Bronwen Scott

Zoologist, writer, artist, museum fan, enjoying life in the tropical rainforest of Far North Queensland. She/her. Website: bronwenscott.com