Regular followers of my blog (by now there must be five or six of you) know that Heiwa Koen park is along my commute to school, and that I like to stop there to have a look around when I can find the time. I enjoy observing the signs of seasonal change within the park--the sakura and other flowering trees in spring, the vivid colors of the turning leaves in fall, the occasional blanket of snow in winter--but the year-round constant are the birds, especially the crows and sparrows, which I have photographed at various times throughout the year. Last week, I decided to stop off in the park for the fist time since July. I had along my 200mm lens, figuring the extra reach might come in handy if the crows were acting up. But, this morning, the crows were not at their regular haunts, nothing much was in bloom, and the pre-dawn light was not particularly interesting. Sometimes its like that. On those days, you just put away your camera and try again another time. So, I was walking back to my bicycle when I saw a flash of yellow flitting between the trees. It's not a color I'm used to seeing at Heiwa Koen, so it caught my attention. I turned my zoom on it to get a better look.
It was a parakeet (likely somebody's escaped pet) and it was flying amongst a host of sparrows. I hadn't noticed the sparrows at first because of their duller coloring. I was curious about this unlikely pairing, so I followed them as they flew from tree to gravestone to tree again. The sparrows seemed rather indifferent to the parakeet, but the parakeet was determined to stay near them. The sparrows would suddenly take flight as a group, and move to the next spot, but the parakeet always took a bit longer to react. It would look up from its grooming and foraging to see that the sparrows were on the move, and then would quickly take flight to join them. When the sparrows resettled, the parakeet resettled near them, in proximity to the group, yet somehow also separate from it.
As I followed the birds around the park, the sun finally cleared the nearby crest, casting brilliant back-light over the scene. I took some silhouettes of the sparrows clustered on gravestones, their diminutive forms delineated by rim light.
The parakeet, meanwhile, was nearby as always.
As the warm rays from the sun crept lower among the gravestones, the scene grew photographically more interesting, but I was running out of time. I got in a few more quick snaps before getting on my bike and riding the rest of the way to school.
I felt a mix of hope and sadness, watching the parakeet follow the sparrows around. I wondered if this makeshift family would stick and if being part of a group would help protect the conspicuously colored parakeet from larger predators. I've been too busy to get back to that area to see if it is still around, but once I do, I'll post an update here.