Monday, 15 February 2016

Moholoholo Monday Mandela

What follows is a legend, like so many of note from the vast continent of Africa. It is rumoured to be a continent bigger than Europe, bigger than America and although possibly not as big as Asia, it is generally considered to be the second biggest continent on Earth... by just about everyone.

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin. 

The Ticklish Tale
of a Talented Bird

Now bunch up boys and girls and listen closely for we are about to introduce to you... with a fantastically fabulous fanfare and rather special appearance of an exceptionally excitingly energetically example of eaglet elegance!

Oh dear, it's flown away in a but feathery flap because you were quiet enough. Oh no! It's flown high to keep it's eagle eye on us! Oh phew, lucky you it took flight for now we have another delight.

Yes, it will thrill us, Philys, and yes it gots finery, Fi.

Yes it's for a big bill, Phil and yes it's a birdie, Fergie.

Yes, it a big bird, Fred, Yes, it could easily tear off you head.

Yes it can fly. Most birds can, Ferdinan.

No it's feet aren't wet and rank, Frank.

No it's not flown here from Iona, Fiona.

Now settle down or it'll fly away too and that will be the end of tales today for you!

What is the quietest fanfare noise you could think of so as not to scare this flighty feat of feathered engineering off? Think in whispers please, not out loud. Oh my what fingers and thumbs you have for brains. No, no, not even a toot or a hoot is the noise we make. Silence and awe, I've told you before. Feast with your eyes and and admire and adore. I very quietly but proudly present to you... listen up tightly now for I fear I can only say it once... The ever forever absurdity birditty...

AfwiwengaFoofyfwonbanofufifootiefloppatutufootle-fontamefannoflambefwambo-flapsieflopsiellttofittlefu-floozzaffossoflimbodoodo-fwaringlewonklebyginkotongle-ethypociwithyfondledoc-furdifandiforbinshantifingalfloopmcfittytwot the fourth, but everyone calls him anything they like really but most polite is Fffufty.

Yes, it's an eagle, Feegal!

It is an African eagle and instead of a golden or bald or white or brown head upon it's ruffly neck it has a black head of freely flowing feathers.

What is it now, Fay? Black head is another name for zits. Yes, you really shouldn't sit next to Fred, should you? Fred... sit at the front so no one can see you what you're plotting before I do. Thank you.

Oh but look, Fffufty is glaring at you all now for sniggering at him and trying to decide which of you to tear to pieces for his mid morning snack. He seems to have his eye on you Fred. Hmmmm. That's better, class. Now, where was I? Oh yes...

Fffufty is in fact a Betaleur eagle and they are rather special. Note the speckling on it's wing feathers and colourful beak with it's sinister simitar scything sharply curving point? Looks like it would be brilliant at opening a tinned can of beans or worms doesn't it, children?

It would be hopeless at it though, isn't that right Fffufty? Yes.

We've met before at a circus you see. He wasn't meant to perform but flew in, to the rescue, when one of the acts sprained their ankle. So there's a clue for you. What do you suppose the Betaleur eagle is good at that a human would be rubbish at with a sprained ankle?

No, not clowning around.

No, not horse riding.

Not jumping through hoops though you are getting warmer with that guess.

No, not fire eating!

Juggling doesn't require you to use your feet, at least not usually although I have seen folk juggle with their heads often enough.

Ssssh, keep the noise down, Fffufty's watching you and look how your noise flustered his feathery ruff round his neck and led to his wings a flapping.

When he flies you won't have time to run and most likely wouldn't hear him coming at you with all your tongues flapping. So on the flapping side of things, he wins every time as most eagles do. This is why you find them on a lot of emblems on coins and flags too. Curious thing to ask the history teacher about that. Some nations have just stripes, others symbols of peace and others scary birds and beasts. I've never seen on with a good rendering of an insect on though. Yes... DO ask the history teacher about that, won't you everyone?

No, he hasn't upset me more than yesterday or the day before. Thank you. To continue...

Eagles are famous for being fierce and efficient at it, which means they are energy saving creatures and many starve long before they reach the age of one in times when food is scarce.

Now have you given up guessing what circus act he can perform rather well? Thought so. Now I'll not tell, but with my very thick glove on if you are all quiet I'll see if he will fly to my hand and then see if he will perform it once again especially for you.

Oooo, yes. Isn't he a sight to behold. His fabulous white under feathers, and red feet. Fabulous coloured feathers all very neat. Yes, that's right Fffufty. He is particularly rare as even Betaleur Eagles go for who has ever come across another bird of prey that lets you stroke it behind the ears and coo when you do so. See? Is that nice? Awwww Fffufty, love. Later dear... remember we're here to give a demonstration to this class of how beautiful and powerful you are. Hmm. That's better. Yes, I do have caught rabbit for your lunch. I suppose the history teacher didn't mean to run it over when it escaped from the science lab. Honestly boys and girls I sometimes think I am the only teacher who knows how to teach and keep their equipment in good order, some days.

Oh dear, there's the bell for morning break. How time flies. Well, class I suppose you want to hurry off as usual then. Oh you don't? Oh well then, prepare for blood and gore as Fffufty has his breakfast, snack, lunch and dinner. This should keep him looking just as magnificent as ever for a bit, so long as the history teacher doesn't see you. It's a pity I haven't taught you how to pierce man made things really like car tyres. Well, here you are then.

See how he hops and snips and rips. See how he plays with his food like you Fiona, but at least he eats it all when he can get it. It'll be a while before he'll eat it though, I can tell. Oh bravo Fffufty that was a brilliant throw. No point in telling him that it is definitely dead already. He likes to check that for himself for quite a while when he feels safe and has eaten recently. I do like his 1970s trousers, you know, and have you noticed his economy size tail feathers. Economy size for an eagle that is. It's why he can bob about of course, isn't it Ffffufty-wufty the fourth.

Doesn't matter what I say to him at the moment. Now he has his food, though he will look around he'll only focus on that. He's just checking I'm not notifying him of any dangers coming his way like the history teacher. No, you're fine Ffffufty. He wouldn't dare come this way now the class have told him where I am and who with. Oh... you're still here. Class dismiss I said. What's that?

What did he do at the circus? Oh... that. Yes well it was hardly likely to be the ring master, the musical entertainment, the lion tamer or the trapeze artist was it? Escapologist? Nice one, I wish - but no. Think again. He's agile with his feet but delicate with it too.

Why Fergie, the sun must have effected you ability to think at last. Correct. Betaleur eagles are also referred to sometimes as the tightrope eagles. It has nothing whatever to do with circus acts though. They're just very good at knotting ropes to hang lazy children with, is all. Oh dear. There's the bell for your history class. Bad luck. I have marking to do now. Come to my classes promptly next time will you? Off you go now, unless you want to dawdle with Fffufty and me and tarry a while...

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