Saved By The Bird

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Jao Camp's Executive Chef Cindy Swart shares another amusing anecdote from her life in the Okavango…

"It all started a long, long time ago, and I am sure that it is one of those things that everyone has – a complete and utterly irrational fear of something. Mine is and always has been a slightly ridiculous one. I really, really don’t like locusts, or grasshoppers for that matter. But from this fear I now have the utmost respect and appreciation for a rather unlikely character in the Jao cast of birdlife.

Jao's Cindy Swart - Saved by the Bird

It all started when I was walking home one day in the late afternoon, it was a rather warm day and I got distracted by watching a pair of little bee-eaters that were constructing a nest and snacking in between stages of the build. There is not much that is as impressive as the quick turn and dive of any of the bee-eaters as they feed. The strike rate for this pair was quite incredible, they were getting an insect pretty much every time they took to the wing. Then to my horror, one of their dives disturbed a locust. It came straight at me and for some strange reason that, to this day, I do not understand, my body froze, as much as my brain was screaming MOVE!

The locust, obviously a lot more street smart than me, landed on my foot… SO there I stood, frozen in place, the locust quite happy and safe in its chosen shady spot and the bee eaters buzzing around and having their afternoon snack. Now I know that there is not a single thing that this ugly, bumpy, spiky creature can do to my physically, but that, however, does not stop me from being terrified.

I stood there debating how it is possible that I can pick up snakes, can remove spiders, rescue friends from bats… and yet this… thing is holding me captive?

Jao's Cindy Swart - Saved by the Bird

I stared down at the creature trying to work up the courage to shake my foot and make a dash out of its way, when a flash of blue and white came over my shoulder, and landed on my foot, plucked the offending creature off, and was away. Off into a nearby tree, and with characteristic swiftness knocked out and swallowed the spiky, bumpy, jumping creature.

I was rescued by a tiny, bolshie little striped kingfisher, by far not the most famous, nor the most gregarious (woodlands or the pied) or most beautifully coloured (malachite) of the Delta kingfishers. But to me these will forever be my favourites… my tiny striped blue, white and brown knight!"

Photos © Dana Allen

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By Cindy Swart

Cindy is the Executive Chef of Jao Camp in the Okavango. She originally hails from Pietermaritzburg in Kwazulu-Natal in South Africa, but her profession has taken her to the Drakensburg Mountain Range in South Africa, the Savute in Botswana and to Oxfordshire in the UK. With more than a decade of experience in not only the culinary trade, Cindy boasts experience in all aspects of lodge management and has an Outdoor Adventure Instructor qualification to add even more excitement to lodge living. Cindy’s passion for wildlife and cuisine is evident when you are in her company and when served one of her masterpieces. Her particular fondness for birds has often led to Cindy's casual strolls around the lodge resulting in a trail of guests in pursuit. Her outlook on the Delta is refreshing and warm, and is ever apparent in her literary contributions to this blog.

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Comments

David Thompson II  Jul 15, 2015

Nice story. Your guardian angel.