The silence that I have hitherto enjoyed is suddenly broken by the whirring of an engine. Unbeknownst to me, a mowing boat has crept up on the eastern side of the lake, its exterior already peeling and blotched with rust, the paddle wheels generating ferocious waves. I turn, and I espy first a few birds resting on a huge green nest of weed that is laid on a platform. Out of this group of white-feathered egrets the grey heron stands out, taller than others, black streaks running down its neck. With alacrity I abandon my sunrise-photography assignment, and swap my wide-angle lens for the telephoto one.
The birds watch with rapt attention as the mowing boat is steered away from the platform. When the collecting rake is submerged into water, the birds flap their wings, glide ever so gracefully, at times skimming the water, and come to perch themselves on the rotary arms of the boat. They stand in formation, like stage performers right on their marks. Working in the manner of an excavator, the boat hauls weeds from deep under the water. The operator manoeuvres the harvester, returns to the platforms, and empties the heap of freshly extricated weed on to the existing one.
This choreography repeats: Each time the collecting rake is immersed under the water, the birds flock to it. “A bird’s playground,” I think. It is fascinating to me that birds, free to go wherever they desire, require transport. I relish the opportunity to photograph these birds circling the vast body of water, flaunting their wings and speed.