The Inward Eye

In 1802, William Wordsworth wrote a poem about the experience of coming across a mass of yellow daffodils on a walk in the Lake District in England. The genius of the poem comes towards the end:

I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
what wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.”

Some 220 years later we may record such events with a mobile phone or a DSLR, but nature still has the power to leave us with indelible memories on which to reflect.

A few months ago I visited a drying lake where I’d seen some Masked Lapwings on a previous visit. When I arrived I noticed quite a large flock of Red-necked Avocets in the distance. I unrolled my foam-rubber mat and lay prone near the water’s edge in the hope that some birds might come closer. As chance would have it a Swamp Harrier flew over and the alarmed avocets took to flight. I lay with my face down on the mat to avoid eye contact with the birds, as I lay motionless, they flew low, right over the top of me. The deep sound of their beating wings was powerful and mesmerising, I had not expected it to be so loud, but could hear the rhythmic beating of birds close by and also the deep hum of more distant birds. The sound almost seemed to echo off the ground and back from the birds. It gave me an insight in to what it might be like to feel part of a flock united in a sense of purpose and drawing strength from being surrounded by the sound of other beating wings.

As I slowly raised my head I realised, that magically they had landed right in front of me. They were a beautiful sight in the morning sun with their long, delicate up-turned bill and a russet head and neck; I got some photos and a new appreciation of these birds. To top it all, even the Masked Lapwings turned-up a little later.

It certainly was a “daffodil moment”. If we give Nature a chance, it can still leave us in awe; whether it is seeing your first honey possum, finding a whole array of fish or soft corals whilst snorkelling, coming across a vista of karri trees, finding a mass of wildflowers or a granite outcrop covered in native orchids or simply discovering a new frog or lizard in the garden.

Red-necked Avocets in the Morning Sun
Masked Lapwings
Red-necked Avocets (with two interlopers!)