Wednesday, 3 December 2014

In the matter of Guinea-fowl

There has recently been a bit of chat on birding-aus about the tickability of Helmeted Guinea-fowl (I'm sure I will have annoyed the hyphen-and-capitalisation police somewhere in that) in Australia.  As I understand it there are a few self-sustaining populations around (eg on Bass Strait Islands) that are considered "real" Australian birds as it is several generations since they escaped.

More recently the COG chatline has been made aware of the terms 'keets' being used to refer to young Guinea-fowl.  This seems to be a new use of the term apparently defined by the Australian National Dictionary Centre which has entries for 'keets' as a short form for 'lorikeets'. In use from the 19thC until the mid-20thC.

All of that caused me to reflect on my dealing with Helmeted Guinea Fowl (ibid) while we were in Tanzania.  They were definitely a wild bird there.  I think this specimen was in the Serengeti NP
Friends of friends wanted some wild 'Fowl to liven up the genome of their domestic strain.  These were located in a shamba (small holding) on the West Kilimanjaro Ranch and we joined our friends on the acquisition expedition.  Money changed hands and the birds were pointed out in some scrub.  The idea was we had to catch them.  Frances chose to take photos rather than join the chase. 
Chasing them at 1700m altitude is very good training! Fortunately the owner's 12 year old daughter was better elevation adjusted than me and the GF were eventually captured.  A comment was made that "the Mzee (Kiswahili for respected elder or "old fart") runs fast" even though I didn't lay finger to feather! 

As we took them away, the one Frances was holding chundered on her!

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