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Listening and Watching Water Birds, an Evolution of Repetition

by Susie Ibarra

photos by Jake Landau, Flamingos in Doñana National Park, El Rocio Marshes, Huelva, Andalusia, Spain

There are several theories of the origins of Spanish Flamenco dance. I think often it can be an evolution of several attributes that shape a distance culture. If you find yourself in the natural ecosystems and preserves of Andalusia in Southern Spain, you will hear people distinctly give nod to the Flamingo birds that inspired one of its dances and walks.

Wild Flamingos in the passing are mesmerizing to watch and listen to. Whether they have their heads above, or digging continuously in the water for crustaceans, the constant rhythm of their legs in movement and the group repetition of these migratory birds is undeniable.

Doñana National Park and UNESCO site in Andalusia Spain, with its wetlands, pine forests, sand dunes , aloe Veras, cliffs and lagoons, is an important and beautiful site for massive migratory birds. From the glossy Ibis, to the white storks and their giant nests, families of ducks and ducklings, Spanish eagle, Cranes, Black Stork, greater Flamingos and the distinct European spoonbill. These birds inhabit this wet ecosystem and are accompanied in the pine forests with an array of smaller songbirds. Some have distinctly loud and low calls that startled me when up close.

Having had some time to listen and watch for hours, I walked along the ecosystem and watch giant birds fly and circle the sky such as these white storks. I noticed in my body a repetition that felt very profound. I noticed how we ,as a human species, are constantly throughout generations enamored by the wonder of many of these birds. We repeat their movements, their rhythms , the colors , the dances, the songs and their calls in our own languages. Sure, we are taught this , it seems obvious, we continually see and hear it, but it also continually evolves and changes and stays with us. It never leaves our cultures. Like many species, our traditional culture and our innovative inventions are evolving as a phylogeny of interspecies culture with our continuous appreciation for these birds. We would not have many of the aspects of our human culture without the enormous influence consciously and unconsciously of birds.

What will the evolution of this interspecies culture grow into as the ecosystems are continually becoming more endangered and changing rapidly? What will it sound like?

While it is hard to imagine as it's apparent certain rhythms and traits appear timeless-

-it will change -and evolve.

If due to climate change we won't have these birds in these regions, what will nature bring in play in the regions? In watching and listening to the repetition and rhythms of these birds, I feel grateful to tap into a feeling of connectedness of many generations and centuries of species that walk and fly in these movement patterns and make these continuous rhythms and beautiful songs which they share in so many dialects. In finding a way to speak about climate and our habitats, I am comforted to know there will always be beautiful repetition and rhythm evolving in a culture of interspecies. It is a constant even while we may change so rapidly and drastically. Nature is a maestra of constant change and repetition.

A family of Ducks and Ducklings crossing the water.

White storks nesting on telephone lines.

PRE-ORDER Rhythm in Nature book, a practice guide with Susie Ibarra to discovering rhythm daily in the world of glaciers, freshwater, birdsongs, forests, insects, deserts, canyons and oceans.

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