It is one of our favourite birds of the African wilderness, as I’m sure it is yours. It was one of the first birds my little twitchers laid their little binocular eyes on and the love affair has blossomed with each visit to the bush. The lilac-breasted roller is not only one of the most beautiful creatures you will glimpse on safari – with its multitude of colours, the soft pink and the light and darker, deeper blues, it is also rather wise. This characteristic has often been overlooked, but I beg you to give this little winged guru another look. Here are seven lessons it has taught us – in just one sighting, out in the beautiful Kalahari in Botswana…
1. Don’t be afraid to shake things up from time to time, to try something new. Routine is really useful, but don’t forget the wild spontaneous spirit of your heart.
2. There is a time for play and work, after all, a roller has to eat. But be sure to make time for stillness, for sitting in the fresh outdoor air and letting the sun’s rays wash over you.
3. Know when to take a bow and accept compliments even if they feel uncomfortable.
4. It’s okay to look back, at things past and at how far you’ve come. It’s good, essential even, to remember the work, the dedication, the highs and lows, the love and support. But don’t get stuck in the past. After all, rollers don’t fly backwards.
5. Hold on tight to the important things – your values, your family, your dreams. And hope, baby, hope.
6. Look people in the eye, give them the time of day, whether family, friends or eager birdwatchers ogling you from their game vehicle. But remember: there will be birdwatchers who might require a “smile and wave”.
7. And fly, my sons, fly! Explore and see the world, get a good look from all angles, bird’s eye view or a low angle perch. Just see it! And have a ball doing it.