Andrea Corso describes his personal lessons and learnings from the time of isolation at his home in Italy. Read his impressive reportage here.
Bird watching in the time of Covid19 is the balcony of my house. It is a small square of sky, until a few days ago cerulean blue, today leaden. It is that edge of the terrace, up there, at the top, and the balcony in front. It is the window open for the morning air that you breathe grateful for being able to breathe again. Birdwatching in the time of Covid19 is in the small things, in the most intimate details of a few, precious surprises that intertwine that square of sky that you have been looking greedy for days.
It is the whole Spring I am not getting out, being closed for the lockdown from March to May. My beloved parents are also closed at home, they age quickly and fade like daisies without light. My sister and brother isolated. Like my girlfriend, Verena, locked up in 20mq flat in Rome, in a dark house where she sees a small corner of the sky, with her Leica Trinovid HD 10×42, she waits to be able to cross the flight of the first Common Swift. Or at least hear the shrill and fast calls, which escapes between the ledges giving her a spring dream. I hear friends on the phone, they are far apart. I only have two friends with me here, held in my hands: my splendid Leica Noctivid 10×42, and my beautiful Leica APO-Televid 82.
And they are the ones who give me comfort in the darkest hours, which give me the light that I need so much. Through them, my eyes are filled with light and colors. That flower in the garden, all its fragile shades of yellow, the petals and the sepals – it’s as if you could smell it, thanks to the three-dimensionality of the Leica images.
That singing Blackbird, on the dry branch of a tree – I see its black, liquid eye, I see the orange inside of its bill, in the black of its feathers, I read the slightest shades of velvet blue. I have no secrets thanks to my optical instruments, my Leica, in the depths of the surrounding world I enter, as in communion. The Moorish Gecko, like a small Buddha, Zen master of immobility, stands there in the shadow of a cornice, wrinkled and lumpy skin. I walk through its rough skin as if I touched it. And it suddenly moves … runs away … as if it had felt a furtive touch, perhaps my distant gaze.
And the butterfly, a Red Admiral, that jumps dancing between one flower and another. Thanks to the perfection of the optical rendering of my Noctivid binoculars, I see that its colors are already fading, turning from the fresh red-black of the first flicker, to more muted tones of his time that flees, of his existence that blurs and fades already, prematurely. Lazy, the Sicilian Wall Lizard (Podarcis waglerianus) basks in the sun. Precious liquid gem is that soft lemon yellow on the throat, and the small blue specks along the body sides are precious opals as amethyst, zircon, aquamarine.
Only thanks to my trusted Leica friends, I can grasp the secret, I can love every hidden nuance. The sky suddenly lights up with flights of swifts, between them I look for a slightly greyer, more brownish tinge, I look for the Pallid Swift, I have heard its brief, interrupted calls, among the dozens of more prolonged shrill and high-pitched calls of the other common swifts.
Thanks to this little world, outside my window, beyond the balcony, I live. Thanks to my eyes, my Leica, I still feel alive… And I cried, I’m not ashamed to say it, I cried. Not because I won’t know what wonders will pass across Italy in migration, not because nobody will be able to witness the ornithological rarities that will come, or because I will not be able to observe migrations as always, as every year of my whole life, fill myself with flights and spring, crowd my greedy eyes with colors and shapes.
On the contrary, I cried because to the birds, to their very strong wings, to the just arrived spring, to the flowers, to the tides, to the buds of the trees, to the branches that sing in the wind, to the gloomy lizards that bask in the sun, to the larvae of dragonflies, which they strip off their underwater armor, leaving colorless and dry exuvias to fly, splinters of rainbow and metallic eyes – to them, the Covid19 is not a problem at all.
They, the whole nature, continue its perennial cycle with or without us, indifferent to our fears, to our singular and individual desires, to our aspirations, indifferent to our selfishness and arrival, to our petty differences and segregations, to our competitions. They, and all nature, will continue to migrate, blossom, perfume, sing, chirp, transform and transmute … with or without us.
And all of this is beautiful, and all of this made me cry. Of fear, of terror, of solitude, of despair, of smallness, of doubt, and … OF JOY, of certainty that the birds are passing, that they are crossing the skies of the world, and that nature is there, all around us. And still will be there once all of this will be over.