The Afrikaaners named it Spookvoël, and so it is. Seldom seen even by 'the African rustic' its three mournful, ventriloquial and tremulous whistles, each lasting almost a second: "hoawwww ... hoawwww ... hawwwwip", repeated every minute or so, have been the ornithological highlights, these past two weeks, in our 'wildness garden' on the western edge of little Arusha - the safari city.
This ghostly whistler arrives, at more or less the same time each day, mid-morning. First it calls out to us its version of "trick or treat" from somewhere above the big red gate at the southeast corner of the driveway. Then the spook enters and proceeds to haunt the garden for about an hour moving, virtually unseen, from one Silver Oak to another. Each tree is festooned with wild creepers, a variety of yellow-flowering african cucumbers for the most part, which have sneaked-up this past wet season into the very topmost branches. The sorrowful whistling follows a fairly fixed circuit of the property each day, so an ambush is possible.