The past weekend was a birthday bonanza – I turned the ripe old age of 26 (*melts in to melancholy heap*) on the Friday, and Mum turned *cough* on the Saturday (suffice to say it was a significant one). Which meant a lot of family time (Little Sis was even around for some of it) and way too much food (my diet doesn’t understand why it’s been so neglected and is sulking). And it also meant day trips!
Saturday we went to the Hawk Conservancy – a small Trust near Andover in Hampshire – and spent the day sauntering around peering at birds of prey and watching flying displays (a vulture swooping 2 inches above your head is pretty impressive). Of course, my favourites were the owls (Major Lewis the Burrowing Owl was top of the list), but I never fail to be amazed by the birds of prey they have there, and it’s quite something to have a Peregrine Falcon going into a 2oo-mile-an-hour* stoop before your very eyes.
Then, and then, there was the Brahminy Kite [pictured above]
We have a family of Red Kites nesting near our house, so I’m no stranger to these fork-tailed birds. But it was the story that goes with the Brahminy Kite that really caught my attention.
These birds are fairly “common” (i.e. not on the brink of extinction like many other birds of prey at the Trust) in their natural habitat – the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia and Australia – and are otherwise known as Red-backed Sea-eagles (interesting fact for you – many fishing birds of prey will have white heads as it breaks up their silhouette and disguises them from fish coming to the surface).
The name “Brahminy” comes from their mythological status as fire-birds. It’s considered bad luck to have a Brahminy Kite sitting on your house, as it is said that your house will burn down if this happens, and the word “Brahminy” comes from the God, Brahma. This is where the connection gets shaky, because it’s said that they are named after the god of fire, who, on further inspection is Agni and not Brahma (who is god of creation).
But, nonetheless, this fired (sorry) my imagination.
I had a dream the other night that involved people whose magic was tied to the elements (not original, I know) and that they had identifying marks on their palms. But what if, in yet another slightly unoriginal manner, they had familiars (more like witch familiars than Pullman’s daemons, but you get the drift)?
What if, one of my characters was a slightly odd “Bird Lady” whose magic was tied to – yep, you guessed it – fire? Wouldn’t it be great to have a Brahminy Kite as a familiar!?
I have a very clear image of my Bird Lady, and I’m rather intrigued by her. Even though my zombie-fest WIP has stalled a bit, what’s to say I can’t give this story a go? I’m only imagining a short story after all…
So from a day trip to witch familiars, the inspiration part of my brain has done some wonderful adding up and got to: crazy bird lady.
Well… I didn’t say it was brilliant.
Does inspiration hit you at strange moments?
What’s the strangest place/thing that has inspired you?
*The fastest animal on the planet, the Peregrine Falcon has actually been recorded going 200 miles an hour when in a stoop (the fast dive to catch prey) – that is not an exaggeration!