Friday, 14 January 2011

Birds Eye View

Having a quiet, reflective (shorthand for bone-idle) morning, coffee jug filling up nicely, I was startled by the extra loud racket of a skein of geese flying in red -arrows like formation, the leader calling and the rest answering.  They could have been whooper swans not sure, but it occurred to me what a truly awful world it would be without birds.
I am interested in birds and for the past ten years have been a member of the British Trust for Ornithology Garden Birdwatch scheme.  This entails a daily count of the maximum no of any one species seen at one time, this then goes onto their weekly and finally, quarterly count forms.
It sounds time-consuming but in fact, becomes so routine that I never pass a window without looking out to see what visitors are resting, feeding or drinking at that time.
Over the years I have had some rare sightings and many birds which are not commonly regarded as garden birds are regular visitors because they know there is always a choice of food on offer.
Today I have 4 reed buntings (dear little things, with black - male - brown - female faces), they are sparrow-sized and have white moustaches, familiar to me now but often the cause of surprised comment from human visitors.
In the days (several centuries ago) when I was a member of CND, we used to end our march in Trafalgar Square where we would sing "The Hiroshima Song".  This included the line " No birds fly in the leaden sky"
and for me invoked far clearer images than all the mushroom cloud, landscape destroying and sickness spreading films which accompanied our campaign.
Whatever kind of world would it be without one of the loveliest of God's creatures.  I hope and pray we never find out.


  1. Hasty addition to above post, and many hours later, just took my last, pre-blind drawing look up the garden and saw, not one or two, but six long-tailed tits on the feed ball container. They were jockeying for position, their tiny bodies and enormously long tails in constant motion, a truly lovely and endearing sight. Sorry, I really am a true bird-nerd!

  2. During the recent cold weeks we have been astounded at the number of birds who appear for the ritual of the filling of the marigold hearts feeder. Sometimes there have been around 60 birds all squabbling and chattering, but hopefully being helped to survive by all those who feed them in gardens in the village. I can't imagine life without them either.