Thursday, 5 September 2013

A Bird for all Seasons

I heard it first this season, last Thursday morning, the unmistakeable sad sweet little song of an Autumn robin.

This is not the first time I've written about this particular harbinger of a new season.  Yes, I know I could have said omen, but I prefer harbinger.

Many birds change their songs as the season advances, but the totally different plaintive notes of the robin are so unlike the chirpy Spring song that they always strike me with a sense of melancholy, a sort of warning of things to come.

Since the Christmas card Winter robin is such a familiar sight we tend to forget that for these little birds it is not such a jolly season,but one where they are going to have to fight for survival.

They are well equipped to fight for their share of whatever is on offer, quarrelsome, argumentative, territorial little souls, but none the less, very small and to us at least, very appealing.

This morning, thick mist covering everything, but the promise of hot sun later, I heard it again.  Sorrowful, descending notes all but drowned out by the "football rattle" clack of a massive magpie, yet still discernible
and this time, accompanied by a sighting.   One very round very red-breasted bird and one equally round but much smaller and more speckled one with just a hint of 'tomato soup' colour on its breast.

Parent and child then.

My 'oh so poetic' musings were brought to an abrupt halt, by the appearance of three of the local cats, as fine a band of desperados as  you ever did see, stalking the little family.

I flung open the window, clapped my hands and suddenly the garden was empty.

Sans cats, sans robins, sans magpie.

My good deed for the day.   Do not expect another.


  1. I do miss robins down here in New Zealand. There is a native black robin but, as far as I know, that is just in the South Island - not up here anyway.

    1. It's a pity there are no redbreast robins in NZ, but I imagine there must be some beauties that we never see here to compensate.

  2. But that one good deed sufficed, Ray. I love robins too, though can't hear their song very clearly nowadays. Hopefully this year's prolific fruit harvest will help them go into the winter as well-fed as possible.

    1. Amazing what a loud handclap can do in an emergency.
      It has been used to get rid of a badger in the past.

      I think in really lean times robins will eat most things, but I feed dried mealworms with other birdseed and they are very popular.
      With a bit of luck we may have a fairly soft Winter.

  3. I must listen more carefully in future. We have a lot here plus the really tiny wren, all diving in and out of the Cornish hedge...I've never really noticed their songs!

  4. Odd you should mention the wren Jean. For its size it has probably the loudest song of all. Such a surprise to hear so much noise from such a tiny source.
    I suspect you really have very little spare time for bird song in your hectic life, but if you can spare some it really is worth the effort.