Sunday, 5 June 2011

A Bird in the Bush is Worth........


Hullo ma wee blog,

There are at least thirty sparrows in the flock that sweeps down to litter the driveway at the front of the house this morning, cheeping and jostling for position as they enjoy a dust bath. When fright takes them they leap into the air together and disappear in a whirr of wings into the safety of the hedge a few feet away simply to return to their dusty squabbles a few seconds later. A solitary blackbird is one of the bathers, large and plump by comparison as she goes about her morning ablutions with feathers puffed, short beats of spread wings against the ground. Two or three jackdaws strut self importantly beneath the old pear tree pleased, even though they are too large to cling to the feeder full of seed hanging from its low branch,  to have mastered the secret of the upward lunge with its solid thump to release a tiny spew of beady treasures to be jumped on by those waiting just below.

As I sit at the kitchen table tapping this post I'm joined by a tapping from the window by the sink. Without looking I know its the male blackbird, his unique sound signature made by raking his beautiful yellow beak through the seeds on the window tray followed by a stiff legged double hop to settle those most wanted in a layer at the top to be gathered with an eager series of short pecks. The pattern will be repeated again and again until he is stuffed full of seed or scared off by something inconsequential.  I know the crafty beggar is a flighty character and will be watching me with a glittering eye, ready to take flight at the first sign of my interest. Only once or twice in the last months have we contemplated each other through the glass from close up for a careful moment before he's indignantly fled. I suspect I was more impressed with his looks than he with mine.

Through the still unopened vertical blind to my left I hear the birds in the back garden; the gruff caw of a jackdaw; the quiet cheep-cheep of a group of chaffinches and the tinkling bell-like notes of a pair of pigeons coming in to land. I hear the sound of wings at the low table where the enameled ashet* of water sits gleaming white and rimmed with blue. The water will be cold from the night's chill and I find myself wondering if it's appreciated as a refreshing early prize when it's so cold.  Now though it's time for me to finish blogging  and take the tub of seed from the corner behind me out to the garden.

There are hungry mouths to be fed.

*Ashet is an oddly Scottish word for a dish and comes from the days of the Auld Alliance  when France was both a military ally and  main commercial trading partner. Ashet is the Scots phonetic rendering of the French  assiette. For the same reason a leg of lamb is a gigot, but pronounced by Scots with a hard 'g' at the beginning as opposed to the softly accented 'gigot' of modern French

See you later.

Listening to

11 comments:

The Gaelic Wife said...

There may be hungry mouths to be fed. But some of us with hungry minds enjoy the poetry you expose us to. And your corner of the world.

dbs said...

Watch out for robins. Here in Canada...they're evil.

Alistair said...

Thank you Gaelic wife for those kind words. Much appreciated.

dbs - I find them such engaging wee characters though.

Windsmoke. said...

It's so good to hear that the wildlife in Scotland is alive and well just like down here in Australia :-).

Alistair said...

Windsmoke - glad to hear it too. I might be making a rod for my back feeding them so much. There are double buzzing around here than there were a couple of years ago.

Thanks for dropping in and leaving a comment....

TwistedScottishBastard said...

Hi Alistair, another very evocative post. I can almost hear the feathered little buggers snapping up the seeds (and probably crapping on the paving)I thought that NZ would be full of bird life, but while there are many new varieties, the avian population density is low compared to Scotland.
We do have lovely Tui though. They're about the size of a fully-grown Thrush and have a white patch of feathers at their neck over their glossy black and brown plumage. They make the most gorgeous birdsong, but I sometimes miss the friendly and seemingly intelligent Blackbirds we used to have in our garden in Fife.

Alistair said...

I do like the blackies TSB - beautiful in their plain coat especially the male in that puritanical black.......

Scottish Nature Boy said...

Hi Al - I posted a comment a couple of days ago but my google account seems incompatible with Internet Explorer 8 and so my comments are coming out as "anonymous" and, dammit, "I have a voice"! I've switched to firefox and everything is working properly - hoorah! Anyway, I loved your post (as you knew I would - birds!). There's a new UK Breeding Birds Atlas in preparation and I've been submitting some records to help. So, lovely to have a different perspective on why birds are important to people. Incidentally, my Ayrshire family uses the old Scots word "speug" for sparrows, and Dad says the blackbird used to be called "meryl" and the song thrush "mavis"! Burns used old Scots names for some birds too - check out the poem/song "Now Westlin Winds" for the cushet (wood pigeon) and others! Cheers, SNB

Alistair said...

Hullo SNB - nice to hear you have your 'voice' back. As you know I was brought up 'in Ayrshire' {My wife thinks I live 'inertia' still} and I use those words for birds and others; a 'whaup' is a curlew; a 'yellie - yite' is a yellowhammer; a 'stukkie' is a starling; a wren is a Jennie and 'doo' is a racing pigeon. {as in "my wife's pigeon chested - that's why I love her like a doo!}

All good pun!

Rebecca S. said...

I'm finally here to read your bird post, and a lovely one at that. I appreciated your comments on my bird post about the collared doves and do realize that some of these introduced species become invasive. We have some non-native squirrels here that have completely taken over the nut trees, whereas the original species knew to share (or be shot by my neighbour).

Alistair said...

glad you liked it Rebecca - you gave me a smile today when I saw 5 comments listed. I knew it would be you even before I opened them.

Thanks so much - as usual!

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