A Fortunate Pheasant

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“I think this is my best side, don’t you..?” Pheasant by Tony Smith, Flickr Creative Commons

Undoubtedly one of the most gorgeous creatures to be found within these isles is the male cock pheasant. For once, the term is not an exaggeration. Should the sunlight catch its iridescent green and indigo head with its pure white ruff or the subtle bronze, grey, blue and vermilion shading of its rather ample body, you will see a bird that would not be out of place in a tropical rain forest. Among the rich reds and golds of an English autumn it is simply splendid. Read more

The Big Hush

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Can you hear me? Willow Warbler by Dave Curtis, Flickr Creative Commons

All Spring the air here has been full of the sound of birdsong. I wish I could tell them apart more easily. I can recognise the quick rhythmic chirr of the house martins and the gentle nibbling calls of the swallows, both of which have had a bumper year so far and whose offspring now weave rich tapestries in the air with their complex swooping flights. Wrens are commonplace, unmistakable in sight and sound, the volume of their song turned up well past eleven. Robins, blackbirds, pigeons, collared doves, all are distinct and memorable. But that lovely rippling warble that has woken me most mornings for the past couple of months? What’s that?  Warble is the appropriate word, but which warbler? Unless one can see the bird that is singing it is hard to link sound with identity.

Birds sing for a variety of reasons, Read more