Monday, December 31, 2012

On Shakespeare and birds!

In advance of  "the big day" tomorrow, a slightly irreverent look at the Bard and his birds!!

Was Shakespeare a birder?  Well, I suppose not in the accepted sense ,  but he certainly quoted birds more than any other poet in the west.  Various authorities have teased out up to 64 different species being mentioned on at least 606 occasions. Some bird names are very general  (duck, bunting, gull ) but others are far more specific  (Chough, Wry-neck'd or Estridge, which was a name for Goshawk ). All in all, and despite the best efforts of acclaimed authors like Sir Archibald Geike and Caroline Spurgeon, I sense the Bard was a keen observer of birds and nature, but little more.

So , was he a "lister"?  Well it would be easy to infer that he was at least in sympathy with the practice, if not indulging in the action that will launch itself in another maelstrom of annual activity tomorrow! The best evidence for this is within the following notable words.....

I [see you ] stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start
The game's afoot!

Henry the Fifth, Act Three, Scene one.

Certainly they sum up my mental state and preparations and I rather guess many other birders in the UK and elsewhere. To all, have a great 2013 with lots of memorable birding experiences.

Footnote;  there again, looking at those words above, they could represent a mantra muttered by all referees at the start of a football game..............or even the crowds outside awaiting the Boxing Day sales. Perhaps he wasn't in tune with our great pursuit after all!!!