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!!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Twelve days of Christmas!

Well, I have to say that, after all the trauma of the last few weeks, and the many months of frustration preceding that,  I'm now declared "whole" and I'm "ready to roll." Recent and final discharge decisions by the hospital and optician mean I can now begin to get back to normal after what has seemed to be a long drawn out period, within which time I dutifully followed all requirements, even to the extent of driving minimally!

I'm reminded of the carol, "the Twelve Days of Christmas", given that is now the period that remains until the New Year of 2013 commences. Including Christmas itself, I seem to have something that now needs to be completed or sorted out, and which will eat up each of the days remaining, before a more relaxing approach to birding can be taken. Some of this thankfully involves birding in the sense of being an attempt to catch up with outstanding survey work , be it Winter Thrushes surveys or WeBS/Low Tide Counts.

Plans are already in hand for January and I have to say, without wishing the time away, that I'm really looking forward to getting to the New Year.  As I write this it's lashing it down outside and the strong overnight south easterly winds have very gradually begun to subside (very gradually! ) Some ferries have been cancelled and the prediction for the weekend is a little more of the same, which will add even more intensity to the sense of anticipation! God forbid it should be bad weather on the 1st January when year lists can begin !, just an over-healthy attention to getting involved again with the best hobby in the world!