Monday, 7 May 2012


I remember, when I came home from a decade abroad, standing by a strip of scrub sobbing at the song of a willow warbler. There were many more things in my mind that day but the channel for my tears was the lovely liquid languor of a bird.

I find as I grow older that old nature, known since childhood, moves me more and more. Spring birds are an easy metaphor for new starts, new hope, but a true one nonetheless.

This morning, after a long weekend with little sleep, and under the first blue-pierced sky in days and days, I was fit to be moved. As I walked along the riverbank a cuckoo sang, then flew to land in a seed-setting willow, barred and beautiful, continent-crossing, spring in a puffed-out throat. A second cuckoo began to sing, a major third higher in pitch than his relative, a huge difference in musically conservative cuckoo-kind: a Benjamin Britten or an Olivier Messiaen among cuckoos. I hope they would both approve.

Today spring thundered into being along my river. The songs of garden warblers tumbled from the willows and loud thrushes piped. As I walked back a long-tailed tit chick, minutes from the nest, whirred to a strand of briar a metre from my face and quivered there a moment in an agony of what-to-do. This little being cares nothing for who I am or where I’m bound but I care so much for him I sob.

I am a fool I know. I know no other way to be.

As for conforming outwardly, and living your own life inwardly, I do not think much of that.

Henry David Thoreau
The Bluebird Carries the Sky on his Back

New this morning


common cuckoo
Cuculus canorus

2012 Totals
Mammals: 56
Birds: 457
Reptiles: 12
Amphibians: 6
Fish: 3

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