Sunday 25 January 2009

Broons, Burns, Birds

On the subject of Robert Burns, whose 250th birthday will no doubt be celebrated tonight with even more excesses of maudlin puffery than usual - I have nothing to say. His poetical appeal I don't think carries much beyond the borders of 'that land of Calvin, oat cakes and sulphur' (as the Rev Sidney Smith so pithily described it). However, the Big One has afforded Gordie Broon the opportunity to ride on the coat-tails of the greasy chancer Alex Salmond into true fame at last. What an amusing fellow he is...
But, as I say, I have no thoughts on Burns. Birds, not Burns, are my subject. They were singing lustily this morning, after a night of rain had thoroughly sodden the ground. The days are at last noticeably, if only slightly, lengthening, and the usual suspects - robins, great tits, goldfinches chiefly - were celebrating the fact with full-throated vocals as I made my way across the park to the station. Coming down to the river, I first saw the resident heron, in his usual dejected posture in midstream, and then, a little down river - something white... What? Yes, it was a Little Egret - last seen in my vicinity some time last year (and memorialised on Thought Experiments in a post that inspired one of Ian Russell's finest sallies). Now here was an egret again, as snowily beautiful as ever, but seeming smaller for having the heron so close - and looking very much as if it was considering taking up residence. I hope it does - it won't egret it.


  1. For the average English person living in the land of the battered Mars Bar Burns night (the majority of Scots will have been in their cups last night) is akin to the canine approach to Bonfire night, best spent under the bed, It is yet another excuse for a booze up and thanks to Messrs Tesco et al you can have as many as your constitution will stand.
    Held up as a national hero by some, ignored by the majority, unless in discussion with an English person questioning his place in the scheme of things when tartan hackles tend to rise. At best a folksy poet and shagger of some repute, a customs man who could nudge & wink.
    Passing over Salmond, although pissing over him would be more appropriate, and onto birds, I've never seen a Little Egret Nige.
    The long tailed tit population has increased lately, as have the buzzards but over the last two months the greenfinches have vanished, we have finally won the battle of the grey squirrels, only reds in the garden now competing with the woodpeckers for nuts.

  2. Ah that's excellent news on the squirrels Malty (have you heard about the black ones, said to be sweeping away the grey in some southern parts, tho I've yet to see one?) - and on the longtails and buzzards. I wonder if the greenfinches have headed south - my garden's been full of them this winter, and many more chaffinches than usual. All welcome - and the (grey) squirrels seem finally defeated by my latest bird-feeder.

  3. Which reminds me of the British culinary approach to the grey squirrel problem: 'Saving a Squirrel by Eating One'.

  4. I'm looking forward to trying one Dave, if I get the chance...