Monday, August 22, 2005

No phoenixes here

Tim Dee reviews Birds Britannica:

My own rough survey...has show three times as many new poems on blackbirds as on the Iraq war and 9/11..."

"...a robin that managed to make its nest in an unmade bed while its owner had breakfast; the highly territorial red grouse that forced a postman off his bike every day in Tomintoul; how looking at a stone curlew is believed to cure jaundice; why red kites' nests contain underwear with surprising regularity; and the gamekeeper who shot nightingales because they 'kept the pheasants awake at night'... "

"...Ninety million house martins drain out of Eurasia every autumn, but exactly where they go in Africa is unclear. Of all the 290,000 that have been ringed in Britain and Ireland, only one has every been recovered south of the Sahara".

(By the way, on 16 August a circuitous cycle ride from Dr Johnson's House to Shadwell Basin took me by the Tate Modern, where a pair of Peregrine Falcons are roosting about ninety metres up on the old smokestack. RSPB staff were on hand with high powered binoculars mounted on tripods, explaining the birds' behaviour in their new territory. The space between Giles Gilbert Scott's building and St Paul's cathederal is their theatre. It transforms the way you see the place.)

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