The Bird Is On The Wing

Spring is Sprung

There was a surprise the other day. A lavender bush with a lot of flowers on it waiting to be picked and dried appeared to have suffered from a dose of voracious moths. But no sign of caterpillars and when do caterpillars eat lavender flowers?

That was before we caught the culprits.

The grass is riz 

Goldfinches, I believe. Not seen these beauties in ages. Watching them do their avian-as-locust impersonation took me back to boyhood and trailing after Dad as we went birds’ nesting.

Back then it wasn’t illegal to collect a bird’s eggs though it was becoming rather passé. Rather we’d hunt for the nests, identify the birds either from the actual birds flying in and out or, better still from my perspective because it seemed like we were detectives from the eggs themselves.

I wonder where the burdies is.

Dad was exceptional at finding nests. Benefit of the classic misspent youth, I guess. And he had a compendious knowledge of the birds themselves. We’d be out on a walk and while most would look at the view or talk in awed terms about the trees or the flowers, Dad would be peering into the nearest hedge.

While the rest of us would see twigs and leaves Dad could make out the shape of a nest. Once, he saw a yellowhammer flit into a hedge some fifty yards ahead. Dad’s excitement was palpable as he increased his pace and headed for where that little bird had disappeared.

The yellow hammer is interesting enough

but what I really remember where its eggs

because, as a result of these patterned beauties it was also called the Arabic-writing bird for a reason.

The burd is on the wing

Being shown that nest, tucked into the hawthorn of a straggly unprepossessing hedge alongside a nondescript rural road in deepest darkest Kent will stay with me for a long time yet.

Not that long ago I did a post on a walk I’d done from Margate to Broadstairs. At one point that day I spotted a skylark. People talk about the skylark for its exceptional song. But the thing I like about it – as shown to me by Dad – was how it would try and deceive you as to where it had made its nest.

But that’s absurd

The cunning little minx would hover and then drop to the cliff top ground cover making you think ‘ah ha’ nest. But in fact I’m landed yards away and, on landing scurried off to its nest through the undergrowth.

And then there was the red back shrike.

A shrike is one of the most blood thirsty of nature’s beasts impaling its prey on spikes. As a small, naturally bloodthirsty lad this was brilliant.

Birds. Ah the fun. Clever, beautiful and dangerous to know. You might say the same about … no, of course I couldn’t. After all I don’t know anyone who eats lavender.

The wing is on the burd

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published two anthologies of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand and Life in a Flash. More will appear soon, including a memoir of my mother's last years. I will try and continue to blog regularly at geofflepard.com about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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46 Responses to The Bird Is On The Wing

  1. This is a charming post, Geoff, fascinating too. I never did anything like that, so I enjoyed hearing about you and your dad. Sorry about the lavender… Hugs!

    Like

  2. Greedy little so-and-sos aren’t they?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love birds, one of these days I may become a twitcher!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I remember the first time we saw a yellowhammer. We thought someone had sprayed a sparrow with yellow paint, but we had several visit out garden when we had the cottage. We also had green finches and gold finches. We also saw a white sparrow, a one in a million chance, but it was on the marina that I saw my first bull finch and redwing up close. Love the birds. I could watch them all day.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The wild bunnies always ate my lavender.
    Lovely post and photos, top of my morning, thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Mary Smith says:

    Lovely post, Geoff. My dad was also great at finding nests and had been a keen egg collector when he was young. Even when he was in the later stages of dementia he could identify and remember the names of the birds he saw.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve never seen birds eating lavender. Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Ritu says:

    So…if you were to stuff one of these said lavender-munching birds, and store in your underpants drawer, would they be the same as a scent sachet…? And give your undies the beautiful aroma of lavender???

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I’ve had tiny little wrens gathered on my lavender plants, I’d assumed they were consuming any little aphids or such but maybe they weren’t………. I love watching birds and should have loved having your dad around!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Norah says:

    These birds are gorgeous, Geoff, and your tidbits of information fascinating. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. willowdot21 says:

    Lovely post, I have learned a great deal 💜

    Liked by 1 person

  12. JT Twissel says:

    My husband is crazy about birds – he even names the ones that show up regularly and owns several books on birds so that he can identify them. We rarely see their nests but then we live next to a grove of trees.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Charli Mills says:

    The birds know winter is coming and they are voracious for seeds right now. Your father’s misspent youth led you to be the observant writer you are, making a fine post out of stripped lavender. Do your goldfinches fly like riding a roller-coaster like their American cousins? They are one of my favorite birds to watch in flight. So happy.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. arlingwoman says:

    The goldfinches eat zinnia petals, seeds, and yes, lavender blossoms. Your pictures of them are lovely. I’m interested linguistically, though, as “yellowhammer” here refers to a flicker, which is a sort of woodpecker. Alabama is the yellowhammer state and my father always called flickers that. Now, I find that other folks apply that term to finches… fascinating! And great pictures.

    Like

  15. ellenbest24 says:

    Their poop must smell like Parma violets. Love your pics too. From one bird freak to another.

    Like

  16. trifflepudling says:

    I remember one very cold winter in Oxfawdshire, a flock of Goldcrests coming and eating the entire lot of flowers I’d left on a lavender in about 3 minutes. They were quite a sight!

    Liked by 1 person

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