Tuesday, 21 June 2011
"Their Tiny Racing Hearts..."
A couple of birdspreads from recent sketchbooks...
Elbow have long been among my favourite current groups. But I like them even more since those songs about birds on their last album.
Bird activity is at it’s annual peak here. My garden sounds like a school playground with squadrons of sparrows and tits and finches and blackbirds and woodpeckers and crows whooping and swooping from bush to tree to rooftop to birdtable. When I wander out in the morning with their food I feel like I’m stepping into some extraordinary Disney fantasy.
In my studio fledgling swallows are circling over my head shepherded with shrill squeaks and squawks from mum and dad. I love it when they’re in residence. This year they arrived back from Africa on exactly the same day as last year. I know this because I’ve started to log things like this (my excite-o-meter is calibrated to a very low threshold these days). They sit on a perch and talk to each other for ages - I feel like an eavesdropper - a complicated series of chirrups often ending with that decaying ‘chiiiirrrrrrrrr’. Noone can tell me they aren’t having conversations.
Birds remain so fascinating because we still know so little about them. How do they find their way from South Africa to my garage/studio every year on the same day? (I’ve got friends that can’t find their way from Wanstead to here). Do they follow the sun and the stars? Or is it the pull of magnetic fields? There are lots of theories, lots of ‘may’, ‘might’ and ‘perhaps’ but no-one seems to know properly.
Anyway, here’s a fresh face that flew in last week. A nondescript little brown bird - I couldn’t quite place him - not a dunnock, not a whitethroat. I reached for my bird book and was delighted to identify him as a nightingale. He didn’t sing but he seemed a spirited little fellow who only reluctantly let me give him a hand to get back to the great outdoors.
“...what we gonna do with you?... same tail every time....”