Thursday, 2 October 2014

The pleasure of watching birds

Whether one lives in the countryside or in the city, there are always wild birds to be found. It takes only patience and a certain stillness and soon enough a bird or a flock of birds will come into view. Watching birds can bring considerable pleasure.

From my window I have a good view of the garden, and I am fortunate to live in a place in which there is an abundance of wild birds. I love to identify the different species of bird that arrive in my garden. There are the flocks of starlings that arrive en masse, a great speckled blackness pecking in the grass or weaving a dance in the sky. Goldfinches are another bird that appear in packs, little fluttering flashes of gold and red that settle on the roofs of the houses or amongst the branches of trees. House sparrows, though dowdy of feather, remain interesting to watch on account of their constant movement, their squabbles and their comparative boldness. Blackbirds often appear solo; with their bright orange beaks and musical whistle they are a pleasant presence in the garden, though when a cat appears their warning cry carries quite a distance and can grate on the nerves. Tits, of any variety, are always a flashy presence with their vivid colouring and acrobatic capability they are the true showman of the suburban garden. The robin is a heartening presence in winter or summer. Crows are always an interesting visitor; there is something in the eyes of a crow that speak intelligence, and their glossy feathers and vicious beak create an impressive vision.

Even within the apparent desert of cities, birds may often be found. The pigeon, though considered a pest, is still quite beautiful. With their soft grey feathers, interspersed with light pinks and lavender, a glitter of teal, and their curiously clockwork-like movements, their variety and boldness they are a most under-appreciated presence in our cities. Their deformed feet and the way in which people disperse them so offhandedly, is a source of much dismay. It is easy to forget that pigeons thrive in such numbers because of human wastefulness and lack of care for the environment. Similarly in seaside resorts, gulls are a familiar but unwelcome presence yet they are quite graceful and appealing in flight.

It is exciting to hear the hoot of the owl at night. 

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