birds (Remove filter)
“The birds will wake you up!” they said.
I’d doubted that, but yes, it’s true -
no sooner have the stars all fled
than osprey cries come piercing through
the speaker in the wooden shed
that guards the tree where they have bred
for many years, successfully bred.
This week I’ve more than filled my quota
of opening up the eyes of tourists.
Last night was my slot on the...
Wednesday 14th June 2023 4:15 pm
How long will we have to wait?
We line the cliff top path.
Below, the breakers resonate
and jubilant kittiwakes laugh.
We question one of the volunteer staff,
“How long will we have to wait?”
“How long will you have to wait?”
She smiles and makes it clear:
yesterday it was ten to eight,
Thursday, not here -
or so they think - it didn’t appear!
“How long ca...
Sunday 11th June 2023 8:01 am
I’m putting out some food on my fantasy bird table
hoping to attract my all-time favourite birds.
The first to arrive are the ones that used my first table:
robins, tits, and blackbirds that nested in the woods.
The flock that follows them are the best I’ve seen in Britain:
a ptarmigan, an osprey, a dotterel and a smew,
a bearded tit, a peregrine, a puffin and a bittern...
Friday 9th June 2023 12:34 pm
Looping round till it’s a blur
the falconer swings the weighted lure
beneath the bird, enticing her
to go into a stoop.
With hooking bill and crookéd claw
and plunging like a meteor
she swipes the fakery to the floor
with a vicious slap of feathers.
Around the crowd, a communal gasp.
The predator’s grappling in its clasp
the prize, but is the bird a...
Friday 26th May 2023 4:52 pm
The balance of life and death
rests on a dot in the sky
whose frivolous shivering breath
rivals the moths in its quivering
rippling hovering, high
and triumphant amongst the cumulus,
the twin-piping syrinx delivering
an opus more complex, more tremulous
and vaporous than any cantata.
The minstrel of the meadow
sees the grasshopper climbing,
sees the froghopper fal...
Saturday 20th May 2023 10:09 pm
A colony of terns concedes no paucity
of energy: the strident racket rising
in steep vociferous steps
envelopes your whole mind as if by sorcery.
But one event might strike you as surprising:
now and then - untold by any augury
and with no cause - it stops.
A rigid talon grips the atmosphere
and sound shuts down, as though there’s been a sudden
resetting of the wi...
Wednesday 17th May 2023 12:41 pm
Sixty tonne of metal bellowing down the sky
assails the quietude
of reeds and muddy pools
where spoonbills sift through sludge and seagulls drift nearby.
The mouth of the Ria Formosa’s a birders’ paradise:
miles of salt pans hosting
birds of low-lying coastline,
in thousands upon thousands. It’s Eden beyond price
in every way but one: the fence of Faro A...
Wednesday 19th May 2021 2:15 pm
I set off on a ramble through the Forest of Bowland
binoculars at the ready, a bird book to hand.
I hope to see some species that don't breed in the lowlands,
hen harriers and short eared owls, quartering the land.
My list has pipits, crows and jackdaws,
grouse in surplus but no raptors.
I tick off golden plover, curlew and wheatear
but where are the skydancers?
Saturday 5th August 2017 10:48 am
Look at this thing, this gruesome thing, this shake-off from the slick.
A car mechanic’s rag, a bag of bile, a doodling hand that drags
a biro clot of crudeness up the beach.
This foul-up. This bird. This broken component of our world.
Then look at that: a flesh gorged kite, circling
while cluster bombs slake a starving nation’s soil.
America’s pin puckered vein, the fight for th...
Tuesday 1st December 2015 12:55 pm