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A glass of pre-dinner wine cold and dry 

stove-top bubbling and sizzling.

I glance out my open window and see

fifteen magpies on the roofline behind the garden.

No – eighteen! And more.

That's a FLOCK of these quarrelsome birds!

I watch pairs often enough strutting about

mutually aloof

pecking at patches of moss, up-turning stones.

It's been an average month - lots of  food available.


But this congregation sitting in a row along the roofline

all facing East precisely?

Shifting orderly to admit a new arrival

who, in turn, turns for complete synchrony? 

All silent except the core group in the centre

calling across the evening sky to dedicated birds

wheeling in from South and East

directly to this meeting place?

Most unusual.


Twenty-five – twenty-nine - I'm losing count.

My fingers are chilling through.

But cold wine isn't raising goosebumps up my backbone.


Thirty-five magpies stretched across the roof

like carvings 

leaders and followers in tacit discipline.

Summoning a conference on War Strategy:

Defense - attack - territory negotiations?

Or a severe court hearing :

Ostricism - banishment - death sentence?

There is nothing haphazard about this gathering:



Shades of the Acropolis!

I swill half my drink  in one gulp

and turn back to the comfort of cooking.

When I look out again the roof is clear 

not one magpie in sight.

My window is wide open: a soundless departure.


I top up my wine

the cold bottle solid in my hot hand.

I raise my glass to the empty roof line -

and the Mystery of Magpies.









◄ Families

Bumble Bee ►


<Deleted User> (13762)

Sat 27th Aug 2016 05:17

When I was a child seeing more than a couple of magpies together was quite rare. Not so today. They seem to have found a gap in the market somewhere. Probably forced off the land like so many other poor farmers and headed to the towns and cities and back gradens to seek their fortunes with Mr Fox.

I'm sure there's a hierarchical system in place when it comes to where they all line up. Like starlings roosting. Chris Packham would know.

I wonder if there is something else going on in your magpie reverie? It's as if the Cabinet are gathering at no.10 or the top bods are having one of their Cobra meetings. But then they're gone and we are left wondering what all the fuss was about. Electioneering.

As Tommy said, well penned.

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Tommy Carroll

Fri 26th Aug 2016 17:45

With Hitchcockian precision your lines reflect the order of thier strange sojourn and departure. Well penned CBT. Tommy

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