Where are the birds?

We moved down her initially many years ago when I was eighteen; I let and moved north, but eleven years ago we moved back. I remember when we lived here before, in the evening there would be magnificent wheeling clouds of starlings every evening as they few off together to roost. We didn’t see many magpies over in Cambridgeshire, but when we moved here there were groups of magpies, sometimes up to twenty. I didn’t really pay much attention to birds, but I do remember those two things.

Now we are back here and this year I have been conscious that there are hardly nay starlings; they used to flock into the garden when we put food out for the birds… not the flocks I saw years and years ago, but a couple of dozen of the shouty, chattering, funny creatures. We see the occasional pair of magpies now, I actually did see two pairs the other day, but not the big raucous groups there used to be.

We are still fortunate to have plenty of sparrows, they seem to be in decline in other parts of the country, seagulls of course because we are beside the sea, and various corvids. We have a fine lot of jackdaws strutting around this year, and a few crows too; we also have several pairs of blackbirds near here, the occasional robin or couple of bluetits, and of curse the nightjar I mentioned a little while ago. Most summers we hear and even see woodpeckers, I did hear a cuckoo in the spring, but I have never ever seen a thrush down here. We also have a lovely pair of collared doves, who are so pretty.

So, we still do have plenty of birds, but just not the same number as we used to, and there are definite absences in the ranks. Disease? Climate change? The natural ups and downs of bird population? Who knows… but I miss the starlings!

A poem

by Pam Ayres

We’re starlings, the missus, meself and the boys,
We don’t go round hopin’, we walks.
We don’t go in for this singing all day,
And twittering about, we just squawks.

We don’t go in for these fashionable clothes,
Like old Missel Thrush, and his spots,
Me breast isn’t red, there’s no crest on me head,
We’ve got sort of, hardwearing…dots.

We starlings, the misses, meself and the boys,
We’ll eat anything that’s about,
Well anything but that old half coconut,
I can’t hold it still. I falls out.

What we’d rather do, is wait here for you,
To put out some bread for the tits,
And then when we’re certain, you’re there by the curtain,
We flocks down and tears it to bits.

But we starlings, the missus, meself and the boys,
We reckon that we’re being got at,
You think for two minutes, them finches and linnets,
You never sees THEM being shot at.

So the next time you comes out to sprinkle the crumbs out,
And there’s starlings there, making a noise,
Don’t you be so quick to heave half a brick,
It’s the missus, meself and the boys!

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