World Shorebirds Day 2016
The global count of shorebirds will be from 2 to 2 September. More information at https://worldshorebirdsday.wordpress.com/2016/07/12/global-shorebird-counting-2016-registration/
In 2014, participants were invited to sketch the birds they saw; see some of the results at https://worldshorebirdsday.wordpress.com/programs/sketching-artists/2014-shorebird-arts/
Black-winged stilts in Japan by Narisa Togo
While I think of them they are growing rare
after the distances they have followed
all the way to the end for the first time
tracing a memory they did not have
until they set out to remember it
at an hour when all at once it was late
and newly silent and the white had turned
white around them then they rose in their choir
on a single note each of them alone
between the pull of the moon and the hummed
undertone of the earth below them
the glass curtains kept falling around them
as they flew in search of their place before
they were anywhere and storms winnowed them
they flew among the places with towers
and passed the tower lights where some vanished
with their long legs for wading in shadow
others were caught and stayed in the countries
of the nets and in the lands of lime twigs
some fastened and after the countries of
guns at first light fewer of them than I
remember would be here to recognize
the light of late summer when they found it
playing with darkness along the wet sand
by WS Merwin
Listen to WS Merwin speak about words in the world:
The endless possibilities of heron:
‘Green Heron’ by John Audubon, from the collection of the Brooklyn Museum
Image at wikipedia.org
On the First Day She Made Birds
He asked me if I had a choice
what kind of bird
would I choose to be.
I know what he thought I’d say
since he tried to end
my sentences half the time
anyway. Something exotic
he thought. He thought
That would fit
and primary colored
he would think.
(He thinks too much
I always thought.)
But really at heart
don’t laugh now
an L B J
little brown job
I’m not the
to branch type
such a waste
of energy all that
and scritch scritch scratch.
can you see me
seed pod clamped
between my beak
like some landowner,
between his teeth?
No I think not
You ask why?
That hunched look
wings tucked to neck
in the sun
on a wide slab of rock
alongside a slow river
like some old man
up from a bad night’s dream
where he’s seen his coffin
and you say to him
Have a nice day
and he says Make me.
Oh you want looks
I’ll give you
long olive green feathers
a trace of
I could stand
going out iridescent
chestnut sides and head
a black crown
yes a crown
to flash when you get
dark bill bright
and that creamy streak
down my throat and pecs
but good pecs
just enough for a quick
hop to the next.
The best part
no sexual dimorphism
by Diana Garcia http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poets/detail/diana-garcia
Green Heron, Butorides virescens
Image at wikipedia.org
Words for bird calls:
‘The green heron’s call is a loud and sudden kyow; it also makes a series of more subdued kuk calls. During courtship, the male gives a raah-rahh call with wide-open bill, makes noisy wingbeats and whoom-whoom-whoom calls in flight, and sometimes calls roo-roo to the female before landing again. While sitting, an aaroo-aaroo courtship call is also given…’
Description at wikipedia.org
Do not disturb:
Birds breeding, feeding & sleeping at Wilson Inlet in Denmark, Western Australia, March 2016
For every bird a nest:
For every Bird a Nest—
Wherefore in timid quest
Some little Wren goes seeking round—
Wherefore when boughs are free—
Households in every tree—
Pilgrim be found?
Perhaps a home too high—
The little Wren desires—
Perhaps of twig so fine—
Of twine e’en superfine,
Her pride aspires—
The Lark is not ashamed
To build upon the ground
Her modest house—
Yet who of all the throng
Dancing around the sun
Does so rejoice?
an illustrated anthology of poems about birds – edited by Billy Collins, illustrated by David Allen Sibley – Columbia University Press 2009
29 February 2016
On an Edwardian postcard
‘In Leap Year, longing for a cosy nest/I ask you, will you be my very best’
Image at http://www.etsy.com/listing/268026709/leap-year-postcard-set-love-birds
By tradition, in 19th century Britain and Ireland, women could propose marriage to men on leap year’s day…
Image at wikipedia.org
Leap Year Poem:
Thirty days hath September,
April, June and November.
All the rest have thirty-one,
Excepting February alone,
And that has twenty-eight days clear
And twenty-nine in each leap year.
by Mother Goose
Image at wikipedia.org
In October 2015, Flightpathproject revisited India.
Migrants in Madhya Pradesh
Flightpathproject spent a morning birding at the 600-acre Sirpur Lake, near Indore in Madhya Pradesh. Winter migrants are late this year, waiting for the weather to cool down, but some early birds, including cotton teal, have just arrived.
Cotton teal (Nettapus coromandelianus, aka Cotton pygmy-geese) among lily pads.
Image at http://www.birds.iitk.ac.in/wiki/cotton-pygmy-goose
Still waters at Sirpur
Reed beds line the lakeshore: a filter system for water and feeding ground for birds.
More of these extraordinary images of Sirpur’s reed beds at http://www.dubeyashish.com
More information about conserving Sirpur at http://www.tnvindia.org
Words about wetlands
Flightpathproject was again tracking the movements of poet Laurence Hope. The 1895-1900 diaries of Scottish writer and painter Violet Jacob, who was in central India at the same time as and spent time with Laurence Hope, brought Flightpathproject to the lake. The lilies of Sirpur – then known as Sherepore – had the same effect now as then.
20 July 1896: I heard the other day that the great pink lotus was to be seen in flower at a place called Sherepore tank a few miles from Indore…the creek was full of lovely rose-coloured flowers standing with their heads raised above the thick masses of leaves…it was most wonderful to me who have only seen it in pictures.’
Violet Jacob Diaries and Letters from India 1895- 1900, Canongate Publishing, 1990
The Feast Day of St Francis of Assisi is on Sunday 4 October
St Francis Preaching to the Birds (San Francesco predica agli uccelli), by Giotto, 1299
Surrealist version/vision by MC Escher, 1922.
Images at http://www.wikiart.org
Saint Francis and the Birds
When Francis preached love to the birds
They listened, fluttered, throttled up
Into the blue like a flock of words
Released for fun from his holy lips.
Then wheeled back, whirred about his head,
Pirouetted on brothers’ capes.
Danced on the wing, for sheer joy played
And sang, like images took flight.
Which was the best poem Francis made,
His argument true, his tone light.
by Seamus Heaney
All creatures great and small:
The inimitable Dawn French as the Vicar of Dibley, blessing more than birds
‘Animals’, Episode 1:6, 1994. Image at http://www.bbc.co.uk
Birds, words and music:
A piece about about Molloy, Messiaen and the music of birds by Australian composer and broadcaster Andrew Ford at http://www.insidestory.org.au/everyone-was-a-bird
Georgiana Molloy – the mind that shines.
Biography by Bernice Barry, Redgate, 2015
Catalogue of birds:
Listen to the Black-eared wheatear by Messiaen from his Catalogue d’oiseaux at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JE4vSviuoSw