Sunday, April 28, 2013

In Pursuit of Spring - The Grave of Winter.

Ernest Hazelhurst(original IPS illustration)

The final Chapter of  In Pursuit does what it ought:it contains elements of the whole before bringing the book to a satisfying end with a surprising image. It is in fact a reprise: he had arrived at Kilve, his destination, the night before the chapter opens, but is having a look further afield before turning for a train station and home.
Kilve Beach

There is a long diversion, similar to the early one on clay pipes, on the subject of waterproofs. Or rather not-waterproofs. We have certainly an advantage over Thomas as we do have garments that are both waterproof, light, easy to walk in and don't tear - something he thought would never be possible.
And a shorter one about local biscuits especially Half-Moon biscuits.

Birds - A thrush, starlings and 'The end of rain as I hoped, was sung away by missel-thrushes in the roadside oaks, by a chain of larks' songs which much have reached all over England.' Seagulls, rooks.           

Remarkable individuals - road-menders: 'the corduroys of one were stained so thoroughly by the red mud of the Quantocks, and shaped so excellently by wear to his tall spare figure, that they seemed to be one with the man.'
                                        the 'two old men sat in the small settle at the fireside talking of the cold weather, for so they deemed it. Bent, grinning old men they were, using rustic, deliberate grave speech.'

Flowers     -'tall arum, nettle, and celandine, and one plant of honesty from the last cottage garden.'


At the same time he is travelling, looking west.
Crowcombe Court: 'the sun was bright.' Now a wedding venue as are very many of the properties on his route.

 'I turned off for West Bagborough, setting my face toward the wooded flank of Bagborough Hill.'

 It was at the inn there he met the two old men. Then on to Cothelstone.

'I saw through the trees the gray mass of Cothelstone Manor-house beside its lake, and twelve miles off in the same direction the Wellington obelisk on the Black Down Hills. A stone seat on the other side of the trees commands both the manor house beneath and the distant obelisk. The seat is in an arched-over recess in the thickness of a square wall of masonry, six or seven feet in height and breadth. A coeval old hawthorn, spare and solitary, sticks out from the base of the wall. The whole is surmounted by a classic stone statue of an emasculated man larger than human, nude except for some drapery falling behind, long-haired, with left arm uplifted, and under its feet a dog; and it looks straight over at the obelisk. I do not know if the statue and the obelisk are connected, nor, if so, whether the statue represents the Iron Duke, his king, or a classic deity; the mutilation is against the last possibility. Had the obelisk not been so plainly opposite, I should have taken the figure for some sort of a god, the ponderous, rustic-classic fancy of a former early nineteenth-century owner of Cothelstone Manor. The statue and masonry, darkened and bitten by weather, in that high, remote, commanding place, has in any case long outgrown the original conception and intention, and become a classi-rustical, romantic what-you-please, waiting for its poet or prose poet. '
(The blog in-pursuit-of-spring has fine pictures and extracts on this.)
Cothelstone Hill

'a dome of green and ruddy grasses in the south-east, sprinkled with thorn trees and capped by the blunt tower of a beacon. The primrose roots hard by me had each sufficient flowers to make a child's handful..
          Turning to the left again, when the signpost declared it seven and three-quarters miles to Bridgewater, I found myself on a glorious sunlit road without hedge, bank, or fence on either side, proceeding through fern, gorse, and ash trees scattered over mossy slopes.'
The final pages are too evocative, too expressive of the spirit of the whole, to cut. The bluebells, dropped by the side of the road, the rainbow, the distant views to Wales  and the close -'The million gorse petals were like flames sown by the sun.'
The Grave of Winter.
Here they are as Thomas would have proof-read them in 1913, his saddest, most desperate year. What courage and strength he had.

As it will be Artweeks in Oxfordshire soon (4th May onwards.) I will show some of Marc's paintings when they fit in.
More details on


Well, I didn't care for it much,  but I was reviewed in the Times Literary Supplement last week.

Peter McDonald
  •  Margaret Keeping A CONSCIOUS ENGLISHMAN 290pp. Street Books. Paperback, £9.99.
  • ----------------------------------------------------------------------
Saturday 8th June,
Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire
The Edward Thomas Fellowship has organised an "extra" walk for the more hardy walkers. In the countryside around Steep (where Edward Thomas lived, 1906-16), Stephen Turner will lead an all-day strenuous walk of between 8 and 10 miles, including some steep climbs. Walking boots or stout comfortable shoes will be essential.

Meet at Bedales School car park at 10.00 a.m. Most of the walkers will have lunch at a local inn; but there is a suitable picnic spot nearby for those wishing to bring a packed lunch.

There will be readings along the route. The walk will probably be completed by 5 p.m.

This event is open to non-members, but it is limited to about 20 participants. Places must be booked by Monday 3rd June. A pub lunch may also be booked when reserving a place on the walk. Please book by telephone on 01252 - 810 852 or email at


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

New book of Eleanor Farjeon's Poems

Anne Harvey, Eleanor Farjeon's literary executor and scholar of all things Farjeon, sent me this news. Full details of Eleanor Farjeon's work below. I've also shown other  Laurel books of interest to Thomas enthusiasts including of course In Pursuit of Spring.

Laurel BooksThe Deceitful Calm


The night will never stay,

The night will still go by,

Though with a million stars

You pin it to the sky;

Though you bind it with the blowing wind

And buckle it with the moon,

The night will slip away

Like sorrow or a tune.

LIKE SORROW OR A TUNE is a new collection of the poetry of ELEANOR FARJEON


introducing her to fresh readers who are not entirely sure who she was or what she wrote in her long writing career.


“Oh yes, I remember”… She wrote that marvellous autobiography of the 1890s Childhood she and her three brothers shared in a Hampstead nursery….no real education, play acting, books, cricket and writing stories, theatre visits, music…father a novelist, mother the daughter of a great American actor……..

and….. she was a famous children’s writer of over 80 books,stories, poems and plays ; winner of 3 major Awards

and…..she was the plump and bespectacled cosy cat-loving woman who wrote the lyrics for MORNING HAS BROKEN…….

and…. she was the shy, literary, clever woman who was a friend of Walter de la Mare,Robert Frost, and D.H.Lawrence and fell in love

with EDWARD THOMAS, wrote a memoir of their 4-year Friendship

and some heart-breaking sonnets of her love for him…..and…and…


All aspects of her long and colourful life emerge in the diverse range


edited by ANNE HARVEYwith a foreword by PIERS PLOWRIGHT


Available in bookshops from 25th April 2013. Price £9.99

ISBN 978-1-873390-14-6


282The Common

Holt,Wiltshire,BA14 6QJ

Tel:01225 782874

This is very good news. I have not seen more than one of those sonnets -
the one which I was given permission to reproduce in the novel:

"She had the look of a woman who could not wait to meet her lover. Mrs Farjeon had to speak out.

Eleanor ran to her room and wept for a few minutes. Then she asked the maid to take a note to

the telegraph exchange, sending her apologies. Her birthday gifts to Edward were posted some days before..

Much of the day she spent gazing into the fire, crying useless tears.

Sometimes she pictured him sitting opposite her in the chair on the other side of the fire, reading, smoking his pipe, while she read too; sometimes they’d smile at each other, or break off reading when they were compelled to share something the other would like. Then perhaps, she dreamed, he would say loving words to her. He would¾but no, this was wrong, it was wrong to force him into an image that was not and never could be a true one:

‘Forgive, forgive the words you have not spoken!

Forgive the words I shall not speak to you!

Forgive the broken silence, still unbroken,

When strength and resolution are worn through.

Forgive the looks you are strange to, oh forgive

The embrace you will not offer while you live.’ "
Eleanor on holiday

'Strange Meetings: Poems by Harold Monro' Strange Meetings

Edited with an Introduction and Notes by Dominic Hibberd

Harold Monro was one of the leaders in the revolution in poetry just before the First World War, contributing through his writing, the Poetry Bookshop he established and the three periodicals he created. His reputation as a generous supporter of new talent is unquestioned. His friend, T.S. Eliot wrote, ". . . he has not simply done something better than anyone else, but has done something that no one else has done at all." Driven first by visionary hope for the future, Monro wrote on themes as diverse as war, sexuality, threats to the environment, domesticity and the death of a lover in battle. The end of his life was clouded by loss, illness and disappointment, and his poetry which Edward Thomas called "intensely interesting", naturally grew bleaker and more pessimistic. Yet as T.S. Eliot said, ". . . it is a world which we ought to visit."

Dominic Hibberd has taught at universities in Britain, the United States and China. Now a freelance author, he lives in the Cotswolds. His publications include two biographies, Harold Monro: Poet of the New Age (2000)―described by the Sunday Times as 'gripping'―and the much acclaimed Wilfred Owen: A New Biography (2002), as well as Wilfred Owen: The Last Year 1917-1918 (1992), Owen the Poet (1986) and various editions, anthologies and academic articles, mostly about the literature of the First World War.
ISBN 978-1-873390-05-4 Pbk 128pp £7.99

'In Pursuit of Spring' by Edward ThomasIn Pursuit of Spring

A year before the start of World War I, finding life as a critic and journalist stressful and unsatisfying, Edward Thomas wrote this account of a ride on a bicycle from London to the Quantocks. The book, a classic of English literature, combines Thomas's unsentimental self analysis with an emphasis on the importance of place and nature to other writers, especially poets. It also records the tacit reactions of a transcendental thinker to the rising threat of war. Having achieved perhaps his finest work in prose in 'In Pursuit of Spring', Thomas was next to turn to writing the poetry which has secured his reputation.
ISBN 978-1-873390-04-7 Pbk 240pp £9.99
Visit the In Pursuit of Spring website:

'Light and Twilight' by Edward Thomas

Light and Twilight

The fourteen short stories in 'Light and Twilight' are Edward Thomas's prose masterpiece on the themes of death and desire. Their objective is to pinpoint moments when the defining elements of life reveal themselves, like stars at sunset. Readers familiar with his poetry will discover the stories in 'Light and Twilight' to be as hauntingly beautiful. This is the first edition since 1911.
ISBN 978-1-873390-03-0 Pbk 92pp £6.99


Marc Thompson - untitled

As it will be Artweeks in Oxfordshire soon (4th May onwards.) I will show some of Marc's paintings when they fit in.
More details on

Monday, April 22, 2013

Nearing the end of In Pursuit of Spring, and finding poetry.

As I reached these chapters I understood more fully what it was in In Pursuit that had inspired Robert Frost to recognise the poet in Thomas. The chapters have such visual power that I thought of having no illustrations at all but hadn't quite the courage.

These last chapters show the same conciseness and sensuousness without verbosity  that he admires in other modern poets. 
For conciseness and wit what better than this about  boarding house?

'a clean, new, and unfriendly place that caused a sensation of having slept in linoleum.'

And on a Bridgewater tomb of an Irish soldier:

'He is a fine fellow, albeit of stone, leaning on his elbow and looking at the world...'

And for sensuousness: At Bridgewater: ...'the quay was quiet, and a long greyhound lay stretched out across the roadway, every inch of him content in the warm sun.' copyright

For visual exactness and freshness:
'So bright was the blossom on the gorse that its branches were shadowy and nearly invisible in the brightness.'

'Nearby, on the other side, was another such hill, which  I first took notice of when it was cut in two perpendicularly by the signpost pointing to Spaxton.It was but  a blunt, conical hillside of green corn, rosy ploughland, sheep-fed pasture, and a few elms in the partitions; and behind it the dim Quantocks.'

As he reaches Nether Stowey and thinks of Coleridge the honeysuckle begins, not yet in flower but:

' Honeysuckle ramped on the banks of deep-worn road in such profusion as I had never before seen. The sky had clouded softly , and the sun-warmed misty woods of the coombs, the noise of slender waters threading them, the exuberant young herbage, the pure glowers of stitchwort and the pink and 'silver white' cuckoo flowers, but above all the abounding honeysuckle, produced an effect of wildness and richness, purity and softness, so vivid that the association of Nether Stowey was hardly needed to summon up Coleridge.'

' On the left two converging hillsides framed a wedge of sea, divided into parallel bands of gray and blue.'

And last:  'there massed together the main eminences of Exmoor, of a uniform gray, soft and unmoulded, that was lost from time to time either in the wild, hurrying, and fitfully gleaming sky, or in tawny smoke rolling low down the Quantocks seaward.'

Marc Thompson - Evening landscape.
As it will be Artweeks in Oxfordshire soon (4th May onwards.) I will show some of Marc's paintings when they fit in.
More details on

No poem today because of the poetic prose.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

In Pursuit of Spring:Coleridge - a sunny day and a chiff-chaff.

Coleridge or STC.

Edward Thomas was an  admirer and critical student of Wordsworth, Coleridge and the Lyrical Ballads. Surely that volume influenced the thinking, with Frost, that one or the other of them, or both, should write a book on the theory of poetry. He considered Coleridge a great critic. But in In Pursuit of Spring and in  his 'A Literary Pilgrim in England ' he insists that Coleridge was a West Country man(originally from Devon) and that all his best work was written there at Nether Stowey in Somerset.
Coleridge had a tremendous benefactor, Thomas Poole, who lived in Nether Stowey in this fine house: the Coleridge's cottage was his and the  garden linked with the Poole's.

Poole House, now a B and B.

The Coleridges' cottage, Nether Stowey, Somerset.
Then William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy moved to a house nearby at Alfoxden, and their 'marvellous year' of 1795 began as Coleridge leaped over the fence to join them on his first visit.

Alfoxden as it was then - now very different.

Once Coleridge had moved to the Lakes, away from what Thomas saw as his natural home: 'His notebooks reveal how much he saw, and thought to use in writing, and never did. '

The In Pursuit pages on Coleridge begin with criticism of the early poems, full of   Personification  of Abstracts in Capital Letters. But Thomas admires him for overcoming the style of his times and forging the new. Edward gets over-excited, he says himself, about the copious honey-suckle around the village which might have served as 'honeydew' for the poet.

He comments many times on Coleridge's use of the terms 'mild' and 'wild' - the ideal has both qualities for him. This is the first time I have read a real close reading of poems by Edward and it is really enlightening, showing the qualities he valued. As we now know that it was in 1913 that he did make one or two attempts at poetry, before the Frost encounter, it must be that he was at some level arguing for his own potential approach.

For example on an early poem, "the uninspired accuracy of 'pink-silver skin' (of a birch tree)".

He comments on several lines which Coleridge cut out - an essential skill in a poet.

He praises the combination of the sensuous and  luxurious with  'the quality which responds to ghostliness and to the wildness of Nature, The Keepsake has it perfect, in this picture of a girl,-

In the cool morning twilight, early waked
By her full bosom's joyous restlessness,
Softly she rose, and lightly stole along,
Down the slope coppice to the woodbine bower,
Whose rich flowers, swinging in the morning breeze
Over their dim fast-moving shadows hung,
Making a quiet image of disquiet
In the smooth, scarcely moving river-pool.'

 The work of Coleridge's best period unites 'richness and delicacy, sweetness and freshness, sensuousness and wildness, spirit and sense.'

He ends his Coleridge meditation by writing of Christabel and The Ancient Mariner and quoting from the 'May opium dream' of Kubla Khan-

        But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
     Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
     A savage place! as holy and enchanted
    As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
     By woman wailing for her demon lover!

Of course what we all know about Kubla Khan is the supposed interruption by the Person from Porlock. Edward Thomas doesn't mention it.

 Porlock to Nether Stowey is quite a walk - it's now the Coleridge Way of course, taking between 3 and 4 days. Presumably the Person had some means of transport.

.The Walking Holiday comp

From Nether Stowey Edward went on to Holford - almost there at the sea, and with definite signs of spring.

April 1915 was an extraordinarily productive month for Thomas :
Wind and Mist, Lob, Digging, Home, In Memoriam, Health, and half a dozen lesser poems.

I chose In Memoriam(Easter 1915)

The flowers left thick at nightfall in the wood
This Eastertide call into mind the men,
Now far from home, who, with their sweethearts, should
Have gathered them and will do never again.   

Cover artist Marc's pictures on
Beautiful Spring day at last. We took advantage of it by having a picnic at Aston Rowant in the Chilterns and for the first time heard and actually photographed a famous Edward Thomas chiff-chaff!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

 In Pursuit of Spring, chapter V111- WH Hudson and birds.

Lark ascending , Mark Cox, Carmarthenartist.blogspot
(You will need to be into birds for this post.)
 Edward Thomas wrote a long diversion about Hudson, a man he admired. He writes to Frost and others admiringly and affectionately about the older man - his 'unique personality which is very dear to me'. He sent Hudson some of  his poems and said he was glad to receive criticism from him, though he does hold out for 'merry' describing England in Manor Farm.
 In this chapter Thomas praises Hudson on birds - adventures Among Birds had been published that year, 1913.
This extract is from 'Birds in Towns and Villages'
A thrush is making music on a tall tree beyond the garden hedge, and I am more grateful for the distance that divides us than for the song; for, just now, he does not sing so well as sometimes of an evening, when he is most fluent, and a listener, deceived by his sweetness and melody, writes to the papers to say that he has heard the nightingale. Just now his song is scrappy, composed of phrases that follow no order and do not fit or harmonize, and is like a poor imitation of an inferior mocking-bird's song.

Between the scraps of loud thrush-music I listen to catch the thin, somewhat reedy sound of a yellow-hammer singing in the middle of the adjoining grassy field. It comes well from the open expanse of purpling grass, and reminds me of a favourite grasshopper in a distant sunny land. O happy grasshopper! singing all day in the trees and tall herbage, in a country where every village urchin is not sent afield to "study natural history" with green net and a good store of pins, shall I ever again hear thy breezy music, and see thee among the green leaves, beautiful with steel-blue and creamy-white body, and dim purple over and vivid red underwings?

The bird of the pasture-land is singing still, perhaps, but all at once I have ceased to hear him, for something has come to lift me above his low grassy level, something faint and at first only the suspicion of a sound; then a silvery lisping, far off and aerial, touching the sense as lightly as the wind-borne down of dandelion.

It is the lark singing in the blue infinite heaven, at this distance with something ethereal and heavenly in his voice; but now the wide circling wings that brought him for a few moments within hearing, have borne him beyond it again; and missing it, the sunshine looks less brilliant than before, and all other bird-voices seem by comparison dull and of the earth.

Keith Tilley another lark ascending painting

Certainly there is nothing spiritual in the song of the chaffinch. There he sits within sight, motionless, a little bird-shaped automaton, made to go off at intervals of twelve or thirteen seconds; but unfortunately one hears with the song the whirr and buzz of the internal machinery.

 It is not now as in April, when it is sufficient in a song that it shall be joyous; in the leafy month, when roses are in bloom, one grows critical, and asks for sweetness and expression, and a better art than this vigorous garden singer displays in that little double flourish with which he concludes his little hurry-scurry lyric. He has practised that same flourish for five thousand years--to be quite within the mark--and it is still far from perfect, still little better than a kind of musical sneeze. So long is art!

Here follows, from my former Probation colleague, Tim Lee -
at  bird_song_tips.pdf

Hints for recognising bird song

Start close to home – in your garden or around the streets where you live. You see these birds every day but maybe take them for granted. Take more notice of them and try to memorise their songs and calls. Try to link the song to the image of the bird.

 Do the same when you are walking in your local area – Aston’s Eyot is ideal as there is a wide range of resident and migrant birds, as well as water birds.

 Whenever you hear a call or song you don’t recognise, try to track it down to see which bird is making the sound – it’s easier to remember a song or call when you have seen the bird making it.

 Soon you will have a base of knowledge that can be extended as time goes on. This helps with the process of elimination when trying to identify unrecognised songs and calls
– It sounds like a blackbird but ……ie ‘Same same but different’

Once you have built up a basic knowledge of the commonest birds you will find that you recognise a song but can’t remember which bird you should attach it to. It can help to link the song to a group of similar sounding birds and then concentrate on what distinguishes one song from another.

Here are a few pointers to help remind you how to tell similar sounding songs apart, by linking hints to the names of the birds. To understand what the hints are describing it would help to listen to the songs – see the last page for useful websites and resources.

Mnemonics for distinguishing similar bird songs Robin/Wren/Dunnock

To a beginner, these three birds can be confused. To separate them try to remember:

Wistful Wobin
– thin wistful fluting.

Ringing Wren
– a long, powerful trill in the middle of the song.

Diddly-diddly Dunnock
– a very even, level, ‘diddly-diddly’ song, often similar to Wren, but without the harsh trill.

Blackbird/SongThrush/Mistle Thrush

Similarly, these three can easily be confused so…

Beautiful Blackbird
– probably needs no introduction.

Say it Twice Song Thrush
– similar to a Blackbird but higher pitched and repeats phrases.

Mournful Mistle Thrush
– similar to Blackbird but song has a mournful tone, singing for shorter time and ending on an upward, questioning note. Likes the tops of large trees.

Great Tit /Coal Tit/Blue Tit

Great Tit

– its most common call sounds like ‘Great Tit, Great Tit’ or as is often said – ‘Tea-cher,Tea-cher’. But remember that Great Tits have numerous other calls. Bill Oddie says that if you know most woodland birds and hear something you can’t recognise, it’s probably a Great Tit.

Coal Tit
– sounds like the Great Tit ‘Tea-cher’ call but less powerful and a bit wheezy – having spent too much time down the coal mine!

Blue Tee Tee Tee Tit Tit Tit
– common call ‘Tee tee tee, tit tit tit’

Collared Dove/ Wood Pigeon

Collared Dove
– a frequently repeated three note call – Du Doo Du

Wood D D Pigeon
– a five note call similar to a Collared Dove but finishing with an extra two ‘Du Du’ notes.– Du Doo Du, Du Du

Chaffinch/Willow Warbler/Chiffchaff

Cha-Cha-Cha, Cha-Cha-Cha, Cha-Cha-Cha Chaffinch
– a series of descending notes finishing with a flourish of notes. Chaffinches also often make a plaintive ‘chink chink’ call, so also think of the Chink Chink Chaffinch.

Willow Warbler -
also sings a series of descending notes, like a soft Chaffinch song, but slower and with no flourish at the end.

While we’re on Willow Warblers, their plumage is almost identical to the -

Chiffchaff -
but their call is easy to remember as it says its own name – ‘chiff/chaff chiff/chaff chiff/chaff’ and so sounds nothing like a Willow Warbler.

Taken by Pahlini  Keeeping on 20/04/13 at Aston Rowant, Chilterns

The Crow family

Like the Chiffchaff, many of their names are perhaps onomatopoeic -

Carrion Crow
– a harsh and longish ‘crow’

– call very similar to a Crow but with a bit of imagination it could sound like ‘rook’!! However, it’s only likely to be heard in the countryside. If you’re in a town, that very large black bird is likely to be a Crow (even if there are dozens of them). If you are in the countryside, large flocks are more likely to be Rooks (but not always) and isolated birds or pairs/family groups may be Crows. If you get a close look, Rooks have greyish, dull-looking bills whereas Crows have shiny black bills.

– a shorter, higher pitched ‘jack’, often repeated 'jack jack'

– another harsh call – a nasal ‘jaay’ (is there a pattern developing here?) but a little softer than some other members of the Crow family. The call is often made twice and at a distance – Jays are more wary of people than most other Crows.

‘The Chattering Magpie’
– is the name of a famous Irish folk tune and a very apt description of the harsh, staccato nature of the call of the Magpie. This Crow doesn’t say its name but rather the name highlights that it has pied plumage.

Blackcap/Garden Warbler/Whitethroat


– a rich and varied warble, usually starting with a chattering and finishing with a flourish of flute-like notes. Some people say that you when they get into their rhythm you can detect ‘duty day/duty done/duty day/duty done’.

Garden Warbler – ‘Garbled Warbler’
- very similar to the Blackcap but its song is often longer lasting with shorter pauses and is less varied – goes on a bit. They usually sing from a well concealed perch, which adds to the difficulty of identifying the bird.

Whitethroat – ‘I am a Whitethroat’
– song more scratchy than the Blackcap and includes a frequent five/six note phrase which sounds like ‘I am a Whitethroat’. In early spring does prominent ascending/descending song flights. Often seen at the top of bushes.


There are three resident woodpeckers in the UK and their names helpfully describe them.

Green Woodpecker
– usually seen flying away from you from the ground, where it will have been feeding on ants and other invertebrates. Their yellow rump is usually visible as they fly off. Their call, known as a ‘yaffle’, is a descending series of notes, sounding like someone laughing.

Great Spotted Woodpecker
– a black and white bird, rarely seen on the ground. Often seen near the tops of trees, searching the crevices for insects. Their call is a short ‘tchick’ sound and often alerts you to their presence. The Great Spotted are also renowned for their drumming on resonant branches, to declare their territory.

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
– How do you tell a Great Spotted from a Lesser Spotted? Easy really – if you see a black and white woodpecker it is almost certainly going to be a Great Spotted. Lesser Spotted are very rare and hardly ever seen, almost never near to urban areas. As their names suggest, their size also tells them apart – Greats are the size of Starlings whereas Lesser are tiny birds, about the size of a Sparrow.

A few other hints….

Green Finch – ‘Green Beret Finch’
– staccato, machine gun like piping notes sometimes followed by whiny ‘peow, peow’ notes – like a little boy playing soldiers

Twittering Goldfinch
– usually seen in small flocks or pairs at the tops of trees or bushes, or feeding on thistles or teasels. A soft, tinkling, twittering song with occasional buzzes and wheezes.

– one of the highest pitched songs of woodland birds. Goldcrests are usually found in coniferous trees and have a soft, reeling ‘diddly diddly’ song lasting for a few seconds, gently rising to finish on a high note.

Treecreeper -
give a high pitched ‘tsee tsee’ call as they fly from tree to tree. Song similar to a Goldcrest and also difficult for some people to hear.

Peeping Bullfinch
– short, thin, single peeping note.

Reed Bunting – ‘Roadie Bunting’ – ‘one two…. one two…. one’.

‘Kee Kee Kee’ Kestrel –
call a high pitched ‘kee kee kee’, higher pitched than a green woodpecker.

Starling -
a mixture of squeaks.
Thanks, Tim.

POEM  - Sedge- Warblers

THIS beauty made me dream there was a time
Long past and irrecoverable, a clime
Where any brook so radiant racing clear
Through buttercup and kingcup bright as brass
But gentle, nourishing the meadow grass
That leans and scurries in the wind, would bear
Another beauty, divine and feminine,
Child to the sun, a nymph whose soul unstained
Could love all day, and never hate or tire,
A lover of mortal or immortal kin.
And yet, rid of this dream, ere I had drained
Its poison, quieted was my desire
So that I only looked into the water,
Clearer than any goddess or man's daughter,
And hearkened while it combed the dark green hair
And shook the millions of the blossoms white
Of water-crowfoot, and curdled to one sheet
The flowers fallen from the chestnuts in the park
Far off. And sedge-warblers, clinging so light
To willow twigs, sang longer than the lark,
Quick, shrill, or grating, a song to match the heat
Of the strong sun, nor less the water's cool,
Gushing through narrows, swirling in the pool.
Their song that lacks all words, all melody,
All sweetness almost, was dearer then to me
Than sweetest voice that sings in tune sweet words.
This was the best of May--the small brown birds
Wisely reiterating endlessly
What no man learnt yet, in or out of school.