I guess the most obvious form of feedback to the blog is via the comment option at the bottom. Just click the word and Bob’s yer uncle, Fanny’s yer aunt.
Some people, though, choose to use email, either because they are congenitally daft and can’t figure out how to leave a comment at the blog itself or - and I admit that this is much more likely - because they’d rather whatever it is they want to say is ‘heard’ only by me, for one reason or another. For the purposes of this posting, I have checked with the relevant truckshunters to ensure that they don’t mind my giving their comments the oxygen of publicity, to use Thatcher’s inglorious phrase.
So first up, a very big thankyou to everyone who’s been emailing over the past few weeks, either on my personal email address or on the truckshunter address which is always tagged on to the end of each posting. I’ve had some fascinating stuff, of which this posting features a very small amount. Thanks to you all.
In a recent posting I mentioned the ‘dawn chorus’ of birdsong in some connexion or other. As a result, truckshunter Dave Court - of whom more later - sent me an erudite and knowledgeable email on the subject. His literary style is so articulate and easy on the brain - surely the best literary style of all - that his email is worth quoting almost in its entirety...
The dawn chorus of birdsong peaks at this time of year because most of the migrant birds have arrived by now. As the last traces of Winter and Spring bow out and Summer makes itself known, male songbirds sing to attract a mate and protect their territory. You have to be up with the lark to hear it, of course. At about 0400, the roll-call begins - often in this order: blackbird (pictured above), robin, wren, tawny owl, warblers (including blackcaps and chiffchaffs), song thrush and blue tit. There’s also a dusk chorus, but as it tends to be less windy early in the morning, the clarion call to love and war is sweetest at dawn. As soon as it’s light enough for birds to look for food - about 0430 - the chorus ends.
Isn’t that lovely?
Interestingly, one of the few things I know about Dave is that he is not an ex-Nightshift listener. He happened on the truckshunter blog via the internet just a few weeks ago and has now read back through every posting - all 147 of them. I don’t know anything else about him - not even where he lives - but I’m astonished and gratified at his devotion!
Another emailer, known to me only as Ellen, also got in touch about my reference to birds. She drew my attention to the recent RSPB bird census which makes sobering and even frightening reading. According to the RSPB, bird numbers in the UK are plummeting and Ellen asks ‘Where have they all gone?’
The humble starling’s population has fallen by 62% in only 20 years; the grey partridge’s by 87% - yes eighty-seven percent. Lapwing numbers are down by 56%; remember that this was once one of our commonest and most striking birds. The glorious skylark, too, is suffering badly - numbers are down by 51%. Kestrels, too, seem to have decided to leave us to our own devices - their numbers have fallen by 35%.
But Ellen reckons that the two most worrying and thought-provoking statistics concern the once common yellowhammer, whose population has dropped by an amazing 54%, and the cuckoo, which - unbelievably - has now been placed on the endangered list.
While I was staying with my friend Sue near Hereford recently, it was wonderful - almost blissful - to lie abed and listen to what must be one of the most characteristic and unmistakable bird calls in the whole of creation; the pure, two-note musicality of a cuckoo in a nearby wood. I loved it; and Ellen's email has filled me with dread that we may actually lose this deeply pastoral and primaeval sound of wildlife forever.
If anyone has the bare-faced gall to suggest that this unfolding disaster has nothing to do with us, they should be clapped in irons and deposited in the most fetid oubliette currently available; I believe there’s a suitable one at Chillingham Castle.
What are we doing wrong? Can we set matters right for the birds? And, as Ellen asks - where on Earth have they all gone?
2 SGTRANE BTU TURE
A truckshunter called Judith sent me this...
Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can raed tihs. Cna yuo? Fi yuo cna, yuo hvae a sgtrane mnid.
i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid! Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are; the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!
BREAKFAST WITH THE STARS
Lawrence and I will be mustered for breakfast at about 0800 this upcoming Wednesday 3 June at Margaret’s Cafe near the mini-roundabout where Two Ball Lonnen meets the West Road in Newcastle. Care to join us?
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