Bird Life, Human Life

The important news over the weekend was that the RSPB conducted its annual survey of garden birds, wherein householders are encouraged to sit and look out at their back gardens for an hour and record all of the birds that alight in that time.

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Originally I downloaded the app for my children, thinking we might manage an equitably division of the hour. But in the event I was left to get on with on my own. I managed to chose an inauspicious hour – the last hour of daylight on Sunday, with the sun setting behind my garden so that all the birds I saw were in silhouette; not that there was much going on.

My list ran as follows: 16 sparrows, 3 blackbirds, 5 starlings, 4 wood pigeon (two of which didn’t move almost the entire hour; I think they were roosting or dead, but there wasn’t a field on the form for that), 3 collared doves, 1 song thrush, 1 magpie, 1 jay.  I think the sparrows were the same little gaggle of three or four just doing their rounds. I suppose the RSPB has algorithms to account for that. I also spotted two cats (belonging to the neighbour); perhaps they have algorithms for that too. And at one point I saw about twenty starlings flying around over my garden, and found myself hoping they didn’t land in my chestnut tree. I don’t suppose they have an algorithm for laziness.

Other than that it was a stress-free hour. To be honest, an hour spent sitting in a chair looking out at the garden is not the worst way I can think of to spend my time. I got a little bit of idle thinking done, listened to some music, and learnt how to tell a dunnock from a sparrow (all in the beak, evidently).

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In other news, Cambridge United held Manchester United to a draw on Friday, outplaying them for long periods in the first half. They will now go back to Old Trafford, the soi-disant Theatre of Dreams, for a replay. The new even made the New York Times (here).

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