Star Turn

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Sunday 16th January 2000

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ice on puddleshoar frost on grass MUDDY paths have frozen solid. Instead of the customary squelch under my boots the sound is more like walking on concrete. The hoar frost on grass isn't blue, as I've drawn it on my title block, it's more the colour of dried grass seen through translucent ice.

kingfisherstarling and fieldfares I hear a soft chattering call and look over and see the Kingfisher sitting right opposite me, on a bush on the other side of the canal.

goldfinchrobin Fieldfares feed in pastures near the river. A Robin sings from the hedge by a small dairy farm. Three Goldfinches perch on the wires.

To grab attention a Starling starts its performance with a whistle, rather like what used to be called a 'wolf-whistle'; 'peeee-ooouu!'. Its varied song includes a clicking, which sounds as if it is produced at the back of the throat. The rhythm of it reminds me of a witch doctor at work, a shaman shaking a rattle here and there to dispell evil spirits. Having established this exotic rhythmic background the starling then improvises an eccentric series of nasal warblings.

starling Its star-studded plumage glistens in the sun against the clear blue of the morning sky as it perches on the power lines. What a performer!

Richard Bell
Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

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