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Blackbirds at Dawn

Thursday, 21st March 2002, West Yorkshire

blackbird5.10 A.M.; The blackbird's song sounds as if it consists of a question, followed by a pause, followed by an answer to its own question. Something like this;

'Di dum di dum di dee dah?' . . . PAUSE . . . .'di dum di dum de dum. Ripitty tip tip.'

The first phrase rises slightly towards the end as if asking a question. Lying awake - and what choice do I have as this bird seems to be singing within feet of our window - I fancy that the words to the song might be;

'Which bird is the best singer? . . . PAUSE . . . 'It certainly isn't you!'

It seems as if he is adding that rattley phrase at the end as a scathing imitation of his rival's singing ability. More likely, as we are at the start of the season, he's still in the process of improvising his song.

I feel sure that the pause in the middle of the song is there to give him the opportunity to check whether his challenge is being answered by a rival. Plus even a blackbird probably has to stop for breath at some point.

starling It's warm enough for breakfast outside again under blue skies and white cumulus heading east. Despite the loss of one of their number yesterday, starlings are still about. A pair is taking an interest in a hole in the barge-boarding of the house next door. A few minutes later a pair of house sparrows takes a look at this possible nest site.

Easter at Ikea

hedge at Ikea I've just about completed refurbishing my studio so we head off for Ikea near Morley to look at desks. I sit with a coffee, well two coffees, the refill is free, and very briefly sketch the border, with its daffodils and hawthorns in budding leaf, between the store and the busy M62.

It's Påskkärringar at Ikea. In Sweden Easter is celebrated rather like our Halloween. It is said to be the time that the witches fly off on their broomsticks to Blåkulla to eat and drink with the devil. Children go about in suitable disguise for their equivalent of trick or treating. House are decorated with chicks and eggs and Påskris; brightly coloured, feathered birch twigs. next page

Richard Bell
Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

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