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The Birds of Britain



Ferocious mini
Bird: your pin-sharp beak ready;
Your stub tail erect.


Skulking deep in the
Heart of the reed-bed; heard but
Seldom seen: boom, boom.


Red-legged, red-billed; high
Above Cornish cliffs among
The gulls and jackdaws.

Green Woodpecker

In the open you
Dip and rise: on rotten tree stumps
You scurry upwards.

Electric blue shock
Flying at full pelt; parting
The ordinary.

Barn Owl

You are quartering
The moonlit meadow - a ghost
With white, silent wings.

Your universe is
This tree trunk where you shuttle
Upwards and downwards.

The blackest of birds:
Black beak, black eyes, black feathers;
Emblem of darkness.


At night a flying
Ghost; by day invisible
Among the bracken.

Blue Tit

You hang upside down
On the bird feeder - pecking
At the red peanuts.


You begin the long
Take-off; your huge wings beating
Against the water.

Marsh Harrier

Above the reed-bed
You perform your manoeuvres
Wheeling and tilting.

Oily, sinister
Snake-bird - resurfacing with
A beak full of fish.


You flutter over
The rooftops - a shimmering
Black and white omen.

Silent sentinel,
Stock-still at the river's edge;
Fish-aware; alert.

The swirling, tilting
Murmuration settles at
Last under the pier

Listen to the song:
Liquid crystal outpouring
High above the field.


Male: phosphorescent
Chestnut-green head. Female: brown
With a green wing fleck.

It is dusk on the
Mudflats; your melancholy
Call hangs in the air.

Jack Snipe

You vanish into
The reed litter - a skulking
Mottled brown spectre.

Yellow Hammer

A little bit of
Bread and no cheese: a little
Bit of bread and no....


You bring the summer
With you - heading northwards on
A wave of warm air.

Folding back your wings
You stoop - freefalling at two
Hundred miles an hour.

Wood Pigeon

You clatter into
The air - a plump, greedy bird
Circling and cooing.
Grey Wagtail

You flit along the
River's edge - a fluttering
Airy, spirit bird.

Hooded Crow

In your natty grey
Waistcoat - you scour the fields for
The dead and dying.
Great White Egret

Vision of whiteness
Against the brown reeds and the
Brown Broadland water.


Close to the cliff you
Circle on straight, unbending
Shallow-beating wings.

Crossing the winter
Field - a red and yellow flock
Twittering sweetly.

Great Tit

At the bird feeder
You are a bully - driving
Off the other tits.

In the fir tree you
Flicker and fidget; your striped
Orange crest flashing.






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