This selection of poetry conveys the author's passion for birds, co-inhabitants of our world, whose appearance, voice and behaviour, especially flight, continue to inspire. This book will appeal to all who delight in seeing wild birds in a natural setting, whether in the garden or park or as an integral part of the landscape. The poems concern birds from a wide variety of places around the world, - from the woods of England and the mountains of Arizona to the forests of a Caribbean island and the wild southern oceans, home of the Wandering Albatross.
At the Water’s Edge, Birds of Marsh and Lake, Blackbird’s Son, Blackcap, The Bullfinch, Caribbean Swallows, Reluctant Spring, Dawn Chorus, Dippers, Don’t Shoot the Coot, Fat Wood Pigeons, For the Birds, Frigate Birds, Green Mood Bird and the Herald of Spring, Hummingbirds, Land of Song, Little Tern, Magpies, May, Music of the Finches, The Peacock, Pearly-Eyed Thrasher, Peregrine, Seagulls, Skylark 1, Skylark 2, Song Thrush Song, Starlings, Stars in the Western Sky, Swallows, Swifts, The Cuckoo, The Dunnock, The Gathering, The Known Bird (Lament for a black songster), The Wren, The Rain and the Wrens, The Swan, At the Threshold of Spring, Unknown Heroes, Wandering Albatross, Weather for Ducks, Ode to a Great Crested Grebe, Bird Words?, Winter Visitors, Birds and Trees, Evening, The Black Redstart, The Song Thrush and the Sycamore, Six White Swans
“A paperback of poems by a poet and professional biologist, reminding us that wild birds continue to inspire and delight in a host of different ways.” Robert (Rob) Hume, RSPB, ornithologist, author and journalist
“This delightful book highlights the importance of birds to the British psyche. We are pleased that sales will benefit the work of the BTO, and hence Britain's birds.” Dr. Nick Carter, PhD, scientist and Former Development Director, British Trust for Ornithology
“The poems are a delight to read; a good change from some modern poetry which has hard inanimate topics.” J. Hutchinson, Woodbridge, Suffolk
“It is delightful!” A. Bingham, Brockenhurst, Hants., UK
About Swifts: “…a really superb poem.” Dr. Charles A. Foster, PhD, English writer, traveller, veterinarian, taxidermist, barrister and philosopher, Senior Research Associate at the Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics and Fellow of Green Templeton College, University of Oxford, 9 December, 2015
Glad bird of the wide blue yonder,
Often have I stopped to ponder,
And look toward that speck up high,
Lost link between earth and sky.
No bough or branch does he require,
Only the lofty stars does he aspire,
To cling and sing at the edge of space,
And claim his throne and jibe his race.
The aerial spectacle,
Begun in May,
Continues throughout June, July
And on into August In the clear pastel skies
Above town and English countryside;
Slick, curved black shapes,
To cut and scythe
The sunlit air,
They swoop down ‒
Single, in formation or in line ‒
With effortless speed and grace,
Rolling, twisting, occasionally shrill screaming
As they come to distribute death
Amongst the tiny, winged multitudes below.
But these are not the Spitfires, Hurricanes
Or Messerschmitts of old,
And the destruction they cause
Not the vengeance of a cruel war.
Rather, a perennial struggle
To feed, reproduce
And fly free again.
One that, maybe, will never end ‒
Assuming the spring and they return ‒
Year after year,
Long into the unimagined future,
Beyond human strife and bombs,
So that this most joyous scene shall remain,
The Swifts in full chase or play,
A certainty, a must
Each May ...
And on into August.
Slender companion of the arching winds,
How stiff you ride the truculent gale
On long wings;
How you glide
Just above the water’s grasp,
The deep turquoise,
Split by milk-white spume,
Torn to shreds by the frigid, rampant air…
You pace on relentlessly,
Coasting, veering, steering
Your rapid course home.
Never a glance backwards
Across the empty vastness
Of the southern seas.
Lonely, so lonely, you ply
This strange odyssey.
What do you consider all
These empty hours,
When even sleep is snatched
Between the troughs of huge swells?
What inspires you when you awake,
To focus on the shifting, unruly
Clouds above, the weak sun obscured,
Fog, the crescent moon,
Or the awesome, incomprehensible
Field of stars?…
On you wing your way,
Traverse the near endless miles,
Round the globe…
To test its endurance,
And its rotundity…
And then, one day,
Perhaps brilliant April green, -
The strong pastel light formed In the east
As the sun awakes,
Land is seen.
At first, faintly, shadowy, obscure.
Later, as the minutes slip by,
With the wind rustling past
Your crisp feathers of wing and tail,
Less distant, more solid.
An island, an amorphous rock
Protruding unique above
The flatness of the horizon.
Land of your birth,
Half a century before,
And land too of your mate,
Many days since last seen.
Guardian of that large cream pearl
In its strange raised nest;
Investment for your kind…
And all our futures…
Our legacy, yet a paradox;
As hopeless in its geometry
As a spent bullet,
Soon it will hatch,
Ultimately to yield
A being that even the gods
Must surely envy…
Except for its prolonged,