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Chuckling Chaffinch

Male Chaffinch

This is one of my favourite songs: it’s so cheerful. It also marks the beginning of spring for me, so today’s male was trying it on a bit, especially because it was very much colder than yesterday. Fringilla coelebs, which means bachelor finch because the females tend to migrate further than the males, who then dominate the northern part of the species’ winter range. Check your garden birds and see if I’m not right.

I logged the bird on the Mariner’s Path, which runs between Portishead Golf Course and Sugar Loaf Beach – so named because it has no sugar, no loaves and God forbid that you should want to sunbathe there. Curious, eh? Perhaps some local historian has a clue to the weird appellation. Appalachian. Hey, a pun lurks there somewhere.

Enough digression. My late winter stint for the BTO Bird Atlas took me to that end of town, which meant I got to count the birds instead of just ticking them. It’s a full-time occupation and the darn creatures don’t keep still, so the job entails some hefty guesswork. Never mind: soon we’ll have so few birds that they’ll be easy to tally.

At least the chaffinch doesn’t yet qualify for that statement, being on the Green List, which means it’s not on the Red or Amber Lists. Red for seriously fucked; Amber for about to be fucked. 52 species on the former; 126 on the latter; 178 in total. Which leaves a somewhat arbitrary safe 68 – a minority anyway.

That’s the sorry state of the world, my friends. Something that only nature observers believe. And it’s why, for example, birding is important. Birders are the guys watching the altimeter as the jet plunges to the ground. No wonder we’re a miserable bunch. Come on, all you others, join in!

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