I do apologise. I’ve abandoned you in the shed without so much as a word for weeks and weeks, and now the biscuits have run out and you’ve resorted to eating potting compost. As I say, I apologise.
Mitigating circumstance No. 1: I’m writing a book.
Mitigating circumstance No. 2: I’ve been watching birds.
Mitigating circumstance No. 3: Elgar’s Violin Concerto doesn’t conduct itself.
But now I’m here, I’d like to answer your questions and ask a couple of my own.
Firstly, yes the birdwatching is going spiffingly, thank you so much for asking. We were up in Northumberland a couple of weekends ago, and the rest of the year will contain as many and as diverse trips as I can possibly manage in pursuit of those last elusive species. It looks as if it might go to the wire.
Secondly, yes the book is also coming along nicely. It’s by no means finished, of course, mostly because the year it describes is by no means finished. There are substantial chunks of it already written, but also a fair way to go.
One thing I’m interested in is how much people in general know about birds. It’s not that I’m planning to ‘dumb down’ or ‘clever up’ to fit my perceptions of people’s expertise, but it's an interesting bit of casual market research for me, and the intellectual challenge offered by the extremely short quiz below should be just the thing for a Friday afternoon.
So, how far down this list of questions can you get before answering 'no'?
Can you tell the difference between:
1. A bird and a dog?
2. A pigeon and an ostrich?
3. A great tit and a starling?
4. A song thrush and a mistle thrush?
5. A carrion crow and a rook?
6. A silent chiffchaff and a silent willow warbler? (NB the silence is quite important)
7. A first winter herring gull and a first winter yellow-legged gull?
8. A Manx shearwater and a Yelkouan shearwater, from a mile away in dense fog?
Just post below the first question you answered ‘no’ to, with any comments you feel moved to add.
As a reward, have a picture of a black-headed gull abiding by the rules.
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