Why Do Birds Suddenly Disappear?

By Lev Parikian

A lapsed and hopeless birdwatcher’s attempt to see 200 birds in a year

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Questions questions

People have been asking me questions. Here are some of them.

I saw a bird today and wondered if you could help me ident—
It was a jay.

I haven’t told you about it yet.
It was a jay.

It was about the size—
Of a crow, but it had pink bits and looked exotic.

It’s always a jay. People know pigeons, they know crows, they know gulls, tits and parakeets. They don’t know jays, even though they’re also crows, if you see what I mean.

But aren’t crows black?
Yes, but jays aren’t. Nature, eh? Tsk.

Ok, smartypants, what about this other bird I saw. It was—
Hopping around on the pavement in front of you. Bigger than a tit, smaller than a blackbird. Black and white with a bobbing tail. Pied wagtail.

Now you’re just showing off.
I know.

Been watching Sherlock, have you?
Yes, but trying to ignore the completely ridiculous bits.

So where’s this book then?
Mostly on my computer. Partly in my head. It’ll all be transferred from latter to former in the next month, then I send it to Scott.

Who’s Scott?
My editor. Lovely chap. Agrees with my assertion that parakeets are bastards.

They are bastards.
It’s possible they’re not.

Why’s that then?
You’ll have to read the book to find out.

I know. Annoying, isn’t it? It's a big leap of faith, supporting a project like this. But rest assured you'll get it. I have to send it to Scott by March 1st.

So I’ll get it soon after that?
Depends what you mean by ‘soon’. He has to read it, tell me what’s wrong with it, then I have to rewrite those bits, possibly several times, until everything’s oojah-cum-spiff.

Oojah-cum-spiff. Silly word. P G Wodehouse invented it. It means ‘good’.

Well, why don’t you just say ‘good’?
It means more than that, really. I could have said ‘hunky dory’, but I prefer ‘oojah-cum-spiff’. And why would I use a word like ‘good’ when I can use a word like ‘oojah-cum-spiff’?

So when it’s oojah-whatever-you-said, then I get my book?
More or less. It has to be made first. You know, cover design, text design, printing, all that kind of stuff.

But I’ve paid for it!
I know. That was very kind of you and enabled me to write it and Unbound to make it. We thank you for your patience. You are truly a Patron of the Arts.

Ok, one last question. What’s that little scrubby bird over there?
That’s a dunnock. Fascinating sex life, the dunnock.

Really? Tell me about it.
I’m afraid you’ll have to wait for the book.


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Justin Hulford
 Justin Hulford says:

I have no problem identifying jays - loads here. They went away for a few years but seem to be back.

And same for pied wagtails. Including the yellow ones.

posted 20th January 2017

Liz Annal
 Liz Annal says:

It's very important to remember which wagtail is which. Pied ones are black and white, yellow ones are yellow and grey; grey ones are grey and yellow. Don't forget.

posted 20th January 2017

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