Winter Is for The Birds!

Myna_diagram

Today, in class at Bentleigh as we were busy writing our masterpieces, I had to stop and draw my students’ attention to a Noisy Miner balancing on the stem of an orange Grevillea supping the nectar. A few moments before we’d been entertained by his amazing vocals, but to see him up close and concentrating on his lunch, unaware of our scrutiny, was delightful. However, others don’t share my adulation because they can cause havoc and the introduced species are certainly ‘pirates’ when it comes to claiming territory and food.

Grevillea-Orange-Marmalade

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When I spent Christmas in Canada with my oldest daughter, I missed birdsong, and indeed seeing birds. Our feathered friends had literally all flown south to escape winter – and who can blame them for that – especially since the winter of 2013 was Toronto’s worst for many years!

The valiant birds remaining scrounged what they could, excited if someone slipped on the ice and spilt coffee, or dropped their chips! Needless to say, it was the ‘rats of the sky’, pigeons, or resourceful sparrows I saw – no exotic or beautiful species – just ordinary unspectacular birds.

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Although, I don’t think any bird is ordinary and have been fascinated by their behaviour, their resilience, and their many talents for  years. They often appear in my poetry and stories, they are such an essential part of my life, and the life on our planet. I can’t stand seeing birds in cages and must admit Hitchcock’s The Birds, seen as a child has made me wary of too close encounters, but from a respectful distance birds never cease to amaze and earn my admiration.

Marauding Mimics
Mairi Neil

They appear on my lawn,
Like four pirates of old,
Strutting, aggressive,
Noisy and bold.

Fixing beady eyes
On a treasure trove
They push a bit here –
Then give a shove.

They’ve come to this land
from across the sea
The climate they love
And thrive with glee.

They raid and they steal
Do what pirates do best
The Common (Indian) Myna
Has become quite a pest.

Silence Is Golden
Mairi Neil

Darkness outside
says the sun is asleep
We’re snuggled together
In sleep – peacefully deep.

Until there’s a sound
A persistent ‘peep peep’.

Slumber disturbed
Thoughts in disarray
I try to identify the noise
heralding the day.

The sound,
interrupting deep sleep
a soft
persistent
penetrating
‘peep peep’

The sound doesn’t stop
There’s a rhythm too
Like a fairy cobbler
Mending a fairy shoe.

A sound interrupting deep sleep
a soft ‘peep peep’

‘It’s coming from outside,’
A husky comment from you
‘Or is it the smoke detector –
replacement batteries due?’

A sound interrupting deep sleep
a persistent peep peep

‘It can’t be a bird,’ you say,
‘dawn’s still breaking.
If a feathered friend
it needs a darn good shaking.’

That sound interrupting deep sleep
a penetrating ‘peep peep’

There are habits and rules
For bird behaviour and song
the paramount one being
Song must wait ’til dawn.

That sound, interrupting deep sleep
a soft
persistent
penetrating
‘peep peep’

Days turned into weeks
night’s passing disturbed –
our discovery – the noise
most definitely a bird!

An ornithologist confirmed
when the world is still dark
‘peep peep’ is the calling card
of the cheeky Mudlark.

‘Peep Peep’

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Winter’s Song
Mairi Neil

It’s winter time,
The nights are long.
Oh, how I ache
For joyful birdsong.

The winter sun’s glow
Absent of heat
Stirs memories of snow,
Rain, hail and sleet.

It’s winter time
The nights are cold
Oh, how I love
Flames bright and bold.

Melbourne’s winter
Cold, it’s the coldest day
Smog-bound, fogbound
Peasouper grey.

It’s winter time
The night’s are drear
Oh, come on Spring
I want you near.

Blustery August blows
July’s temperatures warm
The stirrings of Spring
As new life forms.

It’s winter time
The nights are long
Oh, how I ache
For joyful birdsong.

This winter Melbourne has broken a few records apparently – it certainly has been a cold one – roll on spring and, I never thought I’d say it, the wattlebirds feasting on my Grevillea!

Winter Blues!
Mairi Neil

Today, it felt like winter
Cold air penetrated winter woollies
Chilled the bones
Numbed the fingers and toes
Froze ears and nose.

The grey aluminium sky
Promised rain and then
Sent it in buckets and sheets
Hailstones the size of golfballs
Cats and dogs scurried to safety.

Torrential rain pounded the windows
Bounced off the pavements
Saturating surrounds until
Puddles became pools, water
Thrown into the air by passing cars.

The wind howled at these waves
Wrestled with trees, snapped their branches
Shifted roof tiles; rattled windows
Blew under doors, lifted carpets
Whistled down hallways.

Gusts grabbed the rainwater
Dashed it against walls
Determined to inflict maximum damage
Outbursts escalated as Mother Nature’s
Children fought and grumbled

People struggled to stay upright
Umbrellas flapped inside out
Windscreen wipers seized up
And gutters not knowing whether
To drown or smother debris
Came to a standstill.

Today winter threw a tantrum and won.

Haiku by Mairi Neil

Cliff top turbulence
An explosion of feathers
Gulls blown out to sea

Pelican perches
Atop electricity pole
Fishing boats bring lunch

Pelicans leave pier
aerial acrobatics
Sightseers enjoy the show

Do birds play a part in your writing, or give you inspiration?

3 thoughts on “Winter Is for The Birds!

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