Watch the birdie!

Wednesday 13th May

Parent and baby gannet at Bempton Cliffs

In order to keep us aware of the need to stay at home, we are being confronted day after day with the tragic news of the number of deaths registered as being due to Covid-19. It is perhaps a time to notice also what is happening in terms of births all around us. I don't need to make an actual visit to Bempton Cliffs, near Bridlington, to visualise what will be happening there at present - my collection of thousands of unsorted photos is here to help me.

And I don't need to travel anywhere to hear the sparrows nesting in our guttering or watch the goldfinches, tits and blackbirds collecting seeds, insects and worms for their young. Spring is the best antidote to the disheartening news we are confronted with most days. New life all around us, plants and animals doing what they do best, going forth and multiplying.

We are fortunate enough to have a small garden at the rear of our house and a conservatory to sit in to watch the life and growth so abundant at present. The apple blossom is now over, but the laburnum is in flower and the roses and clematis and paeonies are picking up the baton from the bluebells, aquilegia and primulas.

The birds are grateful for the makeshift birdbaths we have put on the garage roof and their songs are a reminder of their presence, even when we cannot actually spot them. The swifts have returned. We won't be making our intended trip up to Durness this year to see the puffins nesting off the cliffs there, but we do have plenty of action all around to keep us entertained.

Programmes like Springwatch and Countryfile give us a wider view of what is going on: nanny goats giving birth in front of our eyes, red kites increasing at an encouraging rate. For some, less fortunate than those of us in a house with a garden, I guess the TV is the only escape into the wild, although Boris is leaving the front door ajar now! But today is not for politics - it's your rest day from my ranting. Instead, just join my raving about birds and bees and all things bright and beautiful. It may not last!


Here in my garden hut, just on the brink

Of making some new song of all I think,

A sudden thrill and ripple of true song

Makes mockery of my poor pen and ink.

Beyond my hut a vivid glimpse of red:

A bright-eyed robin by the garden bed

Sings his mellifluous and liquid notes,

That utter more than all I’ve ever said.

Three busy sparrows soon take up the song,

Chaffinches and blue tits join the throng,

A pattern of bright music nets the air

And catches me off guard and makes me long,

Long for the joys that I have yet to sing

Long for the sudden flight, the lifting wing,

Long for the songs of summers yet to come

Long for the freedom future days may bring.

Though sorrow runs so deep, and our brief songs

Are burdened still with all the ills and wrongs

Of this sad exile, something in us sings,

Sings from that garden where the soul belongs

Malcolm Guite


Mother, Father God,

We remember all who today are mourning the loss of loved ones,

particularly those who are denied the closeness and touch of family and friends.

We pray for all who are denied the ability to walk freely in the open air.

We rejoice in our ability to see and hear the sounds and sights of Spring in its fulness.

Lift us all into the assurance that even in the midst of death, there is new life,


Juvenile Robin anticipating a bright new waistcoat

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