Posted by: Andrew Skelton | 24/10/2012

A Hey Nonny No.

Asiatic Lioness, originally uploaded by

I think I mentioned how, after only 24 hours had elapsed since the end of Reading Festival 2012, I’d bought my ticket for next year’s musical weekend but I think, despite having purchased the ticket, the event organisers might not allow me to go anymore. It’s nothing to do with my age, I’m certainly not the oldest there.. mind you I’m nowhere near the youngest (old enough to be their fathers – a phrase I utter in sheer exasperation each year when I see how young a lot of them look) – no the reason I may have to hand back my 3 day pass is the music I’ve been listening to for the last 3 hours. Admittedly, the album I’ve had on repeat was one I heard whilst at the Festival so I might well be okay but it’s not your average Rock Festival fayre – the band were The Futureheads, the album Rant, an a capella album with a number of traditional folk songs and sea shanties. Such has been my enjoyment of this much more “traditional” album that I might have to forgo the annual Rock pilgrimage and instead venture over to Cambridge who have their own yearly musical get together, but one where much more fair isle and aron is worn – it’s a Folk Festival. I do know they will serve good Real Ale in abundance, something that is sorely lacking at Reading.

Whilst driving around at dusk recently, I noticed a flock of birds dipping and diving; it was of course a Murmuration of Starlings (of course you already knew this was the collective noun for Starlings) but it got me to thinking about a winter migrant that can be mistaken for Starlings when on the wing, Waxwings. It’s one of those species of birds that seems to have caught the publics imagination (or attention) of late, and one that many photographer chase. Whilst it’s still a little early for these birds to venture from their Eastern European homelands, I thought I would do a quick bit of research (yes, Google!) to see whether any had been spotted and already some birds have made their way over to our shores.. admittedly a bit further north than I would like, but they’re on their way. A flock were seen feeding on the 18th October, however it would be a bit of a drive to see them, they were in the Outer Hebrides (Islands off the North West coast of Scotland – a bit far to pop for the afternoon!).

I did happen upon something I found rather surprising whilst researching Waxwing sightings (I do use tools other than Google!). With the dark nights upon us and the cold weather set it, I was rather amazed that quite a number of Swallows are still in the County. I had expected these birds to have already set out on their mind bogglingly 6,000 mile migration down to South Africa, but it would appear that the birds are more than content to stay on here for the moment. There are many doubters about Global Warming, as I’ve said before, but if Swallows ever over winter here, then there would be no doubt that climates had changed. We’d also have to revise the old phrase “One Swallow doesn’t make a summer”


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