Wednesday, 18 May 2016

The chiffchaff and other boring birds!

I have heard a chiffchaff in the garden for the first time in 19 years. No prizes for guessing how it got its name. It's completely onomatopoeic: all it says is 'chiff-chaff' over and over again. It certainly wouldn't be top of the garden birdsong charts.

The great tit has an equally boring song. My name for it is 'the creaky gate bird' because it sounds exactly like a gate with squeaky hinges swinging in the breeze.

My mother's least favourite bird, as far as voices are concerned, was the collared dove. She cursed the woman from three doors down who had a bird table and encouraged the doves, which then sat in the surrounding trees, making their three-note booming call.

Unlike Mum, I find their song quite interesting. In fact, there was one that I christened 'Bastard Bird' because it sounded as if it was shouting, "You bastard!" over and over again. And that's the thing about collared doves; they do go on... and on... and on. They must bore themselves to sleep!

From time to time, various bird organisations ask us to pick our favourite songbird. The nightingale, song thrush, blackbird and robin are often mentioned but I have never seen the wren featured on the lists. I don't know why, because it has an amazing song. Piping, piercing, melodic, and syncopated with a regular chirring sound. And then there is the sweet piping of the goldfinch, like someone plinking on a faery xylophone.

It's about time someone launched a competition to find Britain's Most Boring Bird! I'd vote for the chiffchaff. Sorry, mate!


Jackie Sayle said...

My chap would agree with you about the chiffchaff - they seem to follow him around the country (he's a long-distance lorry driver) and they drive him mad. My Mum would agree with yours about the collared dove. I find most bird sounds interesting, from the machine-gunning sound of the magpie to the tumbling tune of the skylark. And, as you already know, I hear 'words' in most bird calls. Blame my late father for that - it was him that first told me the yellow hammer sitting on the telegraph wire was saying,'A little bit of bread and no cheese'. It's his fault I've got a blackbird in my garden constantly telling me what 'a lovely boy' he is and pigeons telling me 'it isn't funny'. Mum's garden boasts a blackbird constantly asking, 'Where's me lipstick?' Of course, all this nattering doesn't just stop at birds - cats do it, too. Our old cat, used to say,'I'll' 'ave you!' when arguing with intruder cats and would run after me when I went out, saying, 'Oh no! Don't go!' :)

hydra said...

Sounds as if your parents and mine had a lot in common! My dad also told me about 'a little bit of bread and no cheese'. I wish I could remember what the garden birds of our childhood used to 'say'. Charlie actually says "Hello"!