Today, I thought I’d combine an ode to urban green space with a spot of Citizen Science, but as it turns out I’m far too lazy to get up for a proper Dawn Chorus. I just don’t have the constitution and innate masochism that would consider 5 am as a reasonable time to get up. And so it’s a not-entirely-pathetic 7 am before I bimble (if one can bimble at 7 am) the embarrassingly short distance to my local park.
Larkhall Park, if I’m being brutally honest, doesn’t have a great deal going for it. It appears to be one of those green spaces the local council has earmarked as an important local resource and has thus taken the logical step of tarmac-ing over it and installing ‘facilities’ to enhance this amenity value. But I digress, I was here to talk about birds
I may be late, but the birds are still active and chirping away and there’s a low mist still hanging over the Park like a bad metaphor. It’s the kind of early morning haze that were I of a more artistic persuasion might provoke a particularly verbose elegy. But I don’t generally go in for that sort of thing.
First, I hear the House Sparrows whirring and churring in the climbers by the wall, bombing in and out, back and forth. They’re much more active at this time of day than is decent. They’re not the only ones. It seems the people of Stockwell are also wide-awake, but then I’ve always suspected they are not entirely right-minded round this way.
Robins and blackbirds are, of course, ubiquitous, as are Blue and Great tits. One of the latter appears to be mucking about with his song, throwing in odd ad-libs just to confuse me. They tweet as a young woman walks past, staring at her phone, (this is where, had I been made of sterner stuff, I would not have baulked at making a joke about both using tweets to announce their location and activity. But I didn’t. So that’s all right then). She’s rather emphatically attired for this time of day and I hesitate to say ‘walk of shame’ but…well…
Robins know no shame, though. They’re busy with their back and forth barrage, each declaiming their own hard-earned property and demonstrating their superior vigour and strength to all these other pretender Robins. An early morning exerciser (or, more accurately, lunatic) also stakes out his territory and shows his fitness. He claims the outdoor gym equipment, helpfully installed for those without the imagination to exercise without mechanical aids, as his own. I feel ever so slightly inferior, but also safe in the knowledge that my own choice of bird watching as a past time is much more attractive to the opposite sex. At least, that’s what I’m choosing to believe.
Eastern European men drink their pre-work Zwyskie, but the only avian migrants I hear are a solitary onomatopoeiaic Chiffchaff in the trees, going through its dull repertoire. Seriously, Chiffchaff, change it up once in a while. No Blackcaps yet. I am, thankfully, too early for the rendering screech of the Parakeets (are they ever described as anything other than screeching?).
A mistle thrush lands, lonesome, in the middle of the football pitch, parades around a few seconds, before making for the trees in a bobbing flight, one of the three dogs being walked across the Park giving desultory chase. Goldfinches sit atop a squat tree near the exit. They’re not going through their full twitterings (which, due to some odd connection in my brain, always recalls Tie-Fighters. Don’t ask), they’re merely squeaking back and forth, much as the dogs are grumbling at each other.
The pigeons (all Feral, I think) sit silently, and patiently, in an all-but barren tree that my poor winter tree ID suggests is a completely novel species. They’re waiting, I’ve no doubt, for the old lady who strews a whole loaf of stale white beneath their perch. The less said about that, the better. There’s something sinister about them in this mist – I wonder if they’ll turn on us if she doesn’t arrive on time?
I’m about to leave when I think I hear something utterly baffling and it’s only after I turn my good ear back from whence I came (yeah, ‘whence’) that I pick out the source as yet another one of the peculiar thrums and beeps that periodically emanate from Stockwell bus station. Not for the first time, I think to myself that I’m glad I don’t know what goes on in there (trust me, it’s nothing to do with stationing buses). I’ll leave that to the pigeons. They know something, I’m certain, but they’re not saying a word.