This week, whilst continuing my with my mythology theme, the format of the post is slightly different. To explain, I had intended to group together a number of birds, and highlight the myths & legends associated with them, starting with the ALBATROSS. Now, the Albatross is not surrounded so much by myth & legend, but more by superstition, and I thought it would be interesting to explore the background to that superstition, so yet again, I crave your indulgence!!

SHORT-TAILED ALBATROSS

The popular superstition associated with the Albatross is due largely to SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE’s poem THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER. A few days prior to my trip to Mull, I was in Waterstone’s in Liverpool, browsing through a few poetry books when I came across a collection of Coleridge’s poems. Not being under any time constraints, and never having read the Rime Of The Ancient Mariner, I bought a coffee, settled down in a comfy chair, and set about reading the poem. It’s of epic proportions (VERY long!) but I was enthralled, and completely drawn into this fascinating tale of misdeed, misadventure, and misfortune!!

ILLUSTRATION OF THE ANCIENT MARINER BY GUSTAVE DORE

The poem is written as the narrative of a sailor, just returned from a lengthy voyage. He stops a man who is on his way to attend a wedding, and begins to relate the story of his adventures, or more accurately, his MISadventures!! The man’s reactions to this range from bemusement, impatience, fear, and fascination, as the Mariner gives his account!

The basic premise of the story is that of the Mariner’s ship being blown off course, ending up in Antarctica. An Albatross appears, and leads them away from Antarctica, and from the ice and mist. For this, the Albatross is praised by the crew, but tragically, the Mariner shoots down the bird with an arrow (“With my cross-bow/I shot the albatross”) The crew are angry with the Mariner, for they believe the Albatross brought with it the wind which would steer them away from Antarctica, but their minds are soon changed when the weather changes dramatically, and becomes much warmer and they escape the shroud of mist. (“Twas right, they said, such birds to slay/that bring the fog and mist”) The crime of shooting the Albatross however, incurs the wrath of the spirits who follow the ship, and in time the southerly wind that led them from the cold, now takes them into uncharted waters, where all becomes calm, with not a breath of wind with which to fill the sails.

Day after day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion,
As idle as a painted ship,
Upon a painted ocean

And then the lines everyone will be familiar with:

Water, water, everywhere
And all the boards did shrink,
Water, water everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink

STATUE IN WATCHET, SOMERSET

Now the crew change their outlook yet again, holding the Mariner responsible for their raging thirst. Tormented, they force the Mariner to wear the body of the dead bird around his neck as a burden of punishment for his crime.
“Ah well a-day, what evil looks/had I from old and young,
Instead of the cross, the Albatross/around my neck was hung”

Now the story takes on a slightly eerie and sinister veneer, as the ship meets a “ghost ship” aboard which are DEATH (a skeleton) and the NIGHTMARE, LIFE-IN-DEATH (a deathly pale woman) They are playing dice for the souls of the crew – DEATH wins the lives of the crew, and LIFE-IN-DEATH the Mariner, which she considers the higher prize. Her name is given as a clue to the Mariner’s fate, as he is about to endure a fate worse than death in punishment for his foolish haste in killing the Albatross.

One by one, the crew all eventually die, but the Mariner remains alive, and for 7 days and nights, is haunted by the curse in the eye’s of the crew’s dead bodies. In time, he sees some creatures swimming near the ship, and despite having described them earlier in the poem as “slimy things” (“Yea, slimy things did crawl with legs/upon the slimy sea”), the curse is lifted for a while as he now sees their real beauty, and proceeds to give them blessing (“a spring of love gush’d from my heart and I bless’d them, unaware”) Whilst he prays, the dead Albatross slips from his neck, and his guilt partly expiated. Possessed by good spirits, the bodies of the crew are returned to life, and sail the ship back to land, whereupon it sinks in a whirlpool, leaving only the Mariner behind. A hermit, watching as the ship approached, came, along with a pilot and his boy, to meet the Mariner in a boat – thinking him dead as they haul him out of the water, the pilot has a fit as he opens his mouth to speak, and laughs madly, and assuming him to be the devil, says “The Devil knows how to row”

As full penance for killing the Albatross, the Mariner is cursed to roam the earth, relating his tale to everyone he should meet along the way, with, as a lesson, these words:

He prayeth best, who loveth best
All things both great and small,
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all.

And so, his story complete, the Mariner makes his way, and the wedding guest returns home to sleep. He awakes the next day “A sadder, but wiser man”

He went like one that hath been stunned,
And is of sense forlorn,
A sadder, and a wiser man,
He rose the morrow morn.

The poem is seen by many as a Christian allegory, by some as having a moral. Others regard it as semi-autobiographical of Coleridge himself, based on his own experiences. Me? I just think it’s a fantastic poem!! Yes, it’s incredibly long, some would say tedious, for it was heavily criticised by such as Wordsworth, in it’s day, but it’s a great tale, whatever your outlook on it’s basis.

ALBATROSS AT SEA

For me, the Albatross evokes images of loneliness, as it spends so much of it’s life at sea, travelling thousands of miles riding the various weather systems, following ships – perhaps immortalised by Coleridge’s longest poem, it will surely be forever associated with sailors, a harbinger of good fortune, lest anyone is foolish enough to shoot one down!
Perhaps not imbued with quite the same mythical status as the other birds I’ve included in this series of posts, the Albatross nevertheless, is a fascinating bird, steeped in superstition, and deserves it’s place in the mythology & legends of birds. It’s enigmatic nature only serves to enhance, and deepen the mystery attached to it

I saw the poem as the best way in which to illustrate the Albatross’ air of mystery, I hope you’ve been able to bear with me, as it’s a slight diversion from the path I usually take in my posts. I hope too, that you may have enjoyed another look at the myth & folklore of birds that so captures my imagination.

The Dyfi Osprey Project and the Scottish wildlife Trust  have kindly given their permission for us to post still and video images from their webcams. To visit their sites please click on the relevant link.
Loch of the Lowes.  Dyfi Osprey Project.

 

171 Responses to BIRDS IN MYTHOLOGY (5) THE ALBATROSS

  1. Hi NICK well that was a fascinating account of the Albatross and the story of the Ancient Mariner! I have of course heard of it and knew those familiar lines but didn’t know the whole story and you have condensed it beautifully for us! The Albatross has always been one of my favourite seabirds and indeed the Wandering Albatross – being in danger from fishing lines etc. – has been the subject of an ongoing campaign by the RSPB to get those long line fishing nets banned. Thank you for bringing its history myth and legend to our village weekend page – once again you have done us proud!
    Now its 1.15 a.m. so I must get to bed – nite nite anyone still up – see you over the weekend….love, Jill xx

  2. Good Morning Villagers
    Brilliant post Nick this morning. I only knew the most famous part of the Ancient Mariner. I have never read it all. Thank you for explaining it in your own wonderful way. It made it a lot easier to understand. The Albatross certainly deserves its place in Myths and Legends. A truly magnificent bird. A fascinating account Nick, thank you. xxx
    Thinking of you Susan – hope your are feeling a bit better this morning xxx
    For all those feeling under the weather – get well soon xxx

    IT IS THE LAST DAY FOR CAPTIONS, CLOSES AT MIDNIGHT TONIGHT, JUST PM OR EMAIL ME XXX

    http://ladyoftheloch.co.uk/caption-competition-week-4-1022012/comment-page-2/#comment-79410

  3. Good morning villagers,
    Nick – I will read your post later, when I get back from a walk this morning.
    It’s in a wood, so will be a bit sheltered from the cold and a new place for me. There have been recent sightings of Crossbills, so fingers crossed, because this would be a first.
    Love to all,
    Julie xxx

    • Hope you have a good day and get back before the snow arrives!
      Look forward to your photos
      Marion x

    • OoooooooooH Julie wrap up warm! Its bitter cold here too and predicted snow this afternoon and overnight so I might, just might mind you, go out tomorrow and get some snowy photos lol but only if the sun is shining!
      Hope you see your crossbills – would be a first for me too as I don’t think they come this far south usually! Good luck and stay warm!

  4. NICK – great post this morning – the albatross is a magnificient bird, but, as Jill mentioned, there have been greeat losses with the longline fishing hooks. but hopefully this might help:
    http://www.rspb.org.uk/news/297856-measures-to-protect-uk-albatrosses-get-them-off-the-hook-in-the-nick-of-time

    Do hope your Mum is continuing to feel a bit better.
    Husband was going to open his bottle of precious Port Ellen Single Malt today (65th birthday), but had to have a tooth out on Thursday and told not to drink for a few days! Oh dear.
    Marionx

    • Thanks Marion for finding the link to the RSPB and long fishing lines – I thought if anyone could find one it would be you! the Albatross is a truly magnificent bird and should be protected at all costs!
      Oh dear poor hubby having a tooth out! Hope he feels better soon and can enjoy his Malt!

    • Happy 65th Birthday to Marion’s husband Birthday-Boy
      I’m sure you’ll enjoy the single malt when you get permission to drink it!

    • Wow, hang on a minute, do not deny him his birthday drink, it will do him good, will not make it worse, unless he is on Warfarin.
      Happy Birthday to Marion’s hubby, you go ahead and enjoy a glass or three of your favorite tipple.
      E xx

    • Ups I think I might have just cought the report user with button with my finger when I really wanted to say happy birthday Marion’s husband. So sorry Marion if I did.

  5. Nick, I was captivated by your Post today about the Albatross and The Anciant Mariner, I shall be looking the Poem up and reading it no matter how long it is. however, I will have to do that tonoght as I am Helping a College of mine with a charity bucket collection at Tesco in Bathgate, she is 63 and in two week she is climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in a couple of week for the Tesco Alzhimer’s appeal, and knowing Jennifer she will run up it.
    I Hope everyone is well today, and those of you who are suffering will find release from your pins soon. I will catch up with you all later. xx

    • Good Luck with the Collection Elaine, and best wishes to Jennifer in her forthcoming challenge.
      Glad you had a Good day at the Lowes, will look at your Pics. later.
      Smashing shot of the Queens View, Loved it up there since I was a kid, we used to have Picnics there in the 60’s, the area has changed but not the Amazing View. xxx

  6. Post from Dyfi:
    “Dyfi Osprey Project
    If you have a spare few minutes, please have a look at the fb page for the Kartong Bird Observatory. Colin Cross and the team are doing incredible work monitoring and recording birds in The Gambia. Including the odd sighting of #12, the Lake District Osprey chick from 2010. Thanks, Janine.”
    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Kartong-Bird-Observatory/281470088535159

  7. Good morning, all
    NICK – what a fantastic post again today. I really enjoyed reading about the albatross. As Jill says, the lines from the poem are very familiar, but most of the rest of the post was new to me. Thanks for all your hard work.

    Well, I’ve had an exciting morning already. My neighbour told me that we had a flock of birds on the holly tree between our gardens yesterday – she guessed they might be fieldfare.
    So I looked out and saw about 40 birds in a tree a few houses away

  8. A few minutes later some of the birds came to the holly tree, and I could see a red flash under one’s wing, so took this photo.
    Is it a redwing and a fieldfare? I thought the one at the front was a thrush, but I’m not good on bird ID so would value some expert opinion.

    • Joyce what wonderful photos – yes the fieldfare is the one in the front on your holly tree and the other one with the eyestripe is the redwing. Lucky you seeing such a huge flock!!

      • Hi Joyce and Jill,
        Certainly the one at the back is a Redwing but not sure the other is a Fieldfare – it looks more like a Song Thrush to me but I expect the rest of the flock were a mixture of Redwing and Fieldfare. This cold weather may see more flocks moving into gardens xx

        • Jacks I see what you mean about maybe a song thrush but I thought fieldfare because of its lighter wing colour and slight blush to the wing and the yellowy beak – its also a very fat for a thrush although he could be fluffing out his feathers!! And also don’t thrushes have darker markings on their chest feathers? Could be either I think – the jury’s out! lol

          • I’m not convinced Jill – Fieldfare have a much greyer head and rump – I’m sticking with Song Thrush!!

            • Jack – l’m with you on Song Thrush, Fieldfare have more Grey colouring. Sorry Jill x

  9. Nick you have taken me back to secondary school this morning. We did the Rime of the Ancient Mariner. I must admit that I couldn’t begin to say on here what we all thought of it at that age. I’m sure the sheer length of it filled us with complete dread. I just remember our English teacher ~ Miss Gibbs/Mrs Deans, shouting at us that we had no choice as part of our exam was on the poem. Could have seen it far enough, will maybe give it another try, now that I’m older and maybe a little wiser!
    It’s a cold, wet, miserable day here today. Hope everyone has a good day xx

    • Interesting Fiona, I thought SWT didn’t like our girl being referred to as “Lady” she is normally “the resident female” I for one, can hardly wait! xx

      • I was just a tad concerned at this bit “The webcam which sits beside the eyrie will undergo a thorough service next month to ensure that the first glimpse of any returning bird of prey will be RECORDED for all to see.” What do you make of that? Am I reading too much into it?

    • Thanks for that Fiona, do hope Lady returns. Remember last April when she was in the Air for ages when we were there…..Oh roll on March xx

      • How could I forget that day ~ one of the most magical days. I was cursing I’d left my camera and my phone at home!! Will not make that mistake again!

  10. Hello villagers from a cold and frosty Essex. I have a few minutes before I have to to out to the podiatrist to get my claws clipped etc. lol then do a bit of shopping etc. and go to the post office before the weather turns – we’re supposed to get snow this afternoon, evening and overnight! Yet another forecast I heard said RAIN would spread from the west and Sunday would be a lovely sunny day!! Oh well, we will get what we get I suppose! Still I am not chancing it so will get everything outside done this morning!
    I’ve just about caught up with all the posts since I last logged on – its so difficult when I read things on the village at work and can’t comment or reply as my work comp won’t let me log on – probably a good thing or I would never get any work done! Then when I get home especially these past few days its been too cold to sit up here at the computer so I get all behind like the cow’s tail.
    Anyway just to say thank you for all your posts and to everyone who has put up such beautiful photos – Brian your ducks never cease to thrill me as I love all their different colours – and was it Jacks who put up the Pochard yesterday? They were stunning! I see a few of them all the time on a particular lake in the Lea Valley but never as many as those – but I did see hundreds of Wigeon there on my bird walk the other week – a similar colour with the chestnut head but not as bright, and of course they have a blue beak unlike the pochard who has a striking red beak!!
    Thanks again also to Marion for the wonderful links – where do you find them all! I will get round to reading more of them later.
    SUSAN your aawful ordeal at the dentist!! I dont know how you cope! I do hope your dentist can alleviate the pain for you – it must be just horrendous and you are so very brave – sending hugsssss your way……..and anyone else needing hugs just dive in…..
    Right its time to get ready to go so I will say bye for now – bye for now and keep warm …love Jill xxx

  11. Good Morning All. Nick, such a brilliant post and so interesting. I may shock you here by admitting I don’t ever remember reading the Ancient Mariner – not even in school, so you have me hooked. xx

  12. Hi all,
    Nick – that was a great Post this morning. You really captured the feel for the poem and précised it perfectly. I do know the poem but had forgotten most of it so it was an enjoyable read. Thank you for your special talents.

    When I was in Norfolk last week one of our party had recently come back from Antarctica – I think I told you he had seen Emperor penguins but he had also seen a number of species of Albatross and showed me some of his pictures. – stunning birds just amazing.

    It is clouding up here so we may get the snow that has been forecast.
    Off with dogs now – see you later.

  13. Hi all – just back from the podiatrist and feet and toeses feel much more comfy now. Of to the post office and to get a prescription filled so back later. Brrrrrr its very cold out!

  14. Good morning all. Nick such an interesting post again, shopping calls so will
    read it more thoroughly later, in the meantime I will dig out my tapes of the
    Ancient Mariner recited by Richard Burton, such a lovely voice and then read
    your post again!
    Scrolling down I noticed there is some discussion as to Joyce’s ‘Thrush’. Just
    wondered as JILL thought it may be a Fieldfare what you think Jill of the one
    I posted the other day, believing it to be a Thrush, but looks somewhat fat for
    one. Dx

      • I just had this reply from my friend Nick from DWT
        Hi Joyce: the second photo shows a redwing in the background and a song thrush at the front.
        Redwings have that long white stripe above the eye (and red flanks) and are just smaller than a blackbird. Fieldfares are much bigger, have grey heads and rumps and dark brown mantle and wings.
        Song and mistle thrushes are sometimes difficult to separate, with similar plumage, though songs are blackbird sized but mistles are much bigger. Mistles tend to be aggressive and chase other thrushes off berries (I see you’ve a good crop of holly berries left – no wonder the thrushes are at em!).

      • Thanks Jack, I did think the other day it was, we see so few these days I was thrilled.
        First time in ages too we have a pair of blackbirds who seem to be looking where to
        build their nest.There has been a lot of activity in our Bay tree near the back door so
        it would be lovely to have babies there. They don’t seem fazed by Rosie either.
        Dx

  15. Afternoon Villagers.
    Firstly, EILEEN, I hope your poor head isnt too bruised after your fandango in Morrisons with Winalot.
    SUSAN, you poor soul. I do hope you are getting good pain relief, and that the antibiotics have kicked in.
    What I cant understand is why they put new plates in as soon as teeth come out? The gums/mouth are bound to be swollen. 2 friends of mine had the same sort of problem, and when the swelling`s went down the plates were loose, and had to be adjusted.
    CHRISSY, I understand you are still not well. I do hope you soon start to feel better
    (((HUGS))) to you three.

    NICK, like others, I knew the most popular part of the Mariner, so thank you for a great informative post.

    MARION, thank you for the links. I do read most of them.
    ELAINE, loved your reports from Lowes.
    To anyone else I have missed, apologies, but concentration has`nt been up to scratch this past week, but I am getting there.
    I havent been posting since the end of last week as I had a milder dose of the Village lurgy grab me last Friday. So I lurked. Could have done with a ” horse`s nosebag stuffed with tissues” for the first 2 days. I was very lucky this time that it didnt affect my sinus`s. Consequently, I slept really well. I also felt a lot better out in the fresh air.
    Washing machine just finished last load, so will go and sort it out. Will pop back later. Have a good day all, and those going out, wrap up warm.

    • I thought you may have been busy with your Newsletters! Sorry you were poorly but sounds like you are over the worst of it now. Wrap up well if you go outside – it is bitterly cold here xxx

    • Well, if you have enough energy for the washing, you must be well on the mend, Lorna.
      Hope you are soon feeling more like yourself. xxxx

      • FIONA, JACKS JOYCE. I am a lot better thank you. I ate well, keeping off the dairy products, cheese, and,cream etc, also biscuits, cakes, and pastries. My milk is skimmed so ok there, but had plenty of fluids.
        JACKS, I was busy with the News Letters. I was so much better out in the fresh air delivering them last weekend, chasing me nose at the same time (not easy).
        9 on the Committee, at the moment, and each of us deliver to our own area.
        JOYCE, my washing machine does it for me, I sort it out and bung it in. I do it once a week, 3/4 loads. Last is in the tumble dryer now. Delicates on the clothes horse in front of the radiator.
        We had a slight snow shower earlier today, then it went to drizzle. It does look as though the damp ground is starting to freeze though.
        No Bookings for the Rooms this weekend, so my time is my own, and I am making the most of it.
        Went to post some mail this morning and met friends with their dogs. Well, German Shepherds are taller than me upon their hind feet, and their greeting is absolutely overboard. I always take me glass`s off when I see them advancing towards me, and get tissues out ready. Its the same with Hamish the Border Terrier. You`d think they hadnt seen me in months.

        ANN, hoping your Mums results are good when she gets them.I also hope Heather`s leg is healing nicely.
        NICK, so pleased to see your Mum is now doing well. Long may it continue for her and you.
        MARION, Happy Birthday to your Husband.
        ANGELA, I think it was your Husband that had an op on his eye. Hope everything is going well for him.
        SHIRLEY, fingers crossed for a smooth house move for you.
        LINDA, We are all thinking of you and your family.
        Lovely lot of photos today, and this past week.

    • Glad you are feeling better now Lorna and have been able to dip in and out of the village.
      Don’t be in a rush to venture out, its freezing!!
      Dx

  16. Good Morning All, Great Mythology Post about the Albatross Nick, like a few other Villagers I only remember certain bits of “The Ancient Mariner”, do remember from school the Rhyme seemed to go on forever. I will reread later.
    I am relieved to hear that your Mum is back to normal. xxx
    Thought of you yesterday, my Brother is off to the Rugby at Murrayfield, and guess whats in his hipflask, yes your favourite, and he told me yesterday the correct pronunciation. Looking out the window he’ll need it for heat…Good Luck Scotland…..
    Susan: Thinking of you, hope the pain has eased. xxx
    ANN and SHIRLEY, Moves are so stressful, so hope all goes to plan for you Both. xxx
    Have a Good Safe Day All, and those who are ill are on the road to Recovery. xxx

  17. Good afternoon one and all. Thankyou for a fantastic post Nick – the first bird I ever loved – and my all-time favourite poem. Have had my copy, many, many years – unlike Fiona my english teacher could never shut me up and cursed the day my mother introduced me to this wonderful ‘ book ‘ of a poem. I am all caught up and see our roving reporter (Lainey) has been at Lowes for us…… are we all ready, not long now. Eileen please be careful, we know Winealot is full of goodies for our doggies, but it’s not meant to be crashed against one’s skull!, well done Morrison’s – must confess I have already gravitated back, at least at our ‘local’ the shoppers apologise if they ‘accidently’ bump into you – unlike our Asda where people deliberately try to ram you out of the way!.
    I have just crossed Cumbria off our visits for this year (thankyou for bringing it to village attention Marion), not only are the Windermere wardens talking about culling WILD migrant geese – they are talking 200, sorry folks, HOW BLOODY DARE THEY!!!.
    SUSAN love I hope this is the last lot of pain for you – hopefully all gone in time for next month, so you can enjoy our Lady’s return, and of course our dear Laird.
    Like you Jan, I am an optomist, but I feel it in my bones that Leri and Bynack are ‘safe’, and that means ALIVE.
    Annb – poor Heather, brave girl, probably, instinct, outrage and adrenalin ‘drove her’ to chase the burglar, thankfully it was only a window that got her. I hope she is not too sore at this point.Hope your mum is okay too. Chrissy love get well soon, like me you must be hoping that the birds use the same flightpath as last year, I can’t wait now (like a kid in a sweetshop).
    Dear Irwin, lets hope that common sense prevails soon; it’s obvious the Japanese government will not back down, and the Dutch government as always put trade before citizens rights – I for one have banned all dutch and japanese products ( as well as Kendal mint cake!) from my front door.xxx

    • Hi Shirley, like you was outraged when I read about the cull of Canada Geese. We
      usually stop off in the Lakes on our way up it is such a good half way point for us,
      but wonder now whether we should support them this year!
      Trust you are now feeling better and no more accidents with the four legged variety!
      Dx

  18. Afternoon all, well I won’t be hanging about….sorry, barnet to wash! Have read a bit of Nick’s post, will continue later, also read a few comment, too many to at moment, but I did vote Jan, very clever!!
    E x B4N =Bye for now.

    • Hope you are recovering after your little bit of excitement in Morrison’s yesterday, Eileen. I’m glad to hear that they looked after you there. xxx

  19. Good afternoon everyone.
    NICK great post today. SUSAN get well soon……..we need you Wink
    We have proper snow here now so wont be venturing out anywhere.

    Hugs to those who need them Heart

  20. The words that were said about Jackie were so touching yesterday. To the next of kin –
    “Be gentle with yourself and when others want to help, let them look after you.”

    I was so pleased to meet up with Denise also. Those of us that have met up with on-line friends will know how that feels.

  21. I am back from my walk. Well did I or did’nt I see the Crossbills? Will reveal the answer later.
    But first and much more exciting for me is this little bird

    It’s my Waggie one foot from last winter. I saw him in the garden again yesterday for the first time this year. I was not sure it was him until today when I got back from my walk. I had put out lots of mealworms this morning and there he was, tucking in as he did last year. It’s amazing to think he has survived with his handicap. If you look at his left foot, it is actually clubbed. I like to think the mealworms he ate last year kept him going.

    • JULIE, what a lovely little Wagtail. I think its a Female Grey Wagtail, but stand to be corrected. Its foot has not stopped it from surviving has it. Well done JULIE`s waggy one foot.

      • Thank you Lorna and you’re right it’s a girlie. I am so chuffed she’s survived x

    • Julie so thrilled for you that Waggie has returned, they do know where
      they are loved and looked after. I wonder where she goes in the in between time?
      I’d be over the moan to see her again.
      Paul has just come back from giving Rosie a short walk and says there are a couple
      of cards up on posts and trees, someone has lost an old black labrador called Paddy,
      so worried now because it has started to snow and is bitterly cold. But I wonder how you
      can lose an old lab! Plenty of dog walkers usually about so hopefully he will be found
      How long did Waggy stay with you last year?
      Dx

      • Hi Deirdre – What a shame about the old lab. I hope he is found before long as it’s a bad forecast for tonight. We are supposed to be going to a dance tonight, think we will decide after dinner whether to go or not.
        Waggie only stayed until March, then no sighting until yesterday. I have often thought of her though.
        Enjoy your evening.
        Love Julie xxx

    • That is amazing Julie – I’m sure your food did help her to survive and she certainly knows where to come again! xxx

  22. Thank you NICK for your post today. As I read about the Alabatross, the combination of your superb writing and precis of that ‘famous poem’, evoked such an atmosphere of despair and utter loneliness of that far distant ocean. For the first time since trying to read all the poem years ago, you have made me feel that I should really like to return to it – yes, I have it in my bookcase – and how perfect is the final photo of the Albatross flying above those dark seas. Brilliant Nick.
    Well, dear Villagers, I am specially thinking of all of you who are awaiting or already experienceing the threatened snowfall, which the weather people are warning us al about. Down here in Plymouth, it has been raining all day and the temperature has risen to the dizzy height of around 6 degrees! I complain a lot about Plymouth always having so much rain, but on this occasion, I welcome it rather than having snow and ice under my feet!
    SHIRLEY. Best wishes to Jennifer and her climbing of Kilimanjaro, in aid of the Tesco appeal for Alzheimers. I hope that today’s customers have filled your buckets with cash and notes.
    MARION Please wish your husband A Very Happy Birthday from me. I agree with you Eileen, surely, he could take a wee dram even if (as always) we are told not to drink alcohol whilst taking medicine. On a different subject MARION, so many thanks for the link to Kew Gardens, such beautiful and unusual blooms, a delight to the eye on such a dreary day here. I have put it in my favourites.
    EILEEN. Hope your unexpected, heavy bump on your head with the sack of dog biscuits hasn’t affected you adversely today. Such encouraging news to read how caring the Morrison’s staff were – quite restores one’s faith in human nature.
    SUSAN. Still sending you loving and healing thoughts my dear. I sincerely hope that Emma is doing a lot of cossetting over these painful days. I send you a BIG, but gentle hug too.
    I love looking at all the photos of such interesting birds so many of you see in your gardens, even though I am green with envy! JULIE, I can just imagine how thrilled you must be to see your dear little one-leg Waggie again this year. Yes, I’m sure all those mealworms from last year have brought him back.
    FIONA Such a treat to see the Osprey – is it the one at Dunedin? Thank you too for the link to the Courier and their article re: the hoped for return of our ‘Lady’ and Laird. I DO WISH, they would get a move on up there at the Lowes and get their servers sorted. The thought that our beloved Pair, might arrive and we not be able to see it as it happens drives me to distraction!! Keep positive Rosy! In fact, I think I may give ‘my’ Perth B&B a ring tomorrow to book my room there in time for the 20th!
    MAGGIE, Your mention of today’s Murrayfield rugby, brought back memories of when, just having met my ex-husband in Edinburgh, he took me to such a match. I was of course very excited, but didn’t understand anythiing about the game!
    Enough! love to all, Rosy.

    • Hello Rosy – Lovely to see your post and go get that B & B. I can’t wait until March and May.
      Hope you are well my dear.
      Love Julie xxx

    • Get that B&B booked!! Yes, it is indeed Dunedin. Planning an osprey spotting trip the next time we go to Florida ~ Dunedin is on the way to Clearwater, so thought I’d suggest a night away at the beach (I hate beaches) and there is also an Osprey nest in the car pack at Aquatica (water Park) I hate water parks too but I might just have to go!! They also fish in the lake on International Drive. So that’s me sorted and definitely cheaper than buying tickets for Disney/Universal!

  23. Just before thinking about getting dinner sorted, I thought I would check the Ukrainian weather on the internet, as they have it really bad (one of my Daughter-in-Laws is Ukrainian, and with my Son and Grand Sons, is living in China where my Son works ). 101 people have died with the freezing cold at -4F. Horrendous. Looking through all the photos posted on the site, I saw a Sparrow, all fluffed up. I took a snap of it and put it in my album, page 3.

  24. Well did I see Crossbills? You bet I did ! In fact it was me that spotted them, which was brave of me to speak up, as I had never seen them before.
    Now I have a photo, but it’s not brillant as the birds were right at the top a Scots Pine tree.

    It is there I promise you. To the right of the branch on a Pine cone. Get the magnifying glass out LOL.
    There were 20+ feeding along with Siskins. Later on in the walk we could actually hear them cracking the seeds from the cones and see the bits falling down. These are the stripped cones, artistically placed by Cliff.

    We also saw Brambling, Coal Tits, Redpole and GS Woodpecker, among’st all the usual birds. As we got back to the car park there was a very nice female Bullfinch, feeding on the ground.
    It was a very cold walk in Footlands wood and with the odd snow flurry reminding us that winter has not finished with us yet, but so enjoyable, plus
    Crossbills, a first for me.

    • WOW JULIE I am thrilled for you! I was just admiring your beautiful little Waggy One Foot and then read on down and saw the Crossbill! That was amazing! I was talking to my podiatrist this morning, another avid birder, and told him that you were hoping to see some in Kent/Sussex of all places and he was astounded that they had come so far south as they usually are found in pinewoods – which you obviously found there! Brilliant Julie I am so proud of you getting that lovely photo too! Well done you for a terrific first!

      • Hello my friend – Thank you for your kind words. It’s been quite a day. The sighting of the Crossbills was exciting because although our expert Cliff heard them it was me that saw them first. Good job I was right, as I would have felt a right Wally (nothing new there)
        Then to id my little Waggie in the garden, i was just over the moon. I wonder where she went the rest of the year and if she found a mate and bred. So many questions i would love to know the answer to.
        Are you keeping warm? I see you may go out in the cold tomorrow if it snows. Don’t forget the thermals !
        Have a good evening,
        Much love, me xxx

    • That’s brilliant, Julie. Well done, you. I could just about make out the bird too.
      It sounds like it was really worth getting cold for!!

      • Thanks Joyce – Could have done with one of those Cherry picker things to get me up a bit higher.

        • LOL Julie the trouble is you would probably have frightened them all off as you got up close and personal! Lovely pic though – I didn’t realize they weres so brightly coloured!

          • The Males are stunning, almost Orange in certain light. The Scotish ones are even brighter I believe x

    • Lucky you Julie – I can see your Crossbill – looks like a lovely male. And Brambling too – what a great walk you had – I’m quite jealous – yet to see either of them this year xxx

  25. Hmmm something strange happening here! Just after I replied to Julie’s Crossbill photo post, I wrote alnother post – commenting on the Rugby, and that I was putting jacket taters in the oven to have with chilli sauce ……but I dont see it here! Oh well never mind it wasnt important – but just to reiterate one thing, Rosy I was so pleased to hear you are going to tryand make the meeting in May – yes get on the phone to your B&B – Julie and I are so looking forward to meeting everyone and it would be great to see you too!
    Hope this finds its way to the village ….no snow here yet but mighty cold – I’ve still got my scarf on!

    • WOW! Not seen that before Neil, it’s an emotive approach to a very important message, and speaks volumes to me. It is a worry that the message doesn’t always reach many of the people that need to understand, and respond to it, the most. Thanks Neil.

    • Not seen that before Neil, wish it could reach out to destroyers of our planet,
      but what do you do if they don’t want to hear?
      Dx

      • There lies the crux Deirdre, the governments and powers that be in the world are the very people these messages need to reach, but they first need to actually care before adequate changes may be effected. We have a long road to travel yet!!

    • Aw Neil – that was lovely – I hadn’t seen it before so thanks for posting it.

      I watched Room 101 last night purely because Chris Packham was on and he wanted to consign the human race to Room 101 because we had practically destroyed the planet and weren’t living in harmony with Nature. He is a great bloke and never afraid to speak up, Unfortunately he also wanted to consign children’s drawings which perhaps didn’t do him any favours!!

  26. Here I am again. Thank you dear JULIE for your kind words, yes,, fingers crossed, I am fine just now. Good for you being the first person to have spotted those Crossbills; I have only seen them on nature programmes on TV. Must say, I rather liked the artistic arrangement of those ‘stripped’ fir cones!
    JILL, How welcoming is your message to me; it’s so lovely to know I have so many kind friends here, and YES, I most definitely am looking forward to meeting you JILL and JULIE, and everyone else who might hopefully make it to get to the Lowes on MAY 20th!
    LORNA How brave of you to find out on the internet about the horrendous weather and temperatures in the part of China where your son, daughter-in -law and grandson are at the moment. It seems almost impossible that such a small bird can survive in those temperatures. I’m off, this minute to look at the photo you have brought us, and then will be having an hour’s phone chat with my sister – our regular weekly call. Take care dear Villagers and keep warnm!

    • ROSY, I checked the weather in the Ukraine, not China, although going by some photos they e-mailed me last year they get it just as bad where they are.

  27. Evening all! Thanks for all your responses to this week’s post – I was a little worried it wouldn’t be too well received, I know poetry isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but my hope was it would give a different perspective, and maybe, just maybe, have some of you look up the poem and read it!! xxx

  28. Well we have decided to risk going to the dance. So if i’m not around tomorrow, we’ll be stuck in a snowdrift somewhere between Hastings and Battle.
    Marion – Wish your OH a Happy Birthday.
    Susan – hope your poor mouth is feeling better.
    Nick – Forgot thank you for the post, well done with the poem, not one I am familiar with.
    To everyone else, enjoy your evening.
    Love Julie xxx

    • Take care out there Julie and enjoy the dance but mind how you go getting back to the car! Take emergency provisions! Bye for now my dear xxx

  29. its 7.30 p.m. and its just started snowing here – fine flakes at the moment but coming down quite fast – brrrrr – off to have my jack-pots – back a bit later. Have a good warm evening everyone!

    • Cold here, but no snow……yet!! Been lashing down with rain all day!! I think winter has it’s feet under the table!!!

    • That’s lovely Neil – must make an effort to get there this year – is it near Callander – I think I asked you before but not sure you saw it

      • Sorry if i missed it before, yep its near callander, i would go soon as there is always more in the winter you can get up to 40 there.The trick is to go up for the feeding time then wait for a while later, most people will leave but if you stay the kites come down to feed again after evryone one leaves.

    • Love that Neil!! Here’s a couple of my first attempts at Red Kites, from Gigrin last March:

      One of the two Leucistic Kites there, and one of the better ones I managed!

    • hi neil thats one hell of a shot i have made four or five visits now to try and get one like that but its always too dark or something else goes wrong never mind next time perhaps.brian ps i still dont like to see the wing tags all the kites i see are wild birds so they dont have them.

  30. We have lots of snow!! Been snowing since about 3.30 p.m. and it is now getting really deep. Only tiny flakes but when we came back from shopping about an hour ago the roads were already getting hard packed and treacherous and we skidded around a bit!

    Been stocking up on sultanas and dried mealworms (I know they like the live ones best but I just can’t bring myself to get them) as we suddenly have lots of blackbirds – I expect the cold weather has brought them in.

    Off to take the dogs out now – can’t say I’m looking forward to it as it is blowing a gale too!

    Take care anyone out and about tonight. Back later – I hope!

    • Glad you mentioned birds straight after the mealworms Jacqs, I’d have been worried about your diet otherwise!!! LOL
      I was chuffed to bits to see one of the Leucistics at Gigrin, it was the first time I’d seen any at all, so to see one of them too, on my first visit, AND to manage a few half recognisable pics was special!!
      You take care Jacqs!! xx

  31. Sorry I have not been around today, just one of those!! I am off to have a late dinner so will see you all tomorrow. Sleep tight and sweet dreams my friends. Night Night Lady and Laird, stay safe in the sun xxx
    Susan ((((hugs)))) xxx

  32. evening all. Been awol most of the day. Sorry for all those who have snow. We’ve had nothing in Edinburgh. I’m Glad about that. Very interesting post nick. I always wondered where that phrase came from about the albatross around your neck. Well now i know. :-) haven’t Read any posts yet really. Just off to do so. Xxx

  33. Hi Jacqueline, so glad to see that you arrived home safely after the ‘skidding around’ on the already hard packed snow you have. Hope too that by now you are now back home after your walk with the dogs – not a night to be out and about methinks! Please take care over the next few days when you are out and about.
    LORNA Oh what a darling little sparrow, all fluffed up there in below freezing Ukraine. Trust me to get it wrong, thinking you had been looking at China! Thinking of the saying ‘God tempers the wind to the shorn lamb’, I do hope He gives those birds who live in such freezing temperatures, an extra growth of feathers. I think that photo you have brought us here, would make a delightful Christmas card!

  34. Good evening everyone, had a good day with Jennifer at Tesco, we collected £364 thanks to kind caring customers. I will pass on your good wishes to Jennifer. Now I am off to read the Ancient Mariner, night night all. Xx

  35. Neil just popped back, here you go, taken 10 mins ago LOL, not to clear as it is snowing and Demi would not keep still!! She goes absolutely daft in the snow, she loves it xxx

    • Aw Jan – she is lovely. We have loads of snow too – so deep you can’t tell where the road ends and the pavements begin. It is that very dry snow and is just compacting and sticking to everything – looks like you have quite a lot too – what I am noticing most is how quiet it is – no traffic at all – lovely. Take care – hope you get some sleep xxx

    • Thats so unfair, thought it was the futher north you went the more chance of snow, its cold outside but not one snowflake, never mind i might wake up to loads of snow, hears hoping.

      • No Neil – I think it was forecast for the Midlands and the East – I am in the East Midlands!! lol
        Just going to see if I can put a picture up

        • hi jacks its been snowing here all afternoon but its turned to rain now so it might come youre way but its a very slow process brian.

  36. @SeaShepherd: Taiji: Today 10 Dolphin killing boats left port. A total of 23 killers on board including one female Dolphin killer. #tweet4taiji

    • @SeaShepherd: Taiji: 7 boats driving pod. Killers preparing nets and butcherhouse preparing tarps to hide murder to come. #tweet4taiji

  37. well its Siberia here now – still coming down and hasnt stopped for the past 5 hours ……sticking to the road outside – its so quiet – no traffic. I’m off to bed now – see you all tomorrow – nite nite, sleep well…love Jill xx