Monday, May 30

A missive to Mr B. Cocksure, A.R.S.O.L.S.

I am in receipt of your missive of the 26th last, concerning the planned eulogy for our late bird watching colleague, Chippendale, and I must state I find your request therein most un-Christian indeed.
I have heard tales concerning the committee on which you serve, The Albion Rare Sightings Official Logistical Survey, as being one prone to tarnish and sully the reputations of those that do not hold your authority on the matter as a final, but Chippendale was certainly not one. I am aware he provided you with all necessary paperwork.
For you to now write and declare I should not mention his American Baldpate on Potters Fleet from 40 years hence during the service, as you have now reviewed and rejected the record, is extremely distasteful. It is almost as if you have already secretly reviewed tomes held upon individuals that simply await their passing 'ere publication, at which time you seek to bury the record with the observer. I cannot understand how a committee that claims to be scientific in its work can allow a claim to stand whilst the observer breathes, but then decide it to be untrue when the poor man is cold. As someone invited to enjoy views of his Giant Yellowshank on Potters Lagoon during its lengthy sojourn I suspect this bird too will fall from grace once I depart?
Your motto of ‘What’s seen by us, gains admittal, what’s unseen by us, gains dismissal’ is most distasteful, and I shall certainly mention not only this wondrous sighting under question, but also his Gull-billed Tern at Cackitt Creek and his Dusky Thrush from the deck of the Coast Guard Vessel No. 12 moored offshore from there.

Be aware I have also written to your chairman, Mr. Blatter, to let him know my feelings on this matter. Chippendale's records will be mentioned in the service, I can assure you, immediately after we all join in that favourite birdwatchers' hymn, 'All strings bright and beautiful'. His Anas, mounted by Bristow, will also be proudly displayed.

Sunday, May 29

To Weasel, on digging holes

My dearest Weasel,

I am much vexed by the behaviour in my recent absence of my gravedigger, Dumpton. I understand he had taken it upon himself, as his dug his daily fresh hole, to rant against our neighbouring small peaceful community from the Voouseran denomination, telling them they should not dare to note down the number of the beasts they have seen. I had to issue instruction that he desist forthwith, as he had clearly forgotten that God expects us to know the where and when of all beasts, in case we once again need to gather up two of everything should he melt the icecaps again. If the Lord had to rely on Digger Dumpton collecting two of everything, then I fear we would only have the few creatures listed on the Gardeners' gazetteer to populate our Ark, together with the lone Booted Eagle he still counts, not unlike the Ancient Viking Mariner of the poem.

He remains a much troubled soul. Seemingly every other utterance has to now contain the words 'fek pan-listers', 'arsh pan-listers' and 'gurl pan-listers'. The Voouserans, for their part, have found the strength to turn the other cheek, and simply gesticulate the sign of the cross toward him with their middle finger as they pass him by.

What might yet prove to be the nadir came just two days ago when Dumpton's wailings scared off the only known territorial male of that rare sub-species of Tawny Pipit, Anthus campestris graveii, which had up to that point had been watched over by Colonel Barton-Barrington and dear nurse Rosamund John whilst it had sang from atop Dumpton's fresh compost just over the graveyard wall. I think we should pray for him (the pipit, not Dumpton).

On returning from my voyage of discovery

It pleases me much to return to the parish, after three long months away travelling to un-Christian lands and sighting many species of heathen birds. I will have many stories to tell of my time upon the Royal Naval Research Ship H.M.S. Beadle, but for now I must concentrate on settling back to counselling my parishioners.