Monday, May 12

Sea-swallow Shanty


Well dear diary, no sooner had the last month's journal of Tukogbanifek Birds been delivered than a new revolt against Watchmen oppression began.

In that issue chapter and verse on the spring migrations of Common and Arctic Terns were laid out before us, detailing that regular and routine mis-identification of Terns is down to too much reliance on just one feature- that absence or presence of a dark primary wedge.

Of course, this problem has actually been known for some time; one has only to look at the presence/absence of Arctics among Spring a'sightings from regular sites along the Capital river, it has always been as if they somehow possess the ability cloak themselves from detection at one site, then parade themselves at the next.

No matter. It was actually the edict that followed this which caused this latest Peasant's revolt;-

"It is decreed that a'birderers in sarfern Tukogbanifek work on the surmisation that, in circumstances normal, Common Terns are far more greater in number than Arctic Terns, by somewhere in the region of as low as five to the one, up to as many as one hundred and eighty to the one.."

So came the subversive claims. Never have so many vouchsafes of Arctic been made in the sarf and east as in these few weeks that have followed. Why, one site has claimed 2,900 in one day, meaning, if we follow the Watchmen's mathematics, up to 522,000 Common/Commonish Terns should have been scuttling past as well. I am sure the Watchmen will put this down to unfortunate timing, and that in reality no such plebbish backlash exists, but I also think we should all wait to see what they pronounce next, and how the unruly Sarf coast responds to that proclamation. Dear diary, I think they might well just see a trend developing then(!)

I am reminded of the marvellous old shanty penned by one Montgomery Python some years ago, for his comedic operetta 'The Meaning of Lifelists', a song which has never been more apt methinks, and of which I can still recall all words;-


Every Tern is Sacred

          (Solo)
          There are Seawatchers in the world,
          There are Trappists.
          There are Patchers, back-gard’ners, and then
          There are those that follow Four hundred, but
          I've never been one of them.

          I'm a Lister, catholic,
          And have been since before I was born,
          And the one thing they say about listers is:
         They'll claim Terns three hours ‘fore dawn.

          You don't have to get every identity.
          Not each a specific species claim.
          You just have to claim one example a year. You're
          catholic without any duff claim, because-
          Every Tern is sacred.
          Every Tern is great.
          If a Tern is mis-i.d.’d,
          God gets quite irate.

          (All)
          Every Tern is sacred.
          Every Tern is great.
          If a Tern is mis-i.d.’d,
          God gets quite irate.

          (Solo)
          Let the patchers claim theirs
          O’er village green.
          God shall make them pay for
          Each wedge that went unseen.

          (All)
          Every Tern is sacred.
          Every Tern is good.
          No claim can be out of place,
          For your neighbourhood.

          (Solo)
          Sussu, Kentist, Hantsman,
          Claim theirs anywhere,
          But God loves those who treat their
          Tern claims with much more care.

          (All)
          Every Tern is sacred.
          Every Tern is great.
          If a Tern is mis-i.d.’d,
          God gets quite irate.

          Every Tern is sacred.
          Every Tern is good.
          No claim can be out of place,
          For your neighbourhood.

          Every claim is useful.
          Every claim is fine.
          God needs everybody's.
          Thine and thine and thine!

          Let the Stringers claim theirs
          O'er reservoir, lake, and plain.
          Stats shall strike them down for
          Each tern sp. claimed in vain.

          Every Tern is sacred.
          Every Tern is good.
          No claim may be out of place,
          For your neighbourhood.

          Every Tern is sacred.
          Every Tern is great.
          If Common is strung Arctic,
          God gets quite iraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaate!

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