Today's reading was brought to mind following intercourse most rough and most recent with a local a'birderer on the matter of numbers, in particular those of Cetti's Warblers. I was somewhat taken aback to be lectured on our local reedy duck pond being home to a 'multitude' of this delightfully skulky bird. When I suggested that my own daily observations were much, much lower in number I was told I knew not of what I spake. Unchastened, I then continued to explain how the watery level of the pond was holding two feet higher than last year, thanks to all the rains, so this species really did not like the pond as much as previous. However, I was told firmly, in colourfully rustic Anglo-Saxon phrases, to only to lecture on matters for which I was qualified.
So while of course it is important we concentrate on the Easter rising I really neeeeeed to be putting this individual straight. To this end my reading to you today is penned by the very discoverer of this species in question;- I read to you from St Francesco's letter to the Marshians.
~ 73:1 This is the story of Cettia and his family.
~ 73:2 In the beginning was Animalia, who begat Chordata, who begat Aves, who begat Passeriformes, who begat Passeri, who begat Passerida, who Sylvioidea, who begat Cettidae.
~ 73:3 And Cettidae begat many sons and daughters;- Pholidornis, Hylia, Abroscopus, Urosphena, Tesia, Horornis, Tickellia, Phyllergates, Scotocerca and Cettia.
~ 73:4 And it came to pass that Cettia alone settled in the land of Tukogbani, so those many brothers and sisters were not really that familiar to the native a'birderers of the land.
~ 73:5 His closest relation dwelling there was Aegithalidae, but the natives did not take kindly when the Watchmen of Science moved Cettia next to Aegithalidae in their Order Most Scientific. Many simply refused to believe Cettia was not of the tribe of old world warblers, and that Cettia behaved the same as one.
~ 73:6 But he behaved as a Scrub-warbler. And so when Cettia settled into the first county he came upon in number, his chosen Scrub-warbler land was sought- wet, damp thickets. Now this oft included wet reedbeds, but by co-incidence, for Cettia was seeking out his dense thicketry, with beautiful bare soil beneath, upon which to scrub about.
~ 73:7 And it was there he was first watched in great detail by a holier man than I, John the Artist, who didst a jolly good job writing up all observations chapter and verse in that county's annual reporte.
~ 73:8 And for you remaining doubting Thomases, the number of that reporte was twenty-two, and the page numbers four and eighty to five and ninety.
~ 73:9 And there the Artist wrote that the territories of Cettia were found to be much longer than wide, so as to only encompass those raised embankments crossing wet reedbed. Such dominions were said to have been approximately 250 to 300 mitres* in length but a mere 30 to 60 mitres in width. And Cettia thought it good, for he did not wish to cleanse his feet.
*An ancient Jesuit measurement. There are 39.37 inches in a mitre.
~ 73:10 And it was also wrote that every domain held cover both of trees and of bushes, through which Cettia could move, or double back, unobserved by friend or foe. And Cettia thought it good, for he was a hermit at heart, more like a Luscinia in habits than any old warbler.
~ 73:11 And it was also noted that Cettia flew most frequently after utterance, and that that he didst sing once again straight after any such unobserved flight. And such hidden flights were oft the length of the domain to be as much as 250 mitres away. And Cettia thought it good to beat his bounds.
~ 73:12 And so it was, to the unobservant, that the call of Cettia could be oft claimed as two instead of one, giving rise to numbers most tricksy in the records. Indeed Cettia thought it good to be counted more than once, for a ghost bird in the bush is worth more in the logge.
~ 73:13 So, if any one of you whomsoe'er still believeth in such high countery then, truly, thou art a wad of dip.
Here endeth the reading. My parishioners, when you are asked today if you know of the good news, you may now reply "Why yes, I most certainly do;- the good news is that the territories of the local Scrub-warblers have been flooded up closer to cart-tracks and footpaths around our ponds, so we all stand a goodly chance of glimpsing him now, and have three times as many good chances of hearing his sweet, sweet song(!)."
That completes this preachy sermon. If no-one else wishes to query any of my other counts... no(?)... then I will send you all on your ways into the field wishing you happy a'birdering upon this day, the appropriated Pagan festival of Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon Goddess of Spring and Spring fowle migration.
|Makke waay thy skulky Cetti's,|
who hath helde your territorie sinfth Octobre laft,
for them Spring a'ticks are now back
and wifh to shaare your beddes,
tra la la la, tra la la laaaa(!)