A distraction of thrushes

Anyone wondering how NaNoWriMo has gone may have noticed that my last months tweets have been mostly about injuries and birds (and the on-going horror of world events). I have actually written a reasonable amount (by my standards) but have also been regularly distracted by the views outside my windows. It’s my bad luck that the accepted month for cracking on with writing coincides with the one time of year I can guarantee that thrushes will visit the garden.

A darkling thrush at dusk

Only by taking these pictures of the top of our rowan tree with its unusual white berries do we see the beauty of the scarlet berry stalks.


I was reminded recently that the collective name for goldfinches is a “charm” which is so perfect. We know of parliament of owls and murder of crows and on this beautifully informative site  I’ve just been reminded of: a piteousness of doves, a congress – or convocation – of eagles, a trembling of finches, an exaltation of larks, a scold of jays, and of course a gaggle – or skein – of geese.

Quite charming

What about the everyday birds though? Give the sound in the garden at dawn and dusk I would have suggested a squabble of sparrows – although the list above suggested a ubiquity – which is rather sad as their numbers are now declining so much – or a quarrel of them. I fear it would have to be a bully of blue tits, and a brightness of great tits and a loneliness of coal tits as I only ever see one in the garden.


The list I found says that there is not an official collective name for Robins but that a Facebook page had among its favourites: a blush, a bobbin, a breast, a carol, a gift, a reliant, a riot, a rouge, a round and a ruby. I tend to think of a friendship, or perhaps a constancy of robins as there is almost always one in the garden, they stay close when you sit out there and they are the first to call a warning when danger approaches.

A delight of nine

My favourite distraction however is the long-tailed tit. I wasn’t that aware of them until I moved to Worcestershire and saw tiny bobbing families of birds busy in the hedges and high trees with their distinctive piping call. No matter how often I see them I still think someone has glued a lollipop stick onto a table tennis ball; how can any bird be that round and have such a fine, straight tail? They are infrequent visitors to the garden – or else their visits are so brief I miss them most days – so whenever I see them my day is invariably brightened and I always think, “Oh look, a delight of long-tailed tits.”


It’s been rather lovely to base a post around photographs after two blogs with no pictures at all (although finding the best pictures from the hundreds I have taken took a whole afternoon.) I should add that all of these were taken of visitors to our garden, which may explain any blurring – I don’t clean the windows as often as I should. The robin was just outside the back door and could have been seen from an upstairs window but I was out enjoying the snow that day. It follows that these are not all pictures taken in November.

Do you have a favourite bird? One that lifts your spirit when you see or hear it? Or a favourite collective name – either real or one of your own?

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