Sunday, March 23, 2008

A reader writes...

A reader writes #1
'Dear Martin. Nice to see you the other day. You're looking really really tired and unwell. So what's the deal with these dead voles etc. Do you really find them or are you some sort of pervert who traps them for fun research or something?'

Dear Reader. I'm not 'some sort of pervert'. I'm the very best sort of pervert. The sort who spends his early hours of the morning between waking and rising working out his list of 'Top three Disney cartoon characters I would like to 'date', were I not happily married.' In third place, Sleeping Beauty (after the 16th birthday thing, of course). In Second, an old favourite, Princess Jasmine from Aladdin. In first place, and a relatively new entry in this chart -* Colette* from Ratatouille. I like a girl who knows how to handle a knife. I genuinely do not deliberately kill any voles etc. BUT I do seem to have this aura of small mammal death that surrounds me wherever I go. Like in the lab where my proximity within 3 m of any experiment pretty much ensures it will go t*ts -up. I'm not sure why I find so many dead things, except it must be a sign that I spend too much time looking at the ground and not at the sky. Like a Laputan*, but backwards.
'Laputan - Gulliver's Travels - 'Their heads were all reclined either to the right or to the left; one of their eyes turned inward, and the other directly upward to the zenith... . It seems, the minds of these people are so taken up with intense speculations, that neither can they speak, or attend to the discourses of others, without being rouzed by some external taction upon the organs of speech and hearing...' That's me alright, except that instead of having my one eye pointing upward to the zenith, it is pointing downwards to the errr... opposite of zenith. The oppozenith. The shrewith. What-ever. Don't think much of the Laputans. Grrr... they ruined Laputa. Me cago en Laputa. There, you could read bird blogs all week and not come across another Spanish pun.

A reader writes #2
Dear Martin, nice to see you at the star-spangled premiere of my latest movie the other day. You look awful - have you tried sleeping recently? I notice you have a keen interest in cagebirds. Do you keep birds, you sad man?
Dear Reader. No, I don't keep cagebirds. However I do have a keen interest in cagebirds, because it pays to keep up with what sorts of things are in mainstream trade. You'd be surprised. Wanna buy a Trumpeter Finch? Just tell me how many and I'll fill out the paperwork for you.

A writer writes
Sigh.... OK, birds. Today (Sunday). But first, weather - north wind and snow flurries. It ain't spring yet.

Looking out from my gorse forest ("... I approached the bush carefully observed a large brightly coloured passerine disappearing elusively behind the twig...") to the sea, it was all a bit 'Day After Tomorrow' but without the comedy bums.
I made a pathetic attempt to record some calls of a White-throated Dipper flying along the Elsick Burn. Skillfully captured the trundle of lorries along the A90, and the sound of my own jiggling as I removed a stone from my boot. Grey Wagtail over, checking all the overhead gulls for Glaucs, etc... very boring... going to sleep... zzzzzz... zzzzz. zzzzz. zzzzz...... mmm no Colette,... not in the cheese sauce...zzzzz.... zzzz.... eh, whassat??? A Goosander (Common Merganser) on the sea at the beach - just out from the mouth of the burn. That's unusual - all ?3 previous patch records have been flyovers. This one hung around for about 3 femtosecond and flew off. Very little else of interest offshore, EXCEPT a flock of 12 Bottle-nosed Dolphins heading north just offshore. Excellente. Very nice views.

Back through Newtonhill - 8 Eurasian Siskins at the playpark, haven't been around for a while, and then ohhhh yesss... momma. Or rather papa (he had a penis). This one.

Another big male Short-tailed Vole. Another victory for anti-Laputan philosophy.
A walk through the blizzards and around Cran Hill produced not much. Eurasian Skylarks singing between the showers, and a couple of Common Buzzards. And a Pied Wagtail, and the usual Winter Wrens etc.

A reader writes #3
Dear Martin. I haven't seen you recently because I am in Ireland, but I imagine you are looking great! I am going birding in China later in the year, but am worried about the situation in Tibet and whether I should support the Chinese tourist industry.

Dear Reader. The situation in Tibet is undoubtedly troubling, but let's face it, if you boycotted every country that enthusiastically suppressed revolts when it suited them, you could start with the Britain, USA, most of Africa and South America, Australia, Russia, the entire Far East, and in fact you wouldn't have anywhere left to go. Whether Tibet is special, or worse than elsewhere, I wouldn't be qualified to say. My understanding is that China never openly asserted its sovereignty over Tibet until (surprise!) the British invaded in 1904. So going to China is a positive statement against British Imperialism, probably. :-) Also that prior to 1950, a previous Dalai Lama had efficiently expelled Chinese nationals from Tibet :-( . Monty Python bit: Apart from social and economic reform, the secularisation of government, land reform, healthcare, the abolition of slavery, the roads, sanitation, the urban infrastructure, education, and the break up of the monastic estates, WHAT has China ever done for Tibet? :-) I'm with Mao Zedong and the Easter Bunny on the subject - Religion is poison, but chocolate is not. Have a good trip! eh?


Harry said...

Dear Martin,
Thanks for your advice for this person with regard to visiting China. I am sure that it will cheer him up no end to be taking a stand against British imperialism, though he stresses that he has nothing but the highest regard for many British's more some of the decisions and actions of past administrations. We're all Europeans now, however, except for those browsing here who aren't, and let's put the past behind us, while learning lessons from it.
I am sure that I..I mean 'this person'...will enjoy all those lovely Sibes in China, and will, in due course, post some crappy pics on his blog.

P.S. Psst! Want me to bring back a consignment of Mugimakis? One free one at Newtonhill for every batch purchased...

P.P.S. The above is not admissable as evidence in court

Harry said...

'Religion is poison, but chocolate is not'

It is to dogs, apparently (chocolate, that is)...
I would also argue that it isn't so much religion that is poison, as the interpretation that a given group can put on the teachings of said religion: for every religious nutcase, intolerant hate-mob or would-be martyr, there are people inspired to great deeds by their faith.

Martin said...

it isn't so much religion that is poison, as the interpretation that a given group can put on the teachings of said religion: for every religious nutcase,

That might very well be true... but I don't think it's what our glorious Chairman meant! Now, on the whole I regard Richard Dawkins as being a bit of publicity-seeking media -ite whose popular influence is not justified by the quality of his work. They say that we all have one good book in us, and that is also true of Richard Dawkins. Unfortunately he wrote it in 1976... and then went on to write several more! So I don't normally quote him, but I will this time. Actually I can't remember quite what he said, so I'm going to mis-quote. He said something like... 'in a World without religion, good people would still do good things, and evil people would still do evil things, but only religion makes good people do evil things.' I think that's what he was saying. And it's clearly wrong... as the example of Chairman Mao's career would testify, *anyone* who has a fervent fundamental belief in something they believe to be right, whether it's a fairy story about God loving us or a belief that an enormous diverse country can be run by the dictatorship of the agrarian peasantry, is capable of murderous deeds. Actually Chairman Mao used the clandestine chocolate-poison technique to purge 20 million of his political opponents' dogs and turned them into saucepans, although I may have made that last bit up. I'll take a pair of Mugimakis (No. 21), a Chestnut-eared Bunting (no. 2), a handful of Swinhoe's Pseudorobins (No 54) and a Gray's Gropper (no. 3) please.

Harry said...

Is the Swinhoe's Pseudorobin another name for Rufous-tailed Robin? Hadn't heard that one before.
On another topic, my own problem with Dawkins is that, in his diatribes against religion, he is as much a fundamentalist in his own way as bin Laden's bunch, Bible-belt preachers or people on some small Pacific island who worship Terry Wogan as a god (well, if there's that crowd who think that Prince Philip, of all people, is their god made man, surely Our Tel must have his worshippers). Hardly good objective science...
That, and he's married to former Doctor Who companion Lalla Ward, who's still too good-looking for the likes of him.
BTW, surely the Richard Dawkins who posts bird pics on Surfbirds is a different person?