The Joy of Birdwatching



Shibdon Pond is a reedbed pond four miles from where I live. In the summer common terns nest here and in the winter large flocks of waders congregate and feed. This week there have been hundreds of lapwing, four common sandpiper, six- eight black-tailed godwit, gadwell, redshanks, one juvenile dunlin, seven (visible) snipe and of course grey herons, cormorants, gulls and mallard. It is a place you never tire of visiting and it is only a mile or two from one of the biggest shopping centres in Europe, the dreaded Metro Centre!

A friend kindly gave me a telescope for my birthday and this has opened up another dimension (literally) to my birdwatching. If you have children who are interested in wildlife you can’t start too early; don’t give them toy binoculars or telescopes! Get them good quality optics and they will thank you for it!



two immaculate greenshank

painting their upside-down selves

in the still water

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I follow a strutting snipe

magnified forty times

its straw-brown camouflage

doesn’t fool me!

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ultramarine sky

and four hundred lapwings

shimmering in the still mirror

Cat’s Head

My cat decides to hide on top of a kitchen cupboard!


Fancy that! A cat
without a bottom – not even
Old Possum could out-do
your decapitating pose!
Is that a smile beneath your nose?
I’ve heard of a grin remaining
from a disappearing head;
but a disappearing body?
Please pull yourself together,
or you’ll end up quite dead!

haiku and tanka


on the paving slab
a slug’s silvery map
sets off an apricot stone

the Arctic terns have flown south –
late August, alone in a bird hide

sitting in the sun –
a tiny insect crawls across
my poem

godwits drilling the still pond –
ripples in the universe

watching bumble bees spiral into petals
I rub lavender leaves between fingers
releasing scent
but it doesn’t ease
my throbbing head

Toppling Gods

burn flag


Men and women topple
the statue and stamp on
its concrete head. Whoever it represents
has fallen from a great height.
Men piss on the politician’s
photogenic face and snarl; imprisoned
within their dark symbolic worlds.
Men set fire to a flag; their passions
inflamed by a rag. They think they champion
freedom, but where is the freedom
in their feverish frenzy? The only freedom
lies beyond the statue and the flag.

Corbridge Chamber Music Festival

gould trio

Every August the Gould Piano Trio, plus Robert Plane (clarinetist)  fill three days (Fri – Sunday) with imaginative musical programming in the centre of Corbridge. They invite guest musicians (last year James Macmillan came) to take part in their concerts in St Andrew’s church. One of the traditions (I found out this year that it has been going for 17 yrs!) is to have tea and scones outside among the gravestones! This inspired the following two haiku of mine.

The atmosphere is informal and tickets very reasonably priced. If you like classical music and live in the NE of the UK this is a must if you’ve never been. The highlight for me was the Sunday (9 Aug) 7.30 concert which featured a rousing Septet for trumpet, piano and strings by Saint-Saens.  Benjamin Frith excelled himself with the almost frantic piano runs. Philippe Schartz was the excellent trumpeter.  Photo from left to right: Alice Neary, Lucy Gould and Benjamin Frith.

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after clarinet trills and rests

sipping wine in the cemetery

an interval between melodies

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late summer evening

savouring Gould’s liquid gold

tea among tombstones