I've been something of an amateur ornithologist for the last few years - no expert, no Ken Clarke, but I do notice what's flying around the place. So I was interested in today's bird pop chart in the Telegraph. Who's up and who's down. Top riser over the last few years has been the Ring Necked Parakeet. I must admit that I don't like them. Parrots shouldn't be taking over from thrushes (or whatever) in England. They belong in Africa and Asia. And anyway they just don't look British. And they have horrid voices. Next biggest riser is the Red Kite, which is joyous news. Humankind almost poisoned and shot these beautiful, graceful birds into extinction, but they were saved for the nation in Mid Wales. And my own garden observations cause me to be unsurprised to see the Great Spotted Woodpecker, Canada Geese and the Nuthatch in the top ten.
Biggest faller was the Willow Tit Willow. I can't differentiate it from the Marsh Tit myself, but since I've not seen either for years, I'm not surprised its sinking. Sorry to see the Spotted Flycatcher losing ground. It was the bird which inspired my interest when it nested in honeysuckle at eye level about two feet from our front door - and I could see it wasn't a sparrow. Then I noticed that a lot of other birds weren't sparrows either. Also sorry to see the Swift in the list of fallers. It flies high over Berriew and makes even the Red Kite seem clumsy. And the Grey Partridge. When as a young man, I took pleasure from walking our farm with my 12 bore, I used to bag as many Partridge as I did Pheasant. Now they're as rare a Vote Labour poster in Montgomeryshire.