“A little bit of bread and no cheese”

There’s a yellow bird singing loudly from a tree on Trendlebere Down. It sounds utterly beautiful and I’m entranced.

Yellowhammer - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

It must be a Yellowhammer. In previous years I would have had to remember as much as possible about the bird, return home, look at a poor reproduction of a watercolour interpretation of the bird and its possible alternatives and stare at a less-than postage stamp sized map of its distribution to try to work out what it was. Instead I get my phone out and check the RSPB’s website. “Often seen perched on top of a hedge or bush, singing.” it says. Sounds about right. However, it also says that Yellowhammers are not found in “The Orkneys”, which makes me worry because there is no such place at “The Orkneys”. There’s Orkney, that I recognise, but not “The Orkneys”.

Yellowhammers host 13 different species of fleas (although not, I believe, all at the same time). They ought to set up their own FleaBnB app on iPhone and Android. They’d make a killing. They also suffer from blood parasites. I knew that without looking at them because male birds are usually brightly coloured to prove to females that they are fit and healthy, don’t have blood parasites, and can raise a large brood of chicks. Females that preferred brightly coloured males have more chicks who survive and have brightly coloured boys and have girls who prefer brightly coloured males, and so on for a million years or so. Evolution; it’s a lot more credible than creation myths.

Their song is meant to sound like “A little bit of bread and no cheese”, according to Enid Blyton and those who followed her. Personally I can’t hear it, and after all, what is the use of bread without cheese?

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