Flutters a thing of light

It’s a wonderful evening, with soft evening light, on Trendlebere Down on Dartmoor. There’s the familiar sound of twittering as a small bird flies over me with rapid bursts of wingbeats. I know that sound; I’ve heard it in the garden of Einar in Orkney:

It’s a bird which, like the rest of the natural world, has declined substantially in my lifetime. It’s a Linnet:

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

Linnets were described as ‘common birds’ in this Ladybird book:

Not so any more. I’m delighted to see one and to use some fieldcraft to get close to it:

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

Here’s a poem about the Linnet written by Walter de la Mare, a poet perhaps most famous for his much anthologised poem, The Listeners:

The Linnet

Upon this leafy bush
With thorns and roses in it,
Flutters a thing of light,
A twittering linnet.
And all the throbbing world
Of dew and sun and air
By this small parcel of life
Is made more fair;
As if each bramble-spray
And mounded gold-wreathed furze,
Harebell and little thyme,
Were only hers;
As if this beauty and grace
Did to one bird belong,
And, at a flutter of wing,
Might vanish in song. 

Walter de la Mare

I love the phrase “Flutters a thing of light”. What a perfect poetic description.

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