Tag Archives: song

The sweet song of the Thrush

In my post yesterday I mentioned that as a delightful counterpoint to listening for rumbling earth tremors, and creaking and groaning house timbers or ominous rattling, I had discovered the bird song in the garden to be that of a Thrush or Song Thrush as they can be known.

I have been on to this simply outstanding website and gathered up some bits of information about our very tuneful friend. He has the capacity to sing without pause for several hours I am discovering this morning.
The Thrush is an introduced bird to New Zealand and is found through-out the country. It is a pretty bird with speckles on a proud cream breast. They love to sing from a high branch or on a tree top, although they are often seen on the ground foraging for food.
Here is “my” one- high up on the flowering cherry tree
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And then, when not enjoying my proximity, he flew to a neighbour’s Silver Birch tree….can you spot him as a distant blur in the centre of the photo?
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These seem to be his current favourite vantage points from which to tell all that this is his territory. Information indicates that at this time of the year as breeding is about to get under way (August through to February) the male thrush sings to inform of his territorial ownership.

The song is distinctive and attractive with many notes repeated several times before another phrase is sung and repeated. NZ Birds online website here has several recordings worth listening to. I was amazed to find that the first two were from 1845 and the early 1900’s in Christchurch and are part of the Natural History Unit Sound Archive.www.archivebirdsnz.com

In spring and summer I am often alerted to a Thrush on the ground by the sound of loud cracking on the concrete path. Thrushes love snails (and slugs) and will work very hard to crack open the shell so they can eat the contents….

So now I need to look for the chorister’s mate and check the trees in our Tall Tree area of the garden to see if I can spot a nest being built in days to come. I think I found a Thrushes’ nest down in that spot last autumn.

Every so often we find a blue-green egg with speckles on it, cracked and empty after a Thrush fledgling has hatched and the egg remains have been tossed out on to the ground.

Do go and visit the website to enjoy the clear and informative photos, sound recordings and data there.

And I will continue to listen to the performance that has been going on for 5 hours now bar a short intermission when the Thrush hopped past my glass sliding door and I swear he winked at me

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Yes, but what are the lyrics?

On two occasions this week I’ve learnt new lyrics in 2 different songs.

For years I’ve not known what the words were in one line of the first song and in the second song it would seem that I was taught the “wrong” words or maybe an alternative version.

The first mysterious line, that is now clear to me, is from the song “Down on the Corner” by Credence Clearwater Revival. This puzzle was solved when we were watching the current television programme “The Sing Off”. I love this programme that is made in America and features very talented groups singing Accapella in a competition setting.

One of the groups sang “Down on the Corner” with such technique and clarity that I heard the actual words “Bring a nickel, tap your feet” as the final line in the chorus.

Then, at my grandson’s Parent as First Teachers yesterday I read the words of the children’s song “Galoop, went the little green frog.” And I discovered that the line I had been taught was NOT “The all-night frogs go [Clap] La de da de da” but “We all know frogs go [clap] La de da de da.”

I had always imagined a funky group of frogs, who clapped and sang all night when I was singing this ditty.

I think I prefer the version I learnt but I did have to laugh over this confusion and if my grandchildren learn a version different to “my” one I’ll swap to that.

Do you have a funny story to share about song lyrics gone wrong or not understood?

Garlic and Gumboots

Saturday dawned sunny, mild and windfree so with the shortest day just behind us I decided to plant my garlic. I had prepared the tubs a few weeks earlier to allow the sheep pellets, lime, compost, bulb food and dry all purpose plant food to simmer away in the weather in order for the soil to be ready for the bulbs.

I have two tubs for garlic this year. One is planted with elephant garlic and the other with ordinary garlic. The beauty of elephant garlic is that small bulblets form off the head which can be planted next season to produce more large, tasty heads. My two elephant garlic heads this summer yielded 13 bulblets…..a kind of elephant family herd size I reckon. I have planted all 13 bulblets so I expect to have masses of elephant herds next summer

I prefer the cloves of elephant garlic. They are large and their papery skin is easily pealed. One clove is often enough for the dish I am cooking. The taste is somewhat milder and nuttier than ordinary garlic. The stalks and flowers are pretty impressive in height and size too.

“Garlic used as it should be used is the soul, the divine essence, of cookery. The cook who can employ it successfully will be found to possess the delicacy of perception, the accuracy of judgment, and the dexterity of hand which go to the formation of a great artist.” – Mrs. W. G. Waters
I’m not sure that my cooking with garlic reaches the heights of great artistry as Mrs Waters says it will but it is really satisfying to know that growing garlic to cook can contribute to the soul and divine essence of cookery. That has to be good for us.

While the weather was fine and dry on Saturday we have had plenty of rain and the grass is sodden. So later in the day it was gumboots time while we trimmed trees and did some general tidying up in the garden. Thank goodness for gumboots as they keep your feet warm and dry but there is also something very satisfying in sloshing about in gumboots. It is probably a memory from childhood when gumboots allowed you the freedom to jump in puddles, wade through shallow streams, mess about in mud and enjoy different sensory experiences on the ground.

We even have a quirky, comic song about Gumboots here in New Zealand, written by John Clarke. Here is the chorus and a verse:

“If it weren’t for your gumboots, where would ya be?
You’d be in the hospital or infirmary
‘coz you would have a dose of the ‘flu, or even pleurisy
If ya didn’t have yer feet in yer gumboots.

Now there’s rugby boots and racing boots, and boots for drinkin’ rum.
But the only boots I’m never without, are the ones that start with “gum”.
I’ve got short ones and long ones, and some up to me belt.
I’m never dressed ’till I’ve got on me gumboots.

If it weren’t for your gumboots, where would ya be?
You’d be in the hospital or infirmary
‘coz you would have a dose of the ‘flu, or even pleurisy
If ya didn’t have yer feet in yer gumboots.”

Singing in the garden

We continue to experience very mild temperatures here. Last evening I became aware of a solitary bird singing and it was not a Tui. Again this morning, I could hear the same song.

I discovered that it was a Song Thrush. I checked my book about Birds in NZ and learnt that Thrushes can breed from June to January and raise more than one clutch of eggs.

I wonder whether the birds are feeling confused with our very mild late autumn and with plenty of rain and warmth there is plenty of food around for the birds, so maybe the Thrush was calling for a mate a little earlier than usual.

The Thrush was a very welcome visitor.

The Tuis must have tuned in!

Yesterday I posted that the Tuis were absent from our garden.   An hour later there was a Tui singing in one of our trees!  I guess the message got out into cyberspace and somehow jogged a Tui to turn up here to let me know they are not that far away!

Today there is a Tui in a neighbour’s garden.  

It has been around all day so perhaps they are returning.  Nice.