Watch the Birdie (while you can...)

There’s a carnival atmosphere in the water meadows on bright dry mornings in north west  England. For a lesson in happy bravado, ask a lapwing: they’ve made wheeling and phwee-ing a fine art.

           Course, if you don’t know what the little virtuosos are called, you nip on to the RSPB website* when you’re  home, to find your  new best bird friend. On the Red list. Endangered species. What?  And your lapwing's not alone. Some of your old chums also feature. Song thrushes. Herring gulls. Sparrows. Sparrows?

           And suddenly you think of the heavens without  birds. The awful quiet. No skylarks playing hide and seek with gravity. No willow tits inspiring operettas. No curlews refusing your melancholia. And you realise:  take the dawn chorus for granted, and there’s  a chance  you’ll wind up with nothing but recordings on YouTube.

           Time for action, then. A big squawk out in poetry: songs of praise  for every single species on that red list, as it stands in October 2018. The need for precision is advised. The danger changes. We don't want any more species following the Great Auk to extinction. There ain't no coming back from that.

          But... some species, with careful help from people who  know what they're doing, make it back to the safer branches of the orange list and better. If we're all on the case, the real tweeters -- the one that really matters -- will keep our hills, forests, wetlands and towns alive for our own fledglings.

            Oh, and we do know that a bunch of poems won’t necessarily save one single creature. But they might re-nudge you to unfriend Project Planet Plunder in whatever form it takes. And they might remind you to watch the birdie. While you can.


Click to hear Tara Vallente's Lapwing Poem