Willow Warbler RIP

Outside my back door yesterday I found a tiny dead bird lying on its back, yellow legs in the air, claws clenched on nothing. It’s usually speugs that fly into my windows, and goodness knows there’s no population decline in that species hereabouts, but that’s the first willow warbler I’ve seen close up. I remembered a summer walk in the Cairngorms, around the Uath Lochans in lower Glenfeshie. We had stopped for a rest on a crag overlooking the lochans, and below us, on a tree-top, a wee willow warbler was singing its heart out. It’s a highly musical song, and I never tire of hearing it. At the time, or not long afterwards, I wrote a one-sentence poem about it, trying to reflect the continuous outpouring of song. So here it is. It was first published in Northwords Now, and later collected in Sushi & Chips.

Uath Lochan singer

Sudden surprise that a bird
you’ve often heard sing unseen
in the pine woods
today sang and sang
from the treetop below you
so you could see it
for the first time;
matching that lovely song
to the little brown scrap
with the yellowish chest –
a willow warbler, the book says –
as, miles from any willow,
from its high point
under your cliff,
that little yellow chest
pumps out that song
so well warbled
in the woodland
of your memories,
and what’s a warble
if not a clear
yet falling trill?

Copyright Colin Will 2006


About sunnydunny

Poet, publisher, gardener
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3 Responses to Willow Warbler RIP

  1. Tommaso Gervasutti says:

    I really enjoyed it. The woodland and scrubland of my memories enjoyed it.

    All the best, Davide

  2. deemikay says:

    Poor thing…

  3. Crafty Green Poet says:

    sorry about the dead one, they are very numerous though and probably healthier in terms of overall population than the sparrows are.

    Funnily enough I’ve seen a lot of willow warblers recently, having become used to only ever hearing them.

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