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Word of the day: yaffle

Uncle B saw one of these in the garden today. It is a European Green Woodpecker. Not his picture, though — the little peckerhead moved too fast.

I had a poke around the web, which informed me that the green woodpecker’s call is a liquid laughing yaffle.

Liquid laughing yaffle. Well, I never.

Only one document added ‘liquid’ to the mix, but they pretty much all say laughing yaffle. You might be forgiven for thinking ‘yaffle’ is a general term for a kind of sound, but no. It’s specific to the green woodpecker, which is also called a ‘yaffle’.

Pity. It seemed such a promising word.

You can make up your mind whether this sounds like a laughing yaffle to you. I’m torn.

Which brings us to Woody, who was not modelled after a European green woodpecker, but a pileated woodpecker, which also has a laughing call. The deep lore of Wikipedia tells me that the inspiration was an acorn woodpecker that pecked holes in Walter Lantz’s honeymoon cabin. He wanted to shoot it, but his wife suggested he make a cartoon about it instead. It became his most famous character.

Why don’t my life ass-aches ever turn into award-winning triumphs?

Aforementioned wife, Carol Stafford, became the fifth and final voice of Woody Woodpecker, though she asked not to be credited for some years. She thought kids wouldn’t like it if Woody was voiced by a girl. (I thought she was also the voice of Talky Tina, but I was wrong. That was June Foray, who also played Rocky the Squirrel).

And that’s it. Man, I hated Woody Woodpecker.

September 9, 2019 — 8:08 pm
Comments: 13

Mindin’ my own damn business

Near miss with a mad old bird over the weekend. I’m walking in the field next door, and I hear this hissing. I reckon I was a feather away from a swan attack. Those emeffers can peck. And also fly.

I wonder if it has babies.

Took a walk in the field on the other side today. Way down at the end, there’s an abandoned orchard. I nicked a bucket of apples and a bucket of damsons. I had the owner’s permission, though, so that kind of took the fun out of it.

And that’s all I got. Been an irritating sort of day, really. Other than the apples.

August 28, 2019 — 9:23 pm
Comments: 7

My, what a big boy

There’s always a falconry exhibit at these country shows, but I think this is the first time I saw someone exercise a bald eagle. Impressive.

The falconer explained that they do lose them from time to time (including while doing shows), but they have fancy gps collars now, hooked to fancy phone apps. He says if one flies off and doesn’t reappear for a while, he texts the bird: you are lost and collar texts back his location, including altitude. Neat.

This photo (and several other good ones) courtesy of Uncle B.

Oh! Speaking of neat apps, one of my elderly buds was telling me about the app that controls her hearing aids. She can do things you expect, like adjust bass and treble and volume and so on, but the app will also broadcast to her hearing aids. So she can listen to music or podcasts. Even better, during a lecture, she can ask to leave her phone at the podium and it will broadcast the speech back to her.

Technology: making geriatrics cool.

August 20, 2019 — 8:08 pm
Comments: 7

Ending the week on another chicken

Rooster in a flower pot. He’s making the angry face because that’s the only face a chicken can make; he’s actually blissing out paddling around in the soil. Uncle B kindly left this pot full of loose compost for them and they take turns at it, having a dirt bath.

He’s a beautiful boy, but very definitely Number Two Roo.

We just got back from a party of the ‘one glass of wine and some cheese on a stick’ kind. And very enjoyable it was, too.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

July 26, 2019 — 9:12 pm
Comments: 7

Out the kitchen door

There’s something surreal about watching a small group of chickens. I think it’s an evolutionary thing – they’re constantly swivelling their heads to look around. But there’s a rhythm to it: one looks up while one looks left, then this one looks left while the third one looks down. It’s like a poultry Bob Fosse dance routine.

Downright hypnotic.

That, incidentally, is out the kitchen door. Sooner or later, they all discover the kitchen.

June 25, 2019 — 9:02 pm
Comments: 6

Happy solstice!

My big boy, wishing you a happy longest day.

We’re considering putting the heat on tonight. Global warming has hit us especially hard this Summer, just as the BBC et al have declared a giant hand-flappy climate emergency. You know. For all the warming.

Their instincts are unerring.

We were going to sit out tonight and look for fairies, but it’s way too cold. Also, we got a txt from our tame fox-shooter: he’s decided to go hunting in our garden as soon as it’s fully dark. I reckon he has a night scope.

Good weekend, everyone!

June 21, 2019 — 8:12 pm
Comments: 4

Two hours old

Get an incubator, they said. Don’t worry, they said, not all of the eggs will hatch. Buy plenty!

Got an incubator. Got 100% hatch. Up to my bits in chicklets. They’re a couple of weeks old now. Where am I going to put them all?

Sorry, I’d hoped to get the whole blog thing resolved by posting time today, but honest-to-dog you’ve never seen so much poop in your life.

June 17, 2019 — 8:51 pm
Comments: 17

Not my chicken. Not my cat.

The look on that bird’s face.

Little Boo is not bad about chasing chickens. He’s had a go because it’s such fun, but he backed down when I yelled at him.

He’s responsive to that. Which is, on the one hand, gratifying. But on the other hand, a little sad. Cats are supposed to be bastards, but he’s incredibly shy and eager to please.

Jack was such an unrepentant chicken chaser that I literally wondered if he was deaf. The screaming and the throwing things, it did nothing.

Another picture pinched from my chicken-focused social media. Because I’ve had a lovely laid-back Friday afternoon and I’m lazy. Good weekend, all!

March 29, 2019 — 10:37 pm
Comments: 13

Please enjoy this luminous chicken

I brought work home tonight, so I fished this off my phone camera for you in lieu of a post. The limited dynamic range of a phone camera means I get the occasional delightful mess like this image.

This is Jenny, as fine a chicken as I’ve ever known. Fox got her. Still sore about it.

And tomorrow? Dead Pool Round 117. See you here!

January 17, 2019 — 10:11 pm
Comments: 5

Swan goes here

There’s been a swan in this spot for the past few nights. I spotted him when I was out looking for the kitten (he’s nine months old now, the Wandering Age). I saw something white in the canal and thought it was an overcoat (yeah, my first thought was a dead body), but it was a sleepy floaty swan.

I can’t get over how swanny this place is. I mean, we had them in ones and twos and threes back in Rhode Island. But here? One foggy morning, some years ago, I stood in the field across the road and counted 35 of them.

(Ah, yes. Here it is. December 31, 2008).

A bunch of them flew over the car this afternoon. I bet it was a dozen. Their wings make the most extraordinary mechanical whuffing sound when they fly. I wonder if my ditch swan has joined them in migration.

An old farmer told me when you see them here on the coast in Winter it means a cold snap inland.

January 14, 2019 — 9:22 pm
Comments: 9