The Firetail*

Around the old and ruined wall,
About the dead and hollow tree,
The firetail's ‘tweet-tut’ fretting call
Keeps up a teasing melody.
It starts at every passer-by,
And boys that by its dwelling roam
Well know its danger-daunting cry
And watch it till its ventures home.
Its nest is made of hair and moss
And down and cobwebs very fine;
Its eggs are blue withouten gloss,
I've found as many oft as nine.
The female has a fiery tail,
And is a dull and sandy brown,
But beautiful appears the male
With crimson breast and jetty crown.

* ( Clare's 'Firetail' is the Redstart)

John Clare, Bird Poems
introduced by Peter Levi (London: Folio Society, 1980)

Read by Chris Packham on BBC TV's "Spring Watch' in early June 2013


Lionel Little said...

Chris Packham missed a word in the title. he should have said: 'The Firetail's nest.' It's from that poem that he quoted.
If you Google: 'Where her blues eggs in safety lie.' The site top of the list is this blog spot, where the Firetail's nest was reproduced in September 2004.

Both poems refer to the Redstart's habit of making shrill calls when near the nest, something the presenters found hard to explain (On the i player it's at about the 38th minute in episode 6).

Arborfield said...

Thank you SO much Lionel... now we know where to find both!