Memories of Irish Birdsong

Liam Heneghan in The Irish Times:

1. My mother once saw the chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs; in Irish: “Rí Rua”) take a shit on Grafton Street and she scolded him. He just kept repeating his distinctive call “pink, pink, pink, trup,” over and over again, but you could kinda tell that he was mortified. Good bird, really; had trouble later with the auld drugs, and got very stout. Died way too young. In the eighties, those birds had a string of great hits.

2. I worked one summer on the Cork Train on the food trolley. A young fella with me in the kitchen car was really into the skylark (Alauda arvensis, in Irish: “Fuiseog”). He could play skylark’s famous guitar riff on his knock-off Les Paul (you know the one, it goes “chirrup… chirrup, trrrp”). Claimed the skylark did not play a real Gibson either. I will never forget that little detail; I lost touch with that kid later on.

3. Back in the day, I’d hear corncrakes (Crex crex; in Irish: “Traonach”) along the Co Mayo coast all the time. They are a rare breed now, of course; almost extinct. Once when I was pushing my bike up a laneway I saw the corncrake standing with his sister outside a cottage. He must have thought I had looked at his sister funny, as he snarled “kerrx-kerrx” at me and started to fling his droppings. I was told afterwards that the whole family was mad. Brothers all musicians in America.

More here.