Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Birding and musical genres

I was watching a BBC4 programme about the music of the 1970s and the discussion entered into a dissection of the differing musical genres from that decade. This got me thinking about which species of birds would be placed into these same categories, by dint of plumage or jizz - see what you think...

Punks
The Johnny Rottens and Sid Vicious' of the birding world are those species that punch above their weight and get on the nerves of the other species around them. My choice is the Water Rail, which will terrorise all else in a reed bed, is an obnoxious small bird that will attack larger species for the sheer hell of it and squeal away with the vocal sharpness of most punk singers. Plus, Water Rails possess attitude.

New Romantics
The genre full of 'dandy' highwaymen and coiffured barnets. Think Spandau Ballet prancing the stage in tights, Adam Ant deciding whether or not he was a pirate, and Simon LeBon miming from the deck of a yacht - but it could have been summer-plumaged grebes, displaying Ruffs and that show-off crest-lifter the Hoopoe. Come to think of it, was Boy George actually a Bee-eater?

Folk
My choices for bearded, ale supping look-a-likes (and that's just the women -  boom-boom) have to be species that are of Albion, redolent of fields, haystacks and John Barleycorn. Skylarks and Yellowhammers are obvious contenders, as are Grey Partridges (but not the 'johnny foreigner' Pheasant). Barn Owls would have had a shout at joining in with Fairport Convention, as too would the inhabitants of a rookery, backdrop to many a tale of wronged peasants and murderous landed gentry.

Jazz
And when I say Jazz, I mean freeform... Long-tailed Tits nests, Redwing's sub-song, a screaming flock of swifts, displaying Lapwing - all loose but proficient, seemingly random but really precise. Nice...

Heavy Metal / Rock
From the preening lightweights of Jon Bon Jovi (a Jay) to the darker man-mountains of John Bonham (a Raven), this genre is populated by testosterone, hair and muscle. It is here that we will find most of the corvids (Marillion will be represented by a Magpie), skuas (especially Bonxies) and larger gulls. When casting Robert Plant, this part was given to an Arctic Skua; Black Sabbath were immature Herring Gulls and Jimmy Page flew above all in the guise of a Golden Eagle.

Pop
The froth that pleases the ear for a second but then induces bile after more than more than two plays - and in ornithological comparison, who doesn't get bored of watching an Avocet after a couple of minutes (no, hang on, think about it!), or a Black-winged Stilt for that matter. On first viewing they are pleasing to the eye, but in the longevity stakes not nearly memorable enough - a bit like most pop music to the ear.

Progressive Rock
Imagine Emerson, Lake and Palmer hanging upside down, suspended high above the auditorium; imagine Rick Wakeman dressed as an underwater Henry VIII playing a giant harpsichord; imagine a Roger Dean album cover.... now picture the cathedral-like setting of a poplar plantation with shafts of sunlight picking out fluting Golden Orioles.

Electronica
"Wir fahren fahren fahren auf der Autobahn", as sung, not only by Kraftwerk, but also by Savi's and Grasshopper Warblers.  Synthisized music belongs to the reedbed, all zips, bleeps and whirrs. A medley of calling crakes, Fan-tailed Warblers, booming Bitterns and pinging Bearded Tits - there, that's Kraftwerk's next album sorted!

You can probably tell from the twaddle above that I've not seen much recently. I've been out, but nothing to report in all honesty. As I'm unlikely to go up north for the Myrtle Warbler, you can expect more juvenile ramblings unless I get a 'rare' in the garden. But I wouldn't tell you about that if it happens - have you seen those 'birding types'?

4 comments:

  1. Have to admit, I spent a highly entertaining 5 mins watching a Bonxie harrassing the heck outta a flock of gulls - accompanied to Metallica. Shortest Straw would've been the ideal track, alas we only had Enter Sandman but it certainly added a certain something to the action!

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    1. Such music has passed me by Seth - the heaviest I ever got was Led Zeppelin

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  2. Think you've got the wrong genre for Bittern - surely that booming rythmic bass is more akin to some heavy roots reggae.

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    1. Ah, reggae - I forgot that genre Skev. Maybe Corncrake could back Bittern up...

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