Thursday, 11 June 2015

Robin romps it

So the results are in. The National Bird Vote was easily won by the Robin, very much as expected, although several of the other placings in the Top 10 were surprising, I thought. Barn Owl in second place, for a start, and Puffin as low as 10th. I also raised an eyebrow at Wren making it into fourth - it's pleasing that so many people voted for what is, much of the time, our commonest bird, given that it goes unnoticed much of the time.

Of course there's plenty of discussion going on as to whether it was the right choice. Blackbird (3rd) was predictably popular, no doubt on account of its familiarity and its glorious song, and I wouldn't have minded it winning. There was a strong lobby for Hen Harrier (which came in ninth), in a bid to highlight the illegal persecution of this raptor by shooting interests. I'm glad that the poll has helped raise the profile of what's going on, and the failure of successive governments to take action to address it, but I'm not sure it would have been a suitable national bird.

My own feeling is that it should go to a species that is in some way either particularly British, or culturally significant within these islands. Gannet was one of my choices from the original longlist, because we have such a high proportion of the world's population, and because it has so long been important both as an icon and as a source of food, etc., but all things considered, I'm not going to complain about Robin winning.

One thing you always notice, when you see them on the Continent, is that they're quite different birds there - less bold, less confiding, and very much a typically shy, elusive woodland species, rather than the urban adventurer and gardener's friend we see here. Presumably that's because they have tended to be hunted elsewhere, while here an association with Christmas helped protect them (we have a longer and fuller history of eating some other small bird species than you might expect). So, well done to the Robin, and even more so to David Lindo, whose idea got everyone talking about birds in the first place.

1 comment:

Poetry Pleases! said...

Dear Matt

I didn't vote in this particular election but had I done so, I would definitely have voted for the magpie - a beautiful, highly intelligent and generally underrated bird.

Best wishes from Simon R. Gladdish