The Irish Coal Tit – A Dublin Diary

by Suzan Abrams

Captions: Pictured are the Irish coal tit and a crow

Dublin’09: Sometime between the elusive hours of a high spring and an early summer, a striking couple comprising the Irish Coal Tit species would take up residence atop a tree in the next door garden.

What a quarrelsome pair indeed.

Her features looked tired and ruffled, his brooding expression was in turn, stern. They would argue heatedly in the twilight and at dawn and this boasting a haphazard operatic aria, designed to drown the sweeter sounds of the Lyric FM channel on Radio Ireland. Surely, it was a symphony afforded only to a murder of crows.

I have a good view of trees and sky from the flat.

Once at 2.00 am, I watched as twigs were flung with dangerous alacrity, across the hedge. Another time, in an alarming gesture, a cluster of frail windblown leaves, appeared suddenly at the window pane. Cranky, they pleaded earplugs. The irritable sparrows thundered their warning twitters with eager regularity but to no avail.

I often wondered why the beautifully decked out birds quarrelled.

Was he a drunk from having downed one birdbath  too many? Were they on the run from a thuggish Limerick swallow? Was she an ambitious nag, greedy for a necklace of juicy slugs and worms? Did she wish she had set her nest on higher ground with the guilty memory of a handsome Great Tit that had once wooed her up a cliff on the delicious Howth coastline?

They often settled down when the day had finally turned to light. Perched together in peaceful unison, the contented pair would now sunbathe in the middle of the heatwave. There they basked, soothed to a hypnotic bliss on the stone ledge.

The scores of puzzled sparrows on our street complained of incurable insomnia. As a sympathetic neighbour, I could think of nothing better than to negotiate a happy consolation with our humble bag of chips from the late night takeaway.

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