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Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Eleven Plus and Birds in Season

Bird fanciers have been called a variety of names over the years. True ornithologists would hate to be called twitchers. I grew up in the Southern Hemisphere so the birds of Britain and Europe are mostly a closed book. I have never really understood why grown men and women would converge on a cold and damp marsh to look through binoculars at a rare and strange bird. Anecdotal evidence seems to point to avid bird studiers crossing generations.

For the second day in a row we have had a visitor we have never seen before. Our copy of `The Observer’s Book of Birds’ has 243 species with 100 colour and 101 black and white illustrations. This is the 1979 edition and on page 171 there is a colour picture of a Sylvia Atricapilla. This is where I have to declare my ignorance – I had never heard of a Sylvia Atricapilla.

Fortunately the explanation of the warbler is comprehensive and entertaining. The warbler is a summer visitor and is expected between April and October. Our one has arrived a little early. We know the bird is a male because of its grey-brown plumage and black cap.

The little bird seems to be attracted by the winter food that is cast onto the lawn on a regular basis. The book says that the bird eats insects, flies and berries. The insects and flies may have been attracted to the garden by the scattered food.

Of course by now every one in Britain will know that we are discussing the feeding habits of a `Black Cap’. (A problem with being attracted to Black Caps is that Judges used to slip on a black cap before sentencing someone to death.)

In time to come children writing eleven plus examinations could be acknowledged by a series of names. Verbal reasoning seems to be a reasonably common eleven plus subject. What about `verbalisers’? There are some eleven plus regions when mathematics and verbal and non verbal reasoning are examined. What about `reasoners’?

We could also include parents in the eleven plus vocabulary. What about `worriers’?

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