Jerome Betts : Fitter's Titter

“CURLEW . . . Whaup . . . Very varied vocabulary includes characteristic loud
'quee, quee, quee, quee' . . . and a rather rare whimbrel-like titter.”


- R.S.R.Fitter, The Pocket Guide to British Birds 1952.


Though waders are loud in the purlieus
Their performance is powerless to please –
Not even the garrulous curlews
With their quotas of quadruple quees.

All the fowl in that ’52 Fitter,
The firecrest, the fulmar, the scaup,
For a rather rare whimbrel-like titter,
The seldom-heard laugh of the whaup!

Ornithology's fabulous frisson
Quite eclipsing the male bittern’s boom
Or the weird ghostly gabble of geese on
Migration aloft through the gloom!

Are my senses, at last, subtly shocked by
Something sought from Polperro to Perth?
No such luck! Once again, merely mocked by
Real whimbrels’ malevolent mirth!