Young country diary: consider the dunnock, the sparrow in disguise

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C onsider the dunnock. This gentle, soft and feathery bird flits about unnoticed, unseen, tidying away the leftover seeds of other greedy birds. It camouflages with earth, tied up in its beauty. The sparrow and dunnock are often confused. “Oh, look, there’s a sparrow,” someone may say. But it is not; it’s a unique dunnock, unknown, unheard. Its song is that of the robin but higher and sweeter. Once again, no one knows the true singer. Dunnocks fly low, popping out from the trunks of bushes. They have intricate tunnels and pathways through tall forget-me-nots and grasses. Timidly, they dance under the drooping leaves of bluebells.

Today, however, we venture out beyond the garden. We are looking for some slightly more exotic birds, the nightingale and the skylark. We walk with the breeze cooling our cheeks, till we come to the water meadow where the skylarks nest. A winding freshwater river skips through it, with blossoming hawthorn and wild damson bending over its little coves where the nightingales nest. A nightingale sings suddenly while two skylarks hover above their “nests” twittering. Their songs are high and sweet – like that of the dunnock, but the dunnock will always be there in my garden through the cold of winter and the heat of summer.
Laura, 12

Also read the YCD by Benjamin, 9: ‘This barn owl feather is my nature gift for the day’

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