All go here in the (usually) drab, leaden November weeks – but this November it’s all gone... well.... "virid".
Verdant. Bright green. Sprouting. Fresh. Virile.
Firstly, we have not one but TWO green woodpeckers visiting the garden daily these days. An adult male (which has been visiting us since it was a youngster, clad in juvenile barred plumage) and now an adult female – which our male, for now, seems to insist on chasing away. I’m sure that will change!
I’ve always thought green woodpeckers are belters of birds – like jays and wagtails, they just seem to ooze character – so I’m chuffed we have green woodpeckers (as well as great spotted) visiting the garden.
The green woodpeckers like to “ant” in our back garden (basically probe around in the wet soil for anthills (of which we have many – by design from me!) rather than look for grubs in our trees like their smaller, great spotted cousins do.
Green woodpeckers have the scientific name of Picus viridis in case you didn’t know. Viridis I’ve already explained (above) but what about Picus?
I don’t get time these days to add to my “zoonames” website where I started to investigate the classical nomenclature of our birds but if I did, Picus would be a good entry on that website.
You see, Picus, in Roman mythology, was a King. The first king of Latium and himself son of Saturn. He was a bit of a pretty-boy by all accounts and a bit of a dab hand at hunting too – even though he liked to wear his red cloak and gold cloak ring out whilst hunting. The bleedin’ dandy fop!
Aaaaaanywaaaay… one day, whilst out hunting, the local witch-temptress and goddess, Circe (pronounced sursee), saw the foppish King Picus and thought to herself “I’ll have a bit of that, don’t mind if I do”. So, she cast a spell whereby an illusion of a boar running into the woods would tempt the handsome King to follow her into her honey-trap.
King Picus spied the boar and followed it on foot into the tangled forest – when suddenly the boar disappeared in a puff of smoke – to be replaced by the lusty temptress.
Picus rejected her carnal advances (insisting he only could love his wife, the nymph Canens) and so angered by this was the witch-goddess, she turned poor King Picus into a woodpecker. Many woodpeckers of the world these days still exhibit King Picus’ red (or purple) cloak in their plumage.
There you have it then – our virid, green woodpeckers are named after the handsome yet tragic King Picus of Latium
The videos and photos below are all of these royal birds in our garden, yesterday (and today).
But the viridity (is that a word like virility?!) doesn’t stop with the green woodpeckers in our garden at present. Oh no!
Regular readers of this blog miggghhhht just about remember a post I made a few years ago, about the gurt big colony of rose-ringed parakeets at a sewage farm not so far from us. ("Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough").
The rose-ringed (or ring-necked) parakeet is a lurid, virid bird but it’s scientific name of Psittacula krameria just is a nod to an Austrian biologist (Kramer) who died in the mid-18th Century – and unfortunately doesn’t even begin to offer a nod to their ridiculous green colour.
We’ve often had one or two in the garden but as I don’t tend to feed any birds other than jays in our garden, they (the parakeets) don’t tend to hang around.
UNTIL NOW THAT IS.
Look at the poor photo below and tell me how many parakeets you can see in the bare ash tree at the end of our garden.
I’ll tell you if you can’t count past five or so (I know what you lot are like!).
ELEVEN of the screeching, squawking lurid, virid beasties.
I know they’re not well-liked by people on the west-side of London (where the majority of them live – think Kew, Richmond, Barnes, Esher etc) these days but for now they certainly brighten up our damp, grey garden.
OK grapple fans, that shallot for now.
I hope you aren’t *cough* green with envy at my tales of our virid woodpeckers and lurid parrots…
I’ll see you soon.