I recently learnt, when reading about them, that starlings were good mimics. So I am not too surprised when I read this morning in Marcel Pagnol's Le Chateau de ma Mere, the second volume of Souveniers d'enfance, set in the hills of Provence, the following exchange between him and his friend Lili on the question of starlings. Marcel is speaking:
"My uncle Jules has told me that you can tame them".
"Certainly you can. My brother had one of them, and it could speak, but it spoke only patois".
"I, on the other hand," I said, "will teach it French".
"Don't be too sure of it. These birds are country birds".
With Spring not far off, I collect some compost from the compost heap, and just as I notice the absence of a robin, ever present at the heap last year, there is a chirp and flutter, and here is one again. Is it my friened of last year? It was certainly quick to spot me and to make use of me as a turner-up of delicious bugs. I hope so.
I unpack seed potatoes and place them in egg boxes to encourage them to sprout as a prelude to planting. The process is called chitting.