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This report is taken from PN Review 183, Volume 35 Number 1, September - October 2008.

The Pure Thrush Word Martin Hayden

He sits well above chimney-height on a branch of the oak that grows out over our neighbour's garden. The oak leaves are still only tiny curls. He sits in a bend, just before its last divide into two branches and their twigs, as though part of the tree's edging forwards into space. I can hear him from where I sit in the study at the front of the house. It is late April, and he seems to have been singing, for most hours of the twenty-four, for the last six weeks. I heard him this morning when I woke up and moved around briefly, at 3.35. A few tentative whistles and calls, as if he were just waking. More often I wake at 4.30, and he's well into his song. We sit in the conservatory for meals, and he's vocal at all of them. If I go down to the shed to fetch my bike I glance up. Often it's a minute or so before I track him down, that small and inconspicuous creature (his beautiful speckled front only visible from my study window when he suddenly occupies the gap on the step by the open gate). His body trembles and his tail quivers with the intensity of his singing.

Catch-it catch-it catch-it! Can you? Wait-wait-wait. Brilliant brilliant brilliant! Love it love it love it! Look-look-look-look!

Head ducked slightly with the effort of projection, he is in communication a long way out. ...

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