21 June 2013

jay feathers

i'm always on the look out for blue things in nature as they are quite rare and always feel a little bit exotic. since i've been back in cornwall i seem to have found a lot of dead birds - sadly most of them  have been hit by cars - and most of them have been blue. last year i found a baby blue tit and a kingfisher. a few weeks ago i came across a dead jay whilst cycling home from the studio and a couple of days ago i found another blue tit but this one was ringed. above the number it was inscribed 'british museum london' and i had a stunned moment where i thought it may really have flown all the way down from the big smoke! unfortunately, nothing quite as exciting and neither does it have anything to do with the british museum. but the british trust for ornithology will write and tell me where and when it was ringed.

as a child i used to collect interesting and unusual feathers. i particularly liked the spotted ones from woodpeckers i seem to remember! all my life i've been keen to find a jay's dazzling blue wing feather but i've never come across one. often when i see a jay, without realising it, i still say in my head 'please drop me one of your blue wing feathers'..... but alas, they never do. so in some ways i was quite excited to find a whole one. it meant i could be a bit generous and give a wing to a friend! she has also buried the head in her garden so she can keep the skull.

the feathers are unbelievably vibrant and beautiful. an irish friend of mine said they used to be worn in people's hats for good luck in ireland in the olden days. they were also used on fishing flies to catch salmon, trout and bass.

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