“Tu-whit, tu-who, a merry note”

Chilly walk on the Hills today.

When icicles hang by the wall
And Dick the shepherd blows his nail
And Tom bears logs into the hall
And milk comes frozen home in pail,
When blood is nipp’d and ways be foul,
Then nightly sings the staring owl,
Tu-whit;
Tu-who, a merry note,
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.
When all aloud the wind doth blow
And coughing drowns the parson’s saw
And birds sit brooding in the snow
And Marian’s nose looks red and raw,
When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl,
Then nightly sings the staring owl,
Tu-whit;
Tu-who, a merry note,
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.

Shakespeare, Love’s Labour’s Lost

We’ve been hearing a wonderful burbling noise on the hills at night. Could it be a nightjar? Highly unlikely: they are very rare summer visitors (feeding on large moths) so, after much research, it seems it may be a tawny owl. We certainly do have a lot of tawnies here, tu-whit tu-who-ing. But the burbling is lovely.

 

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