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Thread subject: An Early Birdwatcher from 1662
Name Date Message
Celeste 07/28/05 03:44 pm I am just starting a book that was given to me by my sister, (she introduced me to Gessner's Return of the Osprey and the rest is history)

The name is "An Exhilaration of Wings" Jen Hill
The Literature of Birdwatching

On the first page it names Sir Thomas Browne, an Englishman who started a rough list of birds in 1662....The first notation on his list was the following:

"There is also a lesser sort of Agle called an
ospray wch hovers about the fennes and broads and will dippe his claws and take up fish oftimes for wch his fote is made of an extraordinarie roughnesse for the better fastening and holding of it and the like they will do unto cootes,"

I thought it was "poetic" that this early birdwatcher should first write about "ospray"!


Now, for those of you who are English......what are "cootes"?
Pam 07/28/05 04:16 pm Very quaint Celeste. That quote is obviously from the time before the ospreys nearly became extinct. The Broads and Fens are in a flat part of Norfolk where there is a lot of land reclaimed from the sea by the building of dykes, something like Holland and in fact it also has windmills and some dutch roofs to some of the houses, a reminder of the days when Dutch know-how was used to make this area into rich market-gardening land where vegetable and fruit crops are grown. There are also bulb fields, tulips and daffodils, like Holland. So with lots of marshy type water there are lots of waterfowl and a coot is a small black water bird, similar to a moorhen. The moorhen has a red beak and the coot has a white one. You can see pics of both on The Wandering Birders website at:
http://www.wanderingbirders.com/ourbirdphotos.htm. There is some talk of perhaps trying to reintroduce ospreys to the area.
Nancy L 07/28/05 04:17 pm Neat, Celeste. Loved it!
Celeste 07/28/05 04:51 pm Thank you so much Pam......
Pam 07/28/05 04:54 pm One things leads to another. Here is a link to a picture of Sir Thomas and quite a lot of fascinating information about him:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Browne
He lived in Norwich (not far from the Norfolk Broads area) for the last 45 years of his life. Virginia Woolf was an admirer and said of him:
"Few people love the writings of Sir Thomas Browne, but those that do are the salt of the earth."
Celeste 07/28/05 04:59 pm Great, great......one thing certainly leads to another.....so much to read.....so little time!
Kathy 07/28/05 05:01 pm Thank you and Celeste and Pam for the great information.
Marie 07/28/05 07:08 pm I will read this info later but right now off to see my Fledgling osprey chick at the first osprey nest that I visit regularly. Yesterday I watched it fly from the nest and to a lamp post fairly close to me........
AWESOME.
My eaglets are still hanging out at times near their nest... so I watch them gain strength each day Their agility/ability in flying has certainly increased. Parents still drop off food at the nest for them.
So good to see them doing so well.
Cecilia 07/28/05 08:59 pm I love the language:-) Does it sound like (in the last sentence) that the "ospray" eat cootes?
Melanie 07/28/05 10:31 pm There is a Cootes Paradise refuge in Ontario - I wonder if there is any connection?

I looked "Cootes" up in the dictionary - it says it is a middle English spelling of Coot, which is a marsh hen similar to the gallinule - it's a wading bird that can actually "walk" across lilly pads, a bit smaller than a chicken, dark gray with an ivory bill that extends up the forhead.

The last sentence does seem to infer that the ospray goes after cootes. Which flies in the face of everything we know. Now I'm on a mission - and I'd better get is solved quickly because I go on vacation for a week starting this Saturday.

Copyright © 2006 DPOF

Tom Throwe
Last modified: Sat Feb 18, 2006