The Goldfinch

The Mauritshuis in Den Haag have just launched a brilliantly well designed and fun website all about The Goldfinch, the tiny, world famous painting by Carel Fabritius.
If you like a) art b) Dutch art from the Golden Age c) a really clever web site, d) birds including goldfinches – I like all of those – you could do worse than spend a relaxing 10 mins at

Veel plezier!


Crested Tit

A few posts back, I uploaded a delightful graphic of a blue tit I’d nicked off the twittersphere. I hoped that I might find some more in the same style. I don’t usually reference work on my blog, it would be a recipe for disaster and involve all manner of disciplinary hearings, yet working with talented chaps with Macs, such as “Mr. Dark Shadow” – a regular reader – has proved useful as my desire has been realised.

Crested tit

He kindly offered to attempt a new species in a similar style, I asked if I could have a Crested Tit. These are one of my favourite birds, even though I’ve never (yet) seen one in the wild, since they only live deep in the pine forests of the Scottish highlands.

As you can seen from the photo below, “Mr. Dark Shadow” has done a brilliant job characterising the jizz of the Crested Tit in his image. It’s fantastic!

Thank you very much Mr. Shadow!



Water of Leith Birds

On the way to work, I was pleased to see, for the first time this year and for the first time in a couple of years, a male Goldeneye on the Water of Leith. The males are beautifully decorated and the one I saw was chasing a female mallard in an aggresive manner. They are aptly named and have those easily identifiable stripes and cheek patch to distinguish them from the similarly sized Tufted Duck. I’ll have to bring the bins in to work to have a closer look.


While not up to the professional quality of the shot above, the colouring of the male Goldeneye reminds me of the male Goosander. Again these are spotable on the Water of Leith, as you can see from this shot from my smartphone. I’m not sure what collective noun applies to Goosanders but it’s probably quite rare to see this many in one spot. There were a couple out of shot also. The males have a dark green head like the Goldeneye and the females a brown head.



Goldfinch escape!

As mentioned in a previous post, one of my favourite paintings seen on my trip to The Netherlands was The Goldfinch by Carl Fabritius. A clever chap called Peter Neijenhoff used his PhotoShop skills to set the Goldfinch free. I approve the poor thing’s endured 360 years of captivity.



One of my favourite paintings which I saw on my holiday in the Netherlands was a small painting of a Goldfinch by Carl Fabritius. The image below (click for a zoom in) does not reproduce the colours of the original but it does show the skill with which he captured the “Jizz” of the species, or if one were an adept of Gerard Manley Hopkins, one my say the “haecceitas” the “thisness” of the bird.

If one looks closely in the film of Tracey Chevalier’s novel The Girl with the Pearl Earring, there is a shot of the interior of Vermeer’s house, which shows the Goldfinch hanging on the wall. That’s a nice touch by whoever in the production team thought of it.

Sadly Fabritius was killed in the 1652 explosion of the Delft gunpowder magazine, which destroyed much of the city.



Chicken town

This poem by John Cooper Clarke, who I used to see regularly in the late 70s and early 80s at punk gigs, is a useful reminder that a limited vocabulary need not be a limit to expression. The mood of despair from 1980s Thatcher’s Britain evident in the poem, is as poignant and probably as true now as it was then.

Evidently Chicken Town

By John Cooper Clarke

the fucking cops are fucking keen
to fucking keep it fucking clean
the fucking chief’s a fucking swine
who fucking draws a fucking line
at fucking fun and fucking games
the fucking kids he fucking blames
are nowhere to be fucking found
anywhere in chicken town

the fucking scene is fucking sad
the fucking news is fucking bad
the fucking weed is fucking turf
the fucking speed is fucking surf
the fucking folks are fucking daft
don’t make me fucking laugh
it fucking hurts to look around
everywhere in chicken town

the fucking train is fucking late
you fucking wait you fucking wait
you’re fucking lost and fucking found
stuck in fucking chicken town

the fucking view is fucking vile
for fucking miles and fucking miles
the fucking babies fucking cry
the fucking flowers fucking die
the fucking food is fucking muck
the fucking drains are fucking fucked
the colour scheme is fucking brown
everywhere in chicken town

the fucking pubs are fucking dull
the fucking clubs are fucking full
of fucking girls and fucking guys
with fucking murder in their eyes
a fucking bloke is fucking stabbed
waiting for a fucking cab
you fucking stay at fucking home
the fucking neighbors fucking moan
keep the fucking racket down
this is fucking chicken town

the fucking train is fucking late
you fucking wait you fucking wait
you’re fucking lost and fucking found
stuck in fucking chicken town

the fucking pies are fucking old
the fucking chips are fucking cold
the fucking beer is fucking flat
the fucking flats have fucking rats
the fucking clocks are fucking wrong
the fucking days are fucking long
it fucking gets you fucking down
evidently chicken town