Listen With Others

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Migratory Birds by Malva

Posted by shirleycurran on 15 March 2019

Haven’t we met Malva’s birds before? We had an astonishing flock this time, forty-three in all, I think, if we count the HERON and TIT that migrated from the clues into the grid, as well as the three jumbled ones. It didn’t take us long to find the ones in the clues and to see that they each had to migrate to a different clue, though I had never heard of a KOKAKO or a PRION. The last three, the rather confused wee things, the CRAKE, TEREK and VIREO were more difficult to spot.

Alcohol? Not a drop but some fairly gory eating going on. ‘Old noble juror reversing right to eat innards of raven (5)’ We switched the raven for the prion and we reversed RT round its innards to give us TRIOR. We were decapitating birds, ‘Don Quixote maybe decapitating grebe in front of King Edward (6)’ – we swapped the grebe for a stilt, removed its head and got TILTER – and had a Maori meal of the last of buzzards, for just over a pound. It took us a while to work out where we were going to get our T to put into KAI to give KATI. Was it the tit, the peewit, the parakeet, the stilt or the avocet? We needed to keep a careful record of the birds that had migrated in order to suss the wordplay of our last few clues.

SCRIGGLED was our final entry and fortunately, we knew we still had that grebe to place so we were able to anagram SCALDING GREBE less BEAN to produce a word that Chambers tells me means writhed – ‘After spitting out jumping bean, scalding pintail twisted and writhed about (9)’

What can I say? I thought Malva was a bird lover, but we have a peewit that’s lost wing, that decapitated grebe, a half-hearted stork, pigeons that go weird, a very sad swift lacking bone, odd parts of a kite used to make rosin and mangled bird remains all over the grid – a mighty massacre, almost reminiscent of the Jago wren event of several years ago. It just won’t do, Malva! I wonder whether your setter’s blog will tell us that you have quit the twitching and are taking up cookery, train-spotting or stamp collecting.

But it was a great grid to fill and a lot of fun. We’ll look forward to the next flight.

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