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Posts Tagged ‘birds’

Goosey, Goosey by Malva

Posted by shirleycurran on 7 May 2021

Anyone who has solved Malva’s previous Listeners had a good inkling about what to expect in this one, and he left us with little doubt with his title, ‘Goosey, Goosey’, though that reminded me of the nursery rhyme about the old man who wouldn’t say his prayers. (Aren’t nursery rhymes brutal! The poor old fellow was thrown down the stairs.)

I was slightly worried when I scanned the clues, colour-coding them and the spaces in the carte-blanche grid so that we could work out the lengths of the eight thematic entries (three 8s, one 7, two 6s, a 5 and a 4). Not a lot of alcohol there.

Yes, birds are not a very boozy theme but was Malva going to retain his place in the Elite Listener Setters’ Oenophile Outfit? Of course he was, but he had disguised his tipple very well, ‘Quilting party, maybe, one beginning to repair pillowcase (4)’. We remove an extra ‘one’ to use later to construct one of those clues (LOWAN = base + one) and decide it’s a sewing BEE doing the quilting with R(epair) added on to get the BEER – pillowcase indeed! Cheeers,Malva!

The clues were generous and we had soon ‘cold-solved’ most of them with sixteen small extra words highlighted to be converted to eight definitions of unclued entries which would surely be birds, but with those unclued entries, the start of the gridfill was not easy. We had solved the four clues to 10-letter words, ALBITISING, SHOPWALKER, TERRA VERTE and UNASSAILED, but they had to mesh with eight little 4-letter words, one of which was going to be a bird (LOON = look + performing / LO + ON) and I had a couple of false starts. It was the ARMOIRE that finally gave us the way in (through the wardrobe, of course) since it was one of two 7-letter entries and the other had to be a bird (BLUECAP = bawdy + top).

Five more birds flew in: KILLDEER = ice + roe, LONGSPUR = yearn + root, SANDPEEP = smooth + pink, HAGLET = witch + allowed, and DUNLIN = horse + pool. How subtle of Malva to select sixteen definition elements that would not speak for themselves until the theme was identified. We still needed bird number nine whose odd letters were S?P?U?K?R. TEA is a great helper and suggested SAPSUCKER. Like all but two of those birds, he was unknown to us, but we knew he would be what was required. That was a most enjoyable solve. Thanks, Malva.

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Migratory Birds by Malva

Posted by shirleycurran on 15 Mar 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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‘Milky’ by Malva

Posted by Encota on 15 Jun 2018

Malva L4504

I’d first of all like to offer my thanks to Malva for a nicely themed puzzle!

When I see Malva’s name it reminds me of a coffee advert that used to be on when I was a child, for something – I think it was – called “Mellow Birds” (or was that Mallow Birds?), so when the Title ‘Milky’ was also present I was doubly surprised.

And, as an aside, I see from the Listener Setter list that Malva used to be Dipper.  Why the change from a bird-themed name to a plant-themed one, I wonder?  Intriguing … I’d love to hear!

I think this was the third Malva I’ve solved – what with MINSMERE delightfully featuring in the first and RED-NECKED PHALAROPE in the second (I always see that pencilled into my copy of Chambers Crossword Dictionary whenever I refer to the ‘birds’ list …).

Initially PETROL/PETREL in the Thematic clues was a gentle way of confirming the Bird-based theme, in the Thematic clue:

Fuel converting oxygen to energy (6)

And I spent far too long trying to solve my last one:

Someone keen on confrontation appears at the end of fight and brawl (11)”,

knowing at that stage that it was a bird but incorrectly trying to shoe-horn in a T for the end of (figh)T, rather than spotting the charade SPAR ROW HAWK.  D’oh!

I also should have read the Preamble and noticed from the start that the rest of the clues were in conventional order.  I didn’t miss it for long – but long enough!  I’ll add that to my ever-growing list of PICNIC* items.

I’m hoping there’s no other 6-letter synonym for Milky that is also a Bird, so I have opted for GENTLE.


Tim / Encota

*The usual:   Problem In Chair Not In Crossword


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Milky by Malva

Posted by shirleycurran on 15 Jun 2018

We’ve been struggling lately so it was a relief to see Malva at the head of this week’s crossword. “Ah, probably birds again” I said and had spotted FALCON, PETREL and VIRGINIAN QUAIL before the other Numpty joined me and began a speed solve of the relatively generous clues. Well that was a gift of an anagram wasn’t it? ‘Eccentric aunt living in Iraq, having left behind outskirt of Newport (14, two words)’ We removed NT from AUNTLIVINGINIRAQ* and there was a bird that wasn’t even in Mrs Bradford’s list – and soon we had RINGDOVE, SONG THRUSH, SPARROWHAWK and HUMMINGBIRD too, though we were not yet sure how they were going to fit into the lights that were appearing symmetrically when i created a putative grid on Crossword Compiler.

Of course, those other, 12-letter long anagrams leading to ENCARNALISES and CARTON PIERRE helped enormously with the grid fill and soon we were left with just those six words to complete. Of course I had been keeping an eye out for evidence that Malva retains his place at the bar but there wasn’t much drinking going on in his clues or grid. ‘After tea, Irish saint meeting solitary leaders (6)’ gave us CHA + IR +S and we suspected that even the tea was probably ‘milky’ but, at least, that did give us one extra word; SOLITARY which suddenly made it all clear. HERMIT had to fill that light at the bottom right and Chambers told me that was also a HUMMINGBIRD.

The alcohol? Well, there were wine-flavoured fruits in what turned out to be 18d, but that was about it. Cheers, anyway, Malva!

PRION was the next to fall, (or fly, if you will) “That’s a PATHOGEN” said the other Numpty and Chambers told me it is also a PETREL. The ARM had to be a MUSKET, which I now know is a SPARROWHAWK, MAVIS, our SONG THRUSH was obviously a WOMAN, QUEST filled our final light and that explained SEARCH and RINGDOVE so we were left with the FALCON or the VIRGINIAN QUAIL to paraphrase and slot below the grid and the extra word NICK to justify.

What is that bit about resolving ambiguities? Aha: I find that there is an alternative spelling for the RINGDOVE. She can be a QUIST or a QUEST so we clearly need that SEARCH to tell us which of the spellings to use. Clever!

Fortunately we have the latest edition of Chambers that reinstated that list of names in the appendices and imagine my surprise to find that COLIN is also a name for NICHOLAS so the VIRGINIAN QUAIL or COLIN took flight and our grid was full – except for that MILKY word that somehow had to define a FALCON. We wondered about MERLIN – was he white? Has a CANNON or a TERCEL anything MILKY about it? Not really. “Got it!” said the other Numpty – It’s a GENTLE.  All done and thoroughly enjoyed in just under a couple of hours. Many thanks, Malva.

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Shady Characters by Malva

Posted by shirleycurran on 14 Jul 2017

This is the second time we have met Malva. Last year he educated us about Bewick’s swans. Shady characters? We wonder what kind of criminal underworld we are going to explore this week – or are we going to ‘shade’ some characters? The preamble gives us one word we never like – extra letters in the wordplay are going to form discrete ‘jumbles’. It gets worse, we are to arrange the first and last letters of a number of extra words into a thematic item (two words of equal length), and enter it thematically below the grid (15 letters). That sounds like another rather lengthy jumble that can somehow change from being an even number of letters to an odd number. Mystifying!

Nothing to be done but solve! Well that isn’t quite true. I scan the clues to check whether Malya retains his admission to the Setters’ Oenophile outfit and find quite a few birds and animals, gulls, kestrels, a pigeon, fish, sheep, a small dog and a pig, but not much alcoholic evidence just that ‘Something that matures light beer (4)’ Well, that must be LAGER with the L giving us the first of our extra letters and the AGER being something that matures. Of course, we found the RED later on and used it in the endgame, so “Cheers, Malva!”

We worked steadily through the clues and the grid filled with nothing leaping (or flying) out at us except the fact that the extra letters were grouping themselves into colours. LLYEOW, ENGRE, BULE and EDR appeared, discretely in that they were separated from each other by those extra words PROPAGANDA, COMPATIBLE, ATTACK, OMNIVORE, NO-ONE, PONDER and LASHED. I kick myself that I couldn’t spot the extra word in ‘Woman losing her head and becoming a devotee of renaissance critic (5)’ Clearly CELIA or DELIA was going to be decapitated (and = ‘N’) becoming ELIAN. The other Numpty said ‘Well, Lamb wasn’t renaissance was he?’ But we were just a little confused about our last colour where we had the letters RGBU – GRUB? We had opted for BURG as our NW town, when clearly it had to be BURY. That, together with TAN BUTTER and SAND produced our last colour, RUBY.

We had been solving for well over an hour and had a dinner interval with the grid staring at me. When will I learn to read the preamble? (I’ve been saying that for years!) In a flash (or swoop, or flutter) all was clear. ‘How one thematic answer must be entered …’ it was as simple as that. ‘Yellowhammer’ I crowed, ‘Redstart, Bluetit, Sandpiper – so it has to be Greenshank, Tanager and that leaves us BUTTER and RUBY – of course, Rubythroat and Butterbump’ – well, Mrs Bradford helped with those of course – but she didn’t help me to sort out those letters PA CE HD AK OE NE PR LD RE. I think that was a fairly tough endgame but there was a logical way to approach it.

If 18 letters had to be reduced to 15, three were clearly going to be the colour and that was most likely to be RED. Feeding the rest into an anagram solver suggested PHALAROPE and CDEEKN (NECKED, obviously), and Auntie Google helped out, as usual, with pictures of the creature.  So there we were – finished! Well, not quite; we had to use each of those colours  to enter one of the thematic items and it did say ‘Shady Characters’ in the title so I felt that we had to write those characters in colour, but what if we simply highlighted their lights? And what about the slight ambiguity of the BLUE-EYE mating up in that top corner with the TANAGER – were we to opt for him and split the shared cell? No, I opted for the BLUETIT and coloured the letters and their cells too. Well, I think it is a pretty solution. (I had, at one point, wondered whether our fifteen letters were going to lead us to a RAINBOW LORIKEET with the 18 jumbled ones being its Latin Name – just imagine the rage of those solvers who don’t have a set of coloured pencils!)

Hare amongst the birds

An enjoyable solve. Thank you, Malva.

I didn’t really expect the HARES to be mingling with that massive flight of birds but, of course, they were there in force, all over the grid, but my favourite was curled up with the yellowhammer and sandpiper.

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