What’s the origin of the phrase ‘Birds of a feather flock together’?
This proverb has been in use since at least the mid 16th century. In 1545 William Turner used a version of it in his papist satireThe Rescuing of Romish Fox:
“Byrdes of on kynde and color flok and flye allwayes together.”
The first known citation in print of the currently used English version of the phrase appeared in 1599, inThe Dictionarie in Spanish and English, which was compiled by the English lexicographer John Minsheu:
Birdes of a feather will flocke togither.
The phrase also appears in Benjamin Jowett’s 1856 translation of Plato’sRepublic. Clearly, if it were present in the original Greek text then, at around 380BC, Plato’s work would be a much earlier reference to it. What appears in Jowett’s version is:
Men of my age flock together; we are birds of a feather, as the old proverb says.
Plato’s text can be translated in other ways and it is safe to say it was Jowett in 1856, not Plato in 380BC, that considered the phrase to be old. The lack of any citation of it in English prior to the 16th century does tend to suggest that its literal translation wasn’t present inThe Republic– a text that was widely read by English scholars of the classics well before the 16th century.
Seagulls down at Altona Beach (on the western side of Port Phillip Bay – the bay on which the city of Melbourne was first settled in 1835).
The river behind my apartment block – the Maribyrnong River – was first explored in 1805……much earlier
Courage doesn’t always roar.
Sometimes courage is the quiet voice
at the end of the day saying,
“I will try again tomorrow.”
Mary Anne Radmacher
I was determined to do some outdoor photography yesterday.
What actually spurred me to take a camera to my medical appointment was the weather forecast of ‘light winds‘. This usually means the water is still enough to capture reflections as seen in the image on the right (taken a couple of years ago).
The bus stop outside my local medical centre takes me right down to the Maribyrnong River, a large lake and a small area of murky pond with a reed-covered island in the centre and access to a number of local birdlife.
The Maribyrnong River flows (unseen in the above image) just behind the tall reeds halfway down the frame.
To the left of the image above is the large expanse of water between the river and the residential area on the western side of the river valley. Once again poor light and I had to fiddle with some basic photo editing tools just to get this amount of detail below.
Must be 18 months since I visited the area – partly due to declining health and lack of physical ability to walk across uneven ground and of course we Melburnians stayed mostly at home during Melbourne’s 111-day lockdown and nightly curfew during 2020’s COVID.
I discovered yesterday that I can no longer see through the viewfinder (or LCD screen) since a new glasses prescription earlier in the year. So while I could see shadows and light and managed to compose a relatively good composition below, I missed the fact that the photo is out of focus (except for the bush in the foreground) until I downloaded it at home.
They say there is no such thing as poor light in photography, but yesterday there was poor light!
What to do?
Is my 10-year photography hobby at an end?
Or, do I try again ‘tomorrow’?……………. (when there’s better light).
Ever the optimist, I think I’ll try again another day.
I only had my lightweight Sony A6000 with me which doesn’t really get between thick foliage for bird photography. And with the lack of decent light, the Swamphen image was the best I could capture. I spotted about 4-5 Purple Swamphens (Porphyrion porphyrio) in or around the pond and only one Pacific Black Duck (Anas superciliosa) madly swimming up the Maribyrnong River itself (out of focus so no image to share).
Yesterday, it was nearly 4.30pm when I caught the bus down the river valley and in hindsight, I should have known there would not be enough light and just gone home after my medical appointment.
At this current stage of late Autumn, the daylight turns to a short golden hour, dusk, and then, depending on your location, pitch-black (if you’re not near street lights).
There are some spectacular Golden Hours and Sunsets in Autumn around Melbourne and the bayside suburbs though. I’ve captured many of them over the last 10 years.
But yesterday, I turned around to shoot straight into the dying sun (below). I knew from experience it would be just a silhouette.
I quickly decided there was no point staying, so walked around the rest of the pond. You can see the bus stop shelter a third of the way down the frame on the right-hand side of the image below.
You can also see there was not a single bird to be seen on this side of the pond, so even if I’d taken my Canon DSLR and Sigma 150-500mm heavy lens, I wouldn’t have made any bird photos.
I crossed the road to the bus stop going in the direction of home.
I didn’t have to wait long (and it can be up to 40 mins on this particular bus route if you’ve just missed one bus). As it climbed the suburban streets across the river valley, I could see the remnants of a spectacular sunset out the bus window.
When I got off the bus, I took a shot of what was left between the houses (below).
As I walked down my steep short road towards home I managed to capture a little more sky colour across the enormous open field next to my apartment building.
So it’s back to the archives for some images for this blog.
The photos below were taken on a ‘good’ light day 2-3 years ago.
If you learn to enjoy waiting you don’t have to wait to enjoy
HOUSE SPARROW – young female
SUPERB FAIRY-WREN – male
SPOTTED TURTLE-DOVE in the early morning ‘blue hour’
HOUSE SPARROW – young female again going by its downy breast feathers
SPOTTED TURTLE-DOVE UP CLOSE
I am lucky enough to live in an apartment with floor-to-ceiling windows in my loungeroom and look out onto a large balcony with beautiful trees and greenery as a backdrop.
I am also blessed with visits from the local birdlife as I sit at my desk in the mornings waiting to recover from my December hip replacement surgery. I can walk around now, although my hip and lower back get very sore by early afternoon. I have not ventured outdoors to do any Bird or Nature photography as I don’t want to carry any weight as yet and to be honest, I’m still in a lot of pain from other chronic health issues which the recent surgery ignited.
Sometimes I wonder what I’d do without the birds that greet my day and bless me with their chirping and cheeping. There are 2 regular Spotted Turtle-doves which coo loudly as though to announce their arrival morning and afternoon. They’ve kept me sane in the last couple of years being mostly housebound, in Melbourne’s long months of lockdown and now, in ‘recovery’ mode.
When I eventually get outdoors and we get a cooler summer day for walking, I hope to have some new images to share.
In the meantime, I started this new blog and deleted my old nature blog and am choosing some of my favourite quotes to pair with archival images. Today, I’m bringing you some bird photos I shot with a long lens from my desk chair over the last week or so.