A Storytelling of Crows

Apparently the Sami people have one thousand words to describe reindeer, a bit like the Irish have for rain which means we have a lot of it. And we have had ample opportunity lately to recognise the differences between, say, downpour, drizzle, mizzle, stair-rods and cats and dogs. So, when I saw this gathering of mallards at the lake yesterday I wondered what a whole lot of ducks might be called.

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It turns out that the name depends on where the ducks are at the time. On land, as these are, I might have referred to them as a safe, sord, sore, waddling, badling, or twack. Two would be a brace, and any number of ducklings a brood. On water they would be a bunch, if idle – a raft, if diving – a dopping and if swimming –  a paddling. In flight – flock, skein, string, team, plump, or pump would do. The definitive term for our mallards, because it also depends on species, is sord, or suit.

Ever curious, I went on to look for other interesting names that may be applicable to things in our gardens. Couldn’t find anything for gardeners, perhaps a germination? Guides can be tour coordinators, escorts, visitor experience assistants, or docents, while visitors remain as groups as long as they stay together and don’t wander off. Pheasants can be a head or a nye, or when flushed, a bouquet. Fellow quizzers, (a team) will be familiar with a chattering or murmuration of starlings while our house martins are styled as a flight. A coalition of cheetahs may be mentioned during a tour of the Italian Garden, or a troop, barrel, cartload, or tribe of monkeys.

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A congregation of alligators sounds like way too many. Dodos are safer, mainly because they are extinct, and being flightless, fall into the raft category.

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Anne Shirley of Green Gables talked about straying into a dance of mermaids.

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An excuse to feature the 2016 brood, swans are a whiteness or a game, or if flying, a wedge.

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Robins rarely flock together and have only recently been voted a group name: a round was the most popular, with breast coming a close second.

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Picnicking bears, of which there were quite a few this week, can be called a sleuth, or sloth, perhaps not particularly endearing terms. I checked again and, wait for it, a group of teddies is – a hug!

Aaawwww – off to give mine, Barney, a big hug now.

Ellen

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