Much Mimicking
In The Marsh

“REED-WARBLER . . . beware possibility of mimicry of
 reed-warbler by marsh- or sedge-warblers.”

“SEDGE-WARBLER . . . beware possibility of reed and
 marsh mimicking sedge.”
                                              - R. S. R. Fitter, The Pocket
                                             Guide To British Birds,1952.

Excuse a style so casual as to be positively daring
But I am recalling an encounter with a small
     indistinct brown bird in terrain tangled,
     watery and wearing,
And despite my ornithological erudition –
I know what possesses 'ear-like tufts and
     rufous tippets',
I know my redstart from my redpoll and am
     persevering with pipits –
I should welcome the loan of an oath.
Because what I still do not know is whether that
     small indistinct brown bird was a reed-warbler
     mimicking a sedge-warbler, a sedge-warbler
     mimicking a reed-warbler, or a marsh-warbler
     mimicking both.

Jerome Betts  

If you have any comments on this poem,
Jerome Betts  would be pleased to hear from you.