TheTwelve ‘Wild’ Days of Christmas

The twelve days of Christmas include Christmas Day 25th December until the twelfth night on the 5th January.

The Wildlife Trusts #12DaysWild

The #12DaysWild challenge organised by The Wildlife Trusts is a proactive project to encourage us to get out and do one wild thing a day.
Over the 12 Days of Christmas I have been participating in their midwinter 12 days of Christmas nature initiative and trying to go a bit wild!

Wild in the City

We live in the City of London and right now there is not a lot of ‘wild’ about the City. It is very silent. Hushed by the pandemic. How wild can you be when we are all in the midst of Tier 4 restrictions due to Covid-19? (*News update: we are now under full lockdown in Tier 5)

Carrying on regardless despite the challenges of what we are all going through I have tried to do a wild thing each day. Even though I live in the centre of the City I am fortunate to reside close by to a tiny wildlife garden.

Squirrel in the wildlife garden | Photo: Lesley Scoble

The garden proves how wildlife can flourish if encouraged to do so, even in a very small patch, just by planting a few shrubs, retaining and nurturing vital trees, sowing wildflower seeds and creating a couple of ponds. The garden has been a vital haven all through lockdown.
I wonder if The Wildlife Trusts might consider setting up a programme to create more wildlife gardens within urban environments?

Get Outdoors

Motivated by the Wildlife Trusts urging to get outdoors and connect with the wild I close the lid on the tin of mince pies, prise myself off the sofa and trek out into the grey cold to connect with nature. My first shot is of a robin which I think is rather appropriate for the Christmastide season.

A Robin | Photo: Lesley Scoble

This shot was taken a couple of days before the first day of Christmas (On Christmas Day I was too busy opening presents, cooking, eating and drinking champagne to go outside into the wild).
Faced by problems of the ‘Stay at Home’ strictures of Tier 4 thereby limiting venturing out into the great outdoors, I came up with an idea to illustrate my own interpretation of the traditional carol The Twelve Days of Christmas.

Traditional Christmas Song

The traditional carol Twelve Days of Christmas is what is called a cumulative song, meaning it gains lines to repeat as it goes along counting the increasing gifts proffered by a true love.
I sort of thought that taking wildlife shots to illustrate the traditional song might be a good idea!

So, here is my own adaptation of the famous favourite Christmas carol The Twelve Days of Christmas!

On the first day of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me
A pigeon in a bare tree

Pigeon in a bare tree | Photo: Lesley Scoble

On the second day of Christmas

On the second day of Christmas my true love sent to me
Two soggy doves,
And a pigeon in a bare tree

Two soggy doves in the street | Photo: Lesley Scoble

A couple of bedraggled feral pigeons (to me they are still rock doves) are my subjects for day two.

On the third day of Christmas

On the third day of Christmas my true love sent to me
Three English hens (and a cat),
Two soggy doves,
And a pigeon in a bare tree

Three English Hens (and a cat) | Photo: Lesley Scoble

Here I have used a photograph of hens taken on a trip last year in Norfolk. I was struck by the closeness of a cat to these domestic fowl! But is that wild enough for the Wildlife Trust’s challenge?

On the fourth day of Christmas

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love sent to me
Four cawing colly birds,
Three English hens,
Two soggy doves,
And a pigeon in a bare tree.

Four cawing colly birds | Photo: Lesley Scoble

I photographed these four starlings near St Paul’s Cathedral, London . They are my choice to illustrate four cawing colly birds. Colly, colley or collie is of popular usage in this song for the fourth day of Christmas and most probably means black. Most Corvidae passerines enjoy a good caw. Therefore my interpretation for the gift of four cawing colly/black birds in this case, is the Starling.

On the fifth day of Christmas

Five goldfinches | Photo: Lesley Scoble

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love sent to me
Five goldfinches,
Four cawing colly birds,
Three English hens,
Two soggy doves,
And a pigeon in a bare tree.

These five goldfinches were part of a bigger flock coming in to roost in a shrub and small tree on the Barbican Estate, London.

On the sixth day of Christmas

Six geese a-walking | Photo: Lesley Scoble

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love sent to me
Six geese a-walking,
Five goldfinches,
Four cawing colly birds,
Three English hens,
Two soggy doves,
And a pigeon in a bare tree.

These Greylag geese were a-walking in Hyde Park, London

On the seventh day of Christmas

Seven swans a-swimming | Photo: Lesley Scoble

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love sent to me
Seven swans a-swimming (original words—I didn’t change this!)
Six geese a-walking,
Five goldfinches,
Four cawing colly birds,
Three English hens,
Two soggy doves,
And a pigeon in a bare tree.

I photographed these beautiful swans last year swimming on a lake in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire.

On the eighth day of Christmas

I couldn’t find anything in the wild that I could interpret for ‘Eight maids a-milking’ so I sketched this cartoon.

Eight maids a-milking | Photo: Lesley Scoble

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love sent to me
Eight maids a-milking (didn’t change these original words either!)
Seven swans a-swimming (original words)
Six geese a-walking,
Five goldfinches,
Four cawing colly birds,
Three English hens,
Two soggy doves,
And a pigeon in a bare tree.

I have run out of time to illustrate and complete the 12 days as I should wish – and the following lines in the song don’t really lend themselves to wildlife illustration. So, I shall just finish off with the rest of the song as was writ.

The rest of the song

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love sent to me
Twelve drummers drumming,
Eleven pipers piping
Ten lords a-leaping
Nine ladies dancing

Eight maids a-milking (didn’t change these original words either!)
Seven swans a-swimming (original words)
Six geese a-walking,
Five goldfinches,
Four cawing colly birds,
Three English hens,
Two soggy doves,
And a pigeon in a bare tree.

Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night is not only a play written by William Shakespeare (interesting to note that the play has nothing really to do with twelfth night other than that was the night it was originally performed) it is also the night that your Christmas decorations should come down!

My stars shine darkly over me

Twelfth Night | William Shakespeare

It’s 3rd Lockdown on a cold grey January day and my birthday.

Self portrait | Cartoon: Lesley Scoble

This self-portrait cartoon drawing sort of expresses and depicts exactly how I presently feel about it all!

Happy New Year everyone! Take care and stay safe.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s