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13 June 2020

Posted by Lucy Pearce

Birds with Jack Thacker

11 - 14 Age Group, 14 Attending, 15 - 18 Age Group, 7 Attending 

This week, the Young Writers had something a little different and very exciting! We were lucky to have the Lighthouse Writer In Residence Jack Thacker leading the workshops, with a theme of birds - or more specifically, the collective nouns of birds! 

To kick off the session, Jack talked us through all the different types of birds that can be found living in Poole Harbour (there are a lot!). These vary from the more common Seagull to the rarer Heron and Osprey. After going through these, it was then quiz time. From a multiple-choice, the Young Writers were asked to select which collective noun they believed related to each bird. 

We discovered the below collective nouns: 

Bird         -         Collective Noun

Seagulls - Screech 

Kingfisher - Crown 

Crows - Murder 

Geese - Wedge 

Herons - Siege 

Starlings - Murmuration 

Sparrows - Quarrel 

Ravens - Unkindness 

Cormorants - Gulp 

Osprey - Duet 

Tern - Committee 

After this, the 11-14 age group read and lightly analyzed Hymn To The Birds, which incorporated collective nouns within it, while the 15-18 age group read Collective by Matthew Francis and Collective Nouns for Humans In The Wild by Kathy Fish. Both of these poems demonstrated how collective nouns can slot into poetry and be used as a tool.  

The Young Writers were then asked to take three birds that weren't included in the session and create collective nouns for these. I created: 

Wrens - An ovation 

Swans - A braid 

Parrot - A Clowning 

Then, the Young Writers were asked to create collective nouns for actors, musicians, theatre-goers, and writers. 

And finally, the 11-14 age group were given time to write a poem that included at least 3 of their own collective nouns, while the older group were asked to write a poem which included collective nouns used for humans. 

Rosie wrote: 

A Slurp of Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers 

As footsteps shower 

The gravelled ground, 

A quarrel of sparrows 

Look around. 

A slurp, in my 

Saddened fear, 

Of yellow-bellied 

Sapsuckers appear. 

They cock their heads 

At my errands, 

While my gaze skirts past 

A siege of herons – 

They call their 

Scratchy mews, 

A discord of 

Sung blues. 

Who stand stock still, 

Looking down, 

Battling for fish 

With a nearby crown 

A well of eyes, 

Of tears a pail, 

A pocket of memories, 

Of whispers a wail. 

Of kingfishers. 

A birdwatcher learns 

The silhouette of 

A committee of terns. 

A flight of evenings, 

A calming of lakes, 

A lentic of sobs, 

Ripples in their wakes. 

I have not yet learnt. 

A gulp in my throat, 

A gulp of cormorants 

On an upturned boat 

A distraught of worlds 

And lives rocked. 

Emptiness where once 

His birds flocked. 

The opposite shore, 

Some distance away. 

A slurp of yellow-bellied sapsuckers 

Go flying away.

Thank you to Jack for a fantastic session that was both informative and fun! We hope to have you back one day! 


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