Remembering the yorlins, felties and doos

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Meet the familiar, ever hovering kestrel, or to give the bird any one of it's old Scots names, Keelie Hawk, Stanchel, Stenchil or even Willie Whip the Wind! writes George Hogg (Hogg Estate Services).

Many birds have local names as well as old Scots names.

When I was a wee boy following my Grandad on long country walks, I thought I was learning all the names of all the birds.

Only much later did I discover that yorlins, linties and laverocks were, in fact, yellow hammers, linnets and sky larks!

Similarly owl were hoolits, curlews were whaups and crows were corbies.

Even now most folk I have known since those days still call sparrows and starlings, spuggies and stuckies.

It would be a great shame if we were to lose these wonderful old names for our familiar birds.

Some are simply terms of endearment, for instance I will always greeet a robin as Rab and a jackdaw as Jaikie.

Who has not heard of Jenny Wren which features in the popular nursery rhyme ‘Sing a song of sixpence’?

Another one still in common use is Mavis for thrush.

Even now most countrymen still call woodpigeons “cushies” and feral and domestic pigeons “doos”.

Then there is the habit of ending everything in “ie” as in blackie, bullie, greenie, goldie and chaffie for blackbird, bullfinch, greenfinch, goldfinch and chaffinch.

Similarly, paitricks are partridges, swallies are swallows and willie wagtails are pied wagtails.

Of course, I mustn't forget peezers, felties, gowks or gleds (lapwings, fieldfares, cuckoos and buzzards/kites).

I have only mentioned names still in common use locally.

There are a great many more and I can heartily recommend a foray into old Scots names for birds, animals and familiar plants.