Illustration: Michael Viney

‘Into the world of the robin,” wrote David Lack, “we cannot penetrate” – this in his book The Life of the Robin (1965), which was anyone’s best shot a(...)

Higher and spire: David Lack studied swifts in Oxford. Illustration: Michael Viney

I miss the coming of city swifts – the change in the sky from one day to the next. In my rooftop bachelor pad in Ballsbridge, circa 1965, I enjoyed th(...)

Hoverflies: they come with the gift of bilocation. Illustration: Michael Viney

One of the good days brought a swallow and a hoverfly into the same frame of my delight, the first zooming past the gable just to let me know t(...)