Esther Woolfson is, in the nicest possible way, potty about birds. And she is interested in their existence not as you or I might be, merely in the ornithological sense, but in birds as sharers of human living space.
As one brought up on a rural smallholding to which the local people brought for harbourage a stream of stricken avians – the concussed gull, the unfledged house sparrow and the, alas, irreparably broken-winged peewit – I am familiar with the mental condition that simply cannot say ‘no’ to any bird that is proffered.
In such circumstances one acquires a quite unmerited reputation for almost magical powers of healing. Not all the above mentioned survived to rejoin their peers in the wild. The lapwing which we used to take on daily walks across the winter ploughlands took fright during a thunderstorm one night and