Thursday, 9 February 2012

What's in a Name?

On my way to work yesterday I noticed far more birds than usual. There were quite common ones such as Goldfinch, Plover, Linnet and Rook. There were also some more unusual ones; Kingfisher, Falcon, Albatross and Penguin. A quick look online later showed if I'd wandered a little off my route I would have seen Wren, Dove and Bullfinch too.

As you have probably guessed, I'm not talking about real birds. These are all street names in an area of Preston where the planners clearly wanted to add a bit of a natural feel. Below is a map of the area with the ornithologically named streets highlighted in yellow.

I don't know why bird names were decided upon but it is nice to discover a little bit of wildlife thinking in a fairly urban area. I wonder how they picked the names. It can't be common UK birds, unless the albatross and penguin have a very secret history I'm unaware of! Maybe there was a competition to choose favourite bird names, and so several common birds got in with a few unusual favourites too. I'm not sure when the streets were built or named, the houses look quite old but it's hard to tell. It would be interesting to find out and look up the most common birds of the time to see if they matched the names. I doubt Bullfinch or Plover would be high on a list today but penguin might well be. 

Of the UK birds in my street list I'm pleased to discover many have Green List status. A few, such as the Bullfinch and Kingfisher are Amber and a couple such as the Linnet are on the Red List meaning their UK numbers and breeding rates are in serious decline in the past 25 years. 

It's sad to think that at some point someone might have named Linnet Street because it was a common, popular bird and now it's in real danger of disappearing from our lives.On the other hand maybe they called it that to raise awareness of the plight of the Linnet, who knows. These historical signposts point to a time when we were much more connected with our environment and I'd love to see more streets and places named after wildlife. Why not Oak Avenue, Hedgehog Close or Stickleback Way? It would make journeys much more exciting, my bird name streets certainly brighten my day.  

1 comment:

  1. My late wife used to live in that area when she was a little girl. they called that neighbourhood " The Canary Isles "