Sounds of winter: day 26 Heather Dale

Hunting the wren is sung by Heather Dale. Apparently this was a traditional ‘sport’ on the day after Christmas in parts of northern England, Wales and Ireland. Nowadays the ‘hunters’ are more akin to carol singers, going from house to house collecting money (for charity?) and perhaps mince pies or drinks. I believe they attach a bunch of feathers or something similar to a pole which they carry. I assume the custom is based on the old tradition of hunting actual birds. St Stephen’s Day or Boxing Day as the English call it is often marked by hunts of various kinds and nowadays drag hunting should be the norm in UK. The wren was regarded as ‘off limits’ the rest of the year.

The photograph is another from Windsor Great Park in winter.

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