Viola Stirling’s Nature Diary: November 13th 1919

In this short diary entry, Viola describes seeing a large flock of pigeons “800 or 900 birds”.

These are most likely to be Wood Pigeons, commonly found in Scotland.

But as the feral Rock Dove or Rock Pigeon is so common everywhere in Britain, this bird is also a candidate. These are the pigeons that are frequently seen in towns and cities nesting all over the buildings and bridges.

The end of 1919 was evidently unseasonably cold. The temperatures that she quotes in her diary are given as ‘degrees of frost’, an unusual measurement that is no longer used. Her ’19 degrees of frost’ translates to -10.6 degrees Celcius and 30 degrees of frost is -16.7 degrees Celcius. Certainly very cold for November.  Viola had evidently been paying attention to her Geography lessons at school as she refers to the possibility of  “a second ice-age by Christmas”.

Nov 13. 1.50 p.m. Saw a flock of pigeons 800 or 900 birds

They had probably come in from the north of

Europe. Driven in by the cold I suppose. They

won’t enjoy it here though we’ve had 19° of

frost already. In fact one night we had 30°. If it’s

like this now there will be a second ice age by Xmas.