Dear Mr Key, writes Tzipi Blankette, I recently stumbled upon your Hooting Yard website and so enthralling did I find it that, using clever speed-reading techniques, I have read the entire contents, dating back to 2003, in a matter of hours. What has particularly impressed me is your tremendous erudition on the subject of birds. I have always been interested in ornithology, passionately so, but my knowledge of the subject is scant and flimsy. I can honestly say I have learned more through speed-reading your work than from any other birdy source at which I have supped, to put it poetically. Yes, Mr Key, I confess I am something of a poet. The reason I am being so bold as to write to you is that I am currently working on a sonnet sequence about little stints. I know almost nothing of the little stint, but I read carefully your postage yesterday, where you gave, in a footnote, an explanation of the term “unstinting”. I would be enormously grateful if you could expand upon this, and perhaps share with a poor Plathian versifier your boundless knowledge of this tiny wading bird. Yours sincerely, Tzipi Blankette.
I often receive letters from bird-ignorant readers in awe of my avian learning. Usually, I cast them straight into the pneumatic waste chute, because, quite frankly, if I replied to them all I would never get any other work done, and our feathered friends are just one teensy weensy fragment among my many and varied interests, which also include the Kennedy Assassination, the Hindenburg Disaster, eggs and bees, to name but four.
It so happened, however, that Ms Blankette’s letter plopped through the letterbox just as I was putting the finishing touches to my new book, Crush Your Business Rivals By Unleashing Your Inner Little Stint. This is the first in a series of management guides for top CEOs which I hope will be bestsellers in the burgeoning market for management guides for top CEOs. Unfortunately for Ms Blankette, however, I have already signed a contract with a global publishing concern specialising in management guides for top CEOs, under the terms of which I am unable to reproduce any of the text on this website. The book itself will contain ninety-nine percent of my knowledge of the little stint, so all I am able to do here to help out the fledgling poetess is to cobble together a few dribs and drabs that didn’t quite make it into my manuscript.
Under no circumstances must you confuse the little stint with Temminck’s stint. Try to remember the wise old rustic saying “When it comes to stints, there are two words / The little and Temminck are different birds”. Having said that, matters are confused further by the fact that not only are there two words for the two different stints, but there are dozens of other words for the little stint itself, depending on where you are in the world. For example, you will be making a basic error if, in some other, alien, distant land, out on a bird-spotting expedition with your pals Lars and Prudence, you point your finger and shout “Look, Lars and Prudence, a little stint!” What you ought to shout, assuming you know where you are, is “Look, Lars and Prudence, a – “ followed by one of the following terms: jespák malý, Zwergstrandläufer, Dværgryle, Correlimos Menudo, pikkusirri, Bécasseau minute, Veimiltíta, Gambecchio comune, nishitounen, Kleine Strandloper, Dvergsnipe, biegus malutki, Pilrito-pequeno, Combatente, pobrežník malý, Småsnäppa, Mazaricu Nanu, Sərçəvari qumluq cüllütü, Ar sourouc’han bihan, Corriol menut, Redonell, Territ menut, Pibydd bach, Pibydd lleiaf, Premavera, malgranda kalidro, Playerito menudo, Väikerisla, väikerüdi, Txirri txikia, Dvørggrælingur, Gobadáinín Beag, Looyran beg, Žalar ciganin, Apró partfutó, Chnchghuk Kttsar, Youroppa-tounen, Stynt munys, Calidris minuta, Ereunetes minutus, Erolia minuta, Mažasis bėgikas, Trulītis, Rivarel nanin, Kulik-vorobey, Uhcacovzoš, mali prodnik, Gjelaci i vogël, blataric patuljak, Tsititsiti-nyenyane, Chokowe Mdogo, Küçük kumkuşu, Dẽ nhỏ, or Rẽ nhỏ.
I would think that list provides Tzipi Blankette with plenty of words for her sonnet sequence, which I hope I get a chance to read before it is shoved away into a desk drawer and left to gather unto itself the dust of neglect.