If you have visited Fretmarks recently, you will have enjoyed the splendid photograph of a cluster of long-tailed tits being held by a ringer. It prompted me to think about collective nouns (also known as nouns of assembly) on the lines of a charm of goldfinches, an exultation of larks, a murder of crows and other Victorian coinages. During my CHOG days, we would huddle in the Ringing Hut during bad weather and pass the time inventing collective nouns. Here are a few of them, each pun worse than the one before. And, while you are about it, can you think up a suitable collective noun for long-tailed tits?
a gulp of swallows, an estate of house martins, a splinter of woodcock, a satire of swifts, a round of robins, a pastime of hobbies, a calvity of coot, a madness of ravens, a rage of crossbills, a minstrelsy of black terns, a lunch of sandwich terns, a kebab of skuas, a plunge of divers, a jib of cranes, a babble of chats, a grumble of grouse, a gluttony of gannets, a butchery of shrikes, a handful of tits.
Oh dear, aren't they dreadful?! That's what happens to ringers when they can't get their equipment erected. If you want to see proper collective nouns, please click here.