Pity there wasn’t a white headed eagle

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, serving up only the worst of puns and observations since 2008.

Malva time! It appears Dipper has exhausted the world of gardening and is now on an avian kick.  After Malva’s last listener I wrote that maybe Dipper would be the pseudonym for horticulture and Malva would be the one for birds, so I was primed for the theme that had not yet appeared.  What have we – extra letters in wordplay (there’s a lot of that going around), and different entries of thematic answers.  Extra words, first letters, something else.  OK

There is a 1 across, and it is a term I am extremely familiar with – MAS,HUPS so we have an extra word in the first clue for Propaganda.  Woohoo!

With both Dipper and Malva the problem has not been in solving the clues, it has been with whatever comes next in the grid, as plants and birds are not my strong suit.  I kept waiting for a word that didn’t fit into the grid that needed to be modified, but nothing appeared, and I was getting close to a full grid.  Hmmmm.

It was pretty clear the first set of extra letters were going to be an anagram of YELLOW, and with TAN and SAND coming later on it seems like colours.  It was a mistake that led me to the theme – I had 25 across as ROWS from SWORD and so had an extra D in there, solving ALCHERA meant it wasn’t ROWS, and that made sense.  Probably had to be an extra E so that BLUE could be spelled from the extra letters.  It’s SPEAR leading to RAPS and hiding right underneath in the grid it TIT. BLUE TIT!  It’s like that puzzle where every letter had to be entered in a colour, we’re going to enter some birds in colours.

So with Chambers there the rest was fairly easy – look up the colours as a headword and find a bird that fit. Of course that didn’t stop me from getting excited about GREENEYE, which is a fish.  If Malva had put JACKET in there somewhere I would have totally associated it with YELLOW.

I don’t know what I would have done if I was planning on submitting this puzzle, since I don’t think I have all of the colours handy. If I was more conscientious I would have made a new grid in Crossword Compiler and entered the words in the appropriate colours, I’m sure there’s another blog where you can see at least one of those.

The final part took me almost as long as the rest of the puzzle – I had two dilemmas – first was that I wasn’t 100% on whether the extra word in 29 down was RENAISSANCE or BEING.  RENAISSANCE seemed like the best bet.

There’s 18 letters and we are told it is a 15 letter extra item… so probably RED something… I scoured the RED section in Chambers and there was nothing.  Maybe RED somethingED birdtype?  If the extra word was BEING then it could be a red beaked something… we have exhausted Chambers so I turned to onelook for suggestions (not having a copy of “Olson’s Book of Standard British Birds (minus the gannet)”. RED BEAKED something was not working.

It was a search for RED ????ED ????????? that finally turned up RED NECKED PHALAROPE!  Two checks through to make sure all the letters worked and we are done!

I’ve just written the colours, I haven’t coloured the entries.

My working grid for Listener 4456, Shady Characters by Malva

Woohoo!  Victory to George but that last part – was it really necessary?  And was that bird more obscure than Jude the Obscure’s collection of obscure objects?

Game over – 99% victory (still not sure why RENAISSANCE is the extra word in 29 down).

Feel free to tell me that someone with the brain of one should know birds extremely well, and see you next week when Apt gives us a puzzle featuring one of the more popular shirt styles.


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