NTSPP – 278 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 278

NTSPP – 278

Birds of a Feather by Vigo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A review of this puzzle by Prolixic follows.

Vigo does not appear as often as she ought to in the NTSPP.  This was a super crossword, a pangram, with a cleverly introduced theme where a number of answers (I counted 12, indicated by a ** by the clue number) were collective nouns for groups of birds.


6 Trust worker to conceal vile cavorting (7)
BELIEVE – One of the insect workers goes around (to conceal) an anagram (cavorting) of VILE.

**7 Delight in daily mass (5)
CHARM – Another word for a daily or cleaner followed by the abbreviation for mass.  A charm of finches.

**9 Boat‘s a good way back at rear of fleet (4)
RAFT – Reverse (back) a word meaning a good way (or long distance) and follow this by the last letter (rear of) fleet.  A raft of ducks.

**10 Elevation of English taxation corrupted grasping left (10)
EXALTATION – An anagram of E (English) TAXATION includes (grasping) the abbreviation for left.  An exaltation of larks.

11 Reminders hospital department concealed in notes (8)
MEMENTOS – The abbreviation for a hospital department goes inside (concealed in) another word for written notes.

13 A northerly wind delivers foreign aid (2,4)
AU PAIR – The A from the clue followed by the direction on a map indicated by northerly and another word for wind.

15 Weary Ninja, defeated in part (4)
JADE – The answer is hidden (in part) in NINJA DEFEATED.

**17 Swap ram’s head for lamb’s in gore stew (5)
BROOD – Another word for gore has the L (lamb’s head) replaced by R (Ram’s head).  A brood of chickens.

18 Fume old cloth with last of cyanide (4)
RAGE – Another word for an old or scrappy cloth followed by the final letter (last of) cyanide.

19 Social climber returning to first class Japanese art form (6)
BONSAI – Reverse (returning) a word for a social climber or stuck up person and follow this with the abbreviation for first class.

20 Sit tired, dishevelled and most grimy (8)
DIRTIEST – An anagram (dishevelled) of SIT TIRED.

**23 Peacekeeper roughly skinned serpent’s head, showing lack of compassion (10)
UNKINDNESS – The abbreviation for United Nations (peacekeepers) followed by an anagram (roughly) of SKINNED followed by the first letter (head) of serpent.  An unkindness of ravens.

26 Short time at castle boundary (4)
MOAT – A two letter word for a short period of time followed by the at from the clue.

**27 Gutless knave featuring in evil yarn (5)
SKEIN – The outer letters (gutless) of knave go inside (featuring in) another word for evil.  A skein of geese.

28 Soldier bound by endless responsibility goes AWOL (7)
TRUANTS – The other worker insect goes inside (bound by) a word meaning responsibility with the final letter removed (endless).


1 Happiness surrounds the North East in show of endless cheer (10)
BLITHENESS – A word meaning happiness or ecstasy goes around (surrounds) the THE from the clue and the abbreviation for North East.

**2 Lie in empty crate, bound up outside (6)
DECEIT – Reverse (up) a word meaning bound or fasten and put this around (outside) the outer letters (empty) of crate.  A deceit of lapwings.

3 Greek zulu? (4)
ZETA – The equivalent Greek letter that is represented by Zulu in the NATO phonetic alphabet.

4 Good man assuming care of league and country (8)
SCOTLAND – The abbreviation for saint (good man) includes (assuming) the abbreviation for care of and this is followed by the abbreviation for league and the AND from the clue.

**5 Pet keeping son company (4)
CAST – A feline pet includes (keeping) the abbreviation for son.  A cast of falcons or hawks.

**6 Reinforce undergarment with concrete edging (5)
BRACE – A female undergarment followed by the outer letters (edging) of concrete.  A brace of ducks.

8 Mounted horseman clasps popular source of stability (7)
MOORING – Reverse (mounted) another word for a horseman includes (clasps) a word meaning popular.

**12 Small, heartless vixen (5)
SCOLD – The abbreviation for small followed by a word meaning heartless or unemotional.  A scold of jays.

**14 Corrupt liar replacing last of money in reward for congress (10)
PARLIAMENT – An anagram (corrupt) of LIAR replaces the Y (last of money) in another word for a reward or cash sum paid.  A parliament of owls.

16 Marks new leader of unruly nations (7)
ANOINTS – An anagram (unruly) of NATIONS.

**17 Essentially conflicted over diamonds one gets in bribe for construction (8)
BUILDING – The central letters (essentially) of conflicted and the abbreviation for diamonds and the letter representing one all go inside another word for a bribe.  A building of rooks.

21 Blue Iris queen holds (6)
RISQUE – The answer is hidden in (holds) IRIS QUEEN.

22 Diverts road in sections (5)
SWAYS – Another word for a road goes inside the repeated (as the word is in the plural) abbreviation for section.

24 Object one encountered coming up (4)
ITEM – The letter representing one followed by a reversal (coming up) of a word meaning encountered.

25 Pigs regularly seen in regattas (4)
EATS – The even letters (regularly) of REGATTAS.

25 comments on “NTSPP – 278

  1. We are being spolit today – firstly an excellent and very clever Prize Puzzle by Hieroglyph and now this very enjoyable themed puzzle. My favourite clue is 13a – many thanks to Vigo.

  2. What Gazza said – but he didn’t mention the pangram and that my ‘favourite’ of the subject matter, the one relating to owls, is missing.

    1. … He didn’t mention it because he hadn’t noticed it! I’ve now had a good long look at the grid and you’re right about the owls (my favourite, that of crows, is also missing).

  3. I thought 14d was owls? I had hoped to crowbar my favourite in too (which I assume is the same as gazza’s but with all the owl confusion I can’t be sure) but it proved to be a surprisingly difficult one to accommodate – maybe I should have tried to slot it in as an anagram indicator somewhere.

    Thanks to Big Dave for using this puzzle – I had totally forgotten it but am pleased to say I only had to use reveal letter once when solving!

    1. Lovely puzzle, Vigo. I suspect that the word for owls which is crypticsue’s favourite is a ‘stare’ but I could be wrong. 14d I associate with rooks but I now see that it can also apply to owls and other birds.

    2. I think I’ll change my “shame there wasn’t’ room for” and go for a flamboyance of flamingos.

  4. I thought 14D was owls, too. I confess that I had not picked up on the theme until I came to the blog. I went back and took another look. I knew some, but did get some online help for others. Lovely puzzle, Vigo. Many thanks.

  5. Chaucer wrote 14d as being “of Fowles”, which I presume to have been the original version. My suspicion is that it became particularly associated with owls because someone misheard.

  6. Thanks Vigo, impressive setting to make a pangram as well as getting the theme words in.

    My favourites were 13 & 8.

  7. Lovely puzzle many thanks Vigo – what fun. Congratulations on the pangram. I love themed puzzles where the clues indicate an alternative meaning, very subtle and clever. Lots of nice clues, favourites are 14d (corrupt liar..) and 21d (blue iris…!). 25d (pigs) is cute as well.
    Thanks for the entertainment

  8. I’m just a simple soul – far too simple for this game! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif
    To begin with I thought I was just looking for birds – when there weren’t any I thought again and found ‘skein’ which started me off.
    So far I’ve got six which, compared to the ‘score’ of others, is pretty pathetic.
    Need to stop now or I’ll still be in scruffy jeans when friends come for supper. Oh dear!
    Thanks for a great crossword, Vigo.

    1. Does a word in one of the clues count? If it does in 14d there’s the word ‘congress’ – a congress of eagles!
      Really must go now . . .

  9. That was a lot of fun. We used a Google list to search out some of the more obscure ones and agree with Expat Chris that 1d certainly deserves to be on the list. Our last two in were 8d and 13a and we will go with 13a as favourite. On our Sunday morning walk, that we will be doing very soon, we will be watching for how many of these terms we can put into use around the estuary.
    Thanks Vigo.

    1. Back from our walk now. We had a pleasant surprise in that we encountered some White Herons or Kotuku. We occasionally have a single bird as a visitor to the estuary but cannot recall ever having seen more than one before. And we now know to call them a Siege of Herons. They are rather grand elegant birds so we will save a photo opportunity for Wednesday’s blog. Cheers.

  10. Not as easy as I thought it might be! Hard to believe that 1d doesn’t seem to appear on any list that I could find – I also looked long and hard for 18a, but it apparently applies to ‘maidens’!!!
    I’ll go with the majority on 12 – did come up with a couple of others but they’re in the clues, not the grid, so I guess they don’t count.

    Thank you, Vigo, most enjoyable. It will be interesting to discover whether you think we’ve missed any.

    ps. Did you have ‘stare’ in mind, CS? I rather like ‘wisdom’.

    1. Yes, I also had my hopes up for 18a – as well as 15a, 26a, and 8d! but no such luck..

  11. Thanks Vigo, that was a real pleasure and a little lesson on the many words to qualify the different groups of birds.
    When I got to 27a, I thought to myself: That’s a strange word coming out from my parsing but eh bingo, it exists.
    According to my dictionary, it’s a flock of geese or ducks flying in a V formation. I couldn’t believe you had a word for that. What about when they all take off together? Is there a word for that too? I know, let’s call it a flockoff.
    I really had fun.
    Thanks again.
    Ps: would the greek zulu be more an omega?

  12. A super puzzle, as you said, Prolixic – and you rewarded it with a truly excellent review.
    Thank you for a lovely start to the day.
    I’m sure that Vigo will be equally delighted.

  13. Thanks Prolixic for the fabulous review with all the lovely illustrations. I’m pleased it has been enjoyed – I do love a good collective noun. I started off with the intention of fitting murder and murmuration in there but it proved tricky…

    Thanks to everyone who took the time to comment.


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