Wednesday 8 February 2023

my shadow

As I'd grabbed the camera to get a photo of the blackcap in the hope of identifying it (for no other reason than to salve my curiosity) I took a photo of my shadow whist I was at it. She's growing into such a pretty thing.

feeding the birds

Noticed a new bird in my back garden yesterday. A slightly blurry photo followed by a search through Google identified it as a Blackcap. Which, I confess, until yesterday I had no idea were a thing.

Last year my wife asked, as usual, what I wanted for my birthday. It's always a particularly hard question. My interests generally orbit around boats and guitars, broadly speaking, and when something sparks my interest in either area, I generally work towards getting it for myself. 

So there's nothing I really want, at least not that anybody else can gift me, that I don't already have. I'm very aware of how lucky I am to be in this position.

So, thinking we're pretty unusual in that we have a back garden that's essentially absent the neighbourhood's many cats, in a moment of rare inspiration, I asked for a bird table. I think Nik was bemused, but in any case agreed that's what she'd get me.

I didn't get the bird table I expected. I'd imagined some quaint little open house on top of a pole, maybe with little wooden tiles on its little wooden roof, that would look cute stood on my back lawn (such as it is; we have three big dogs) perhaps set against the bamboo as a kind of backdrop, basically a platform I could put stale bread on for the birds to peck at.

What I got was this somewhat ugly, green, skeletal like metal tree for hanging bird feeders on.

Once I'd gotten over my initial "Oh. Okay" (hidden of course behind an enthusiastic "Thank-you! That's exactly what I wanted!") I realised that, in actual fact, it was far better. 

So across last year I fed the birds. Some regulars quickly established themselves. A veritable mob of sparrows took up residence, dozens of them, either perched high in the black bamboo at the back of the garden, or hiding in the gnarly old rosemary bush just behind where I placed the bird feeder "tree" in the end. I learned that it's really easy to tell the boy sparrows from the girls from their markings. Who knew?

A couple of starlings worked their way into the eaves above my youngest son's bedroom window overlooking the back garden, built themselves a nest, and raised a clutch of rambunctious youngsters which duly fledged and flew the nest, but never went far. The fledglings have overwintered with us and have been daily visitors to the garden over the cold months. I guess should've blocked up the hole in the eaves to prevent their parents from nesting there again this year. But I couldn't bring myself to.

Nikki's accused me of getting carried away in my enthusiasm, suggesting I overfeed them, and argues that we have the fattest wood pigeon in the county. I don't think she's really serious, and there's nothing wrong with a fat pigeon. 

Over winter we gained a couple of great tits, a blue tit and a robin as welcome regulars. And in recent weeks, we've had a couple of longtail tits join us. Again, I had no idea they were a thing and had to look them up on Google.

On balance, I reckon my "bird table" is one of the best birthday presents anybody's bought me for quite some time.