Fine Feathers


Spring is such an exhausting time. There is all that angst over selecting a mate – or being selected for a mate. All that sitting at home pretending you don’t care, coiled up like an over-wound spring waiting for a call or an SMS or at the very least a message on one of the ‘social’ sites. Poised to strike, to clutch at the least straw, to be thankful for any port in the storm of our anxiety, ready to feign nonchalance and cool indifference – as soon as we are given the chance.

Then there is all that nest building, exciting in its own way, but merely a precursor to eggs and hatchlings and  the constant demand for food, food, food. There is no time to to do anything that isn’t directly related to the brood. Certainly no time for yourself, you would feel too guilty taking time out to do your own thing. Sometimes it seems as if it will never end and many times you find yourself wondering why you though that it would all be worth it.

It’s no wonder, that by the time summer comes and the kids are finally off your hands that you feel a little frazzled, is it? And just look at you. You certainly look as though you’ve been pulled through a good few hedges backwards.

No wonder we haven’t seen that many birds at the bird feeder recently. Some of them, however, have managed to find a dress that still fits, left over from the glory days of their youth and pop and have their hair done, nothing fancy, just so they look respectable.

We were pleased to see the Nuthatch again, the summer moult is over now, and he no longer feels too embarrassed to come to the bird table.

Yellow Fidget

Yellow Hammer
Yellow Hammer

It was pouring with rain this morning and it was close to coffee time too, so The Dog and I agreed on just a potter up the road to the village green and back. A good part of the way is under the shelter of the trees that make up the other side of our wood, so we could avoid getting absolutely soaked. Just as we reached the end of the drive, the squirrel, who was also just popping home for coffee, appeared in the road. The Dog was busy checking ‘The Place’ by the gatepost, where every passing canine leaves their calling card, so she didn’t notice the squirrel about six feet away. I stopped, tightened my grip on the lead and looked at the squirrel. The squirrel stopped, looked at The Dog going about her own affairs, and looked at me. He raised one eyebrow, shrugged, then disappeared into the hedge. I released the tension on the lead and we wandered off into the rain.

For these last few days we’ve had the excitement of a Yellow Hammer and two chicks trotting around at the foot of the bird table. The chicks look just like sparrows and it’s only that they constantly harass their parent that gives them away. We must have taken a thousand pictures of the little family group or the brightly coloured parent but in not one of them have the birds been in focus. In frustration, here is one of the least blurred.

Really, they are such fidgets.

Jay Walking

Jay in the garden
Jay in the garden

This is actually, one of Jackie’s pictures. The bird table is in the back garden and the kitchen window looks out in that direction. One of Jackie’s self imposed tasks is to keep the bird feeders topped up. Our birds are very fond of Jackie and wouldn’t like her to feel unappreciated so they work hard at emptying the various feeders, to make sure that she always has at least one to refill. The bird who shows the most concern for Jackie’s emotional needs is the Great Tit. The minute she hangs a filled seed feeder on the hook on the bird table, two or three of them will appear and start to empty it, throwing seed right, left and centre to get the job done.

As soon as they have a reasonable amount of the seed spread over the ground at the base of the bird table, the Lower Story Clean-up Squad will put in an appearance. Members include the Stock Dove family, an occasional Wood Pigeon, the Back Garden Blackbird and, when the Blackbird isn’t looking, a Robin or two – and of course, we must also mention an assortment of Chaffinches and Sparrows. These last few days they have been joined by the Jay. We have seen him around before, but he is usually too shy to stop and chat. In the Autumn he gathers acorns, his favourite food, and hides them. He’s not above stealing a squirrel’s hoard, if he spots him in the process of hiding some.

I guess that by now, the cupboard is bare.