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Just hanging out

Juvenile Blue Tit

Juvenile Blue Tit

Another week of a little bit of everything, weather-wise. Still, I have worn my all-weather coat all through the summer and now things are cooling off a bit it is really coming into its own. He has to get wrapped up like a mummy before we venture beyond the garden gate – you should just see the performance – it’s just a good thing I’m naturally so patient. As you can see the main difference between summer and winter for us dogs is that in summer we just walk straight out of the door when we go for a walk, whereas in winter we sit and wait. And sit and wait, and wait, while our walking comrades envelop themselves in layer after layer of clothing.

You can see from the picture that the skies were that sort of no-colour grey. He says looking at the sky is like trying to fill in a newspaper crossword with a 2H pencil. Newspapers aren’t bad for tearing up but they do tend to stick to the roof of your mouth. I can’t comment on 2H pencils.

The picture is of a bird. How enthralling is that? I don’t have much time for birds. There are so many places on our route with really interesting scents and he want to show you a picture of a bird? What can I say? It takes all sorts, I suppose. He says to tell you that this is a blue tit. It is still young and won’t have its full uniform of yellow chest and blue cap until it grows up in spring.

That’s probably why it’s content to sit in the hedge amongst the sparrows for now.

Birds of a Feather

Robin

Robin

Houston, we have a problem. You see, these last few days we quite definitely have autumn in the air. Spring is full of suppressed emotion as everything is busy getting dressed up for their first grown-up dance. The air is heavy with anticipation. Will the object of our fixation be in attendance? Will we be able, at the critical instant, to pluck up the courage to speak? Will they have the courage to answer? It is all so full of promise, so full of angst.

Autumn on the other hand, brings with it a different kind of excitement. Big changes are coming and everyone is old enough to appreciate them this time. Summer, so full of the stresses and pressures of modern life, the constant need to be somewhere, do something – or to be back home in time for whatever is next on the agenda is, thankfully, over. The children have either flown from the nest, the seed-head or they are just about ready to drop off the twig. It is a time of plenty, a time to refill the store cupboard. A time for some ‘me’ time.

Which brings me to the Robin, who defends our garden from his station in the Silver Birch tree by the gate, he has started singing again. The problem, of course is that people in America have a different Robin to us. You guys have a kind of thrush – ours isn’t. I’ve made a recording of our Robin singing – you’ll find it at the end of the post.

Does it sound anything like yours?

Fine Feathers

Nuthatch

Nuthatch

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.

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.

Startling

Starling

Starling

Well, the big news for today is that it isn’t raining – yet. Today, Jackie wanted to clean and dust. The Dog likes nothing better than to get into a argument with the vacuum cleaner. Dog and vacuum and furniture makes cleaning complex, so The Dog and I went out for a walk while all that was going on. It was a dull, grey day but that nasty cold wind had taken the day off and temperature-wise is was quite pleasant.

On the way back, as we passed the big pine trees that grow up the back of our hill an agitated guttural bird call drew our attention upwards. Whoever it was, was quite high in the ivy covered tree and it took a while to pinpoint the source of the noise, I certainly wouldn’t call it bird song. With a quick point and click we snapped a few photos. Not sure if we had actually been pointing the camera in the right direction, but not wanting to prolong whoever’s agitation we carried on home.

And here’s the picture, a starling. Quite a surprise, we hardly ever see starlings around here. According to the RSPB, they have been having a tough time lately and have needed to go on the Red List of birds needing a little extra TLC.

Starlings are good mimics, and people who are interested in how humans first learnt to speak have been studying what the birds mimic and why, to see if they can pick up a few hints.

Push Off

If you go up the road, past the turn that takes you across the level crossing, the remains of an old wood rise up the hill on your left. Long before you arrive in the immediate vicinity, you can tell that the old trees near the top of the wood are the chosen site for the rookery. How anyone gets any sleep there is beyond me. They make such a noise. Continuously.

The buzzards are obviously irritated by all this cacophony and have decided to resolve the issue by eating their way through the whole colony. This is a major task but they feel they are up to it, moreover they feel that this is their true calling and their mission in life. Not only is the noise hard to live with but the rooks have an annoying habit of following the buzzards around and trying to take over any decent bits of road kill they find. So the buzzards’ campaign is aimed at killing two birds with one stone, so to speak.

There always seems to be two or three buzzards just drifting around above the rookery. This agitates the rooks, who suspect that there is more to their presence than local neighbourhood watch duties. Every now and then one of the rooks gets fed up with constantly looking over their shoulder and will rush out from the rookery waving their arms and shouting “Clear! Off!”.

Occasionally this will result in fisticuffs.

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