Posts made in June, 2018

Back door moments

The heatwave continues. It feels like moving through treacle to be out in the heat of the day.

The birds are still moving quickly around the garden, as I stand at the back door, watching them.

Juvenile blue tits like the feeder alongside “their” willow tree during the day.

In the evening they visit the main feeder pole closer to the house instead.

That feeder pole is ruled by the starlings, whenever they land during the day.

There’s a definite hierarchy between them also, the young ones are put in their place.

And then there are the sparrows, ever present, ever welcome. They’re bringing their fledglings and showing them where the food is.

And they’re just spending time in the bushes. Sheltering from the heat as much as I am, or at least I’m finding that very easy to imagine right now.

I’m so grateful that I only have to look out of the window to see the wild, but I’m especially grateful for it on these hot and treacle-filled days.

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Early morning

The heat is pressing. Too much to sleep in with the sun up too. May as well get up, go and see what the world looks like at this time.

Up and out early, awake before the dandelions have even got out of bed.

There is a breeze, a blessedly cool breeze, enough to stir fresh leaves of fern that have gained a foothold in a wall.

Wren is singing insistently. Blackbird pipes enquiringly. Collared Dove sounds rough, not fond of so many early mornings perhaps. Chaffinch greets the morning with enthusiasm, still happy to have days to sing for.

And in the park all is lit by early morning sun.

Pollen dust dances where sun’s fingers find it. All is deep, cool shadow and rich pools of colourful light.

Sun climbs higher, lighting leaves from behind.

The sun will climb, the heat will build, the day as warm as the rest of the week, but I will have seen the day in the small hours, felt the cool before it is chased away and the memory of light and breeze will sustain me through the day.

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Stumpy and Tic Tac

Injury, responsibilities and this remarkable heatwave has kept me away from me usual patch walks over the past few days. Thankfully there’s still goings-on in the garden to watch in the meantime, though even the birds seems to be going slowly in the heat.

One of the great pleasures of having a small patch, or indeed a small garden, is that you get to know the wildlife in it not just as that type of bird or this type of animal, but you get to know them as individuals. You get to know them as recognisable, as having their own distinct personalities and inevitably you end up naming them too. I think that’s nothing but a good thing, engaging with the wild on a personal level helps remind us that is not them and us, but its us together.

So it was that Stumpy and Tic Tac were in the garden the other day.

Stumpy turned up in the garden without any tail feathers. Have they been moulted and the little robin is very limited in movement until they grow back? Or was it, perhaps, the result of a close encounter with one of the many local cats? Either way, Stumpy was here for the day and was going to make the most of it. Sometimes skulking in the bushes, sometimes hopping around at the edges.

Then the focus shifted to sunbathing, looking for all the world like he’d made a failed high speed landing and crashed into the ground! He hadn’t of course, he was just making the most of the sun, stretching wings out to the max.

And not just one sunbathing session either, but multiple times through the day.

Also in the garden is Tic Tac the robin, so named for his seeming pleasure in continually making the robin alarm call, no matter where he is in the garden or what he is doing.

Tic Tac is a juvenile, one of the 2018 edition robins, and seems to have well and truly settled in to my garden as his current home. He’s all bravado with his constant calls, like he’s trying to claim the garden as a territory even though he’s still too young. Come the autumn and the moult, however, he may be taken a lot more seriously and might even win out as the new resident robin.

Meanwhile, Tic Tac doesn’t seem to have received the memo that robins are ground feeding birds! Regular visits are being made to the hanging feeders, particularly the coconut.

Stumpy, it seems, was only here for the day. Not seen stumpy since, though I’ve been looking. Tic Tac I don’t even need to look for, just keep an ear out and I know he’s still around. One passing through, one resident, both memorable in their own ways.

There’s a lot to be said for enjoying the wildlife around you on the personal level. What names do you give to your individual local favourites?

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In the little moments

Its in the little moments that a fascination with the world beyond our human concerns is sown. The little moments, that like a dolly zoom effect in a movie, grow in an instant into very big moments. There is so much life poured into those moments. They are vital, quickening. We only have to look.

Look, and see blackbirds posing grumpily on gate posts in the morning.

See a juvenile goldfinch, barely weeks old and filled with curiosity, visiting a bird bath for the first time.

See a juvenile robin, all unknowing bravado, settle down for a sunbathe.

See a chaffinch, still singing loudly about wanting a ginger beer on the summer solstice, barely feet above your head, unconcerned at or not noticing your presence.

And see a squirrel, stretching to pull up a dandelion leaf from beneath a pot to eat it….

…then take a drink…

…Then eat a lone ear of wheat that must have grown up from a stray seed that fell from a bird feeder in the deep winter, showing off its moulting of winter fur along its back…

…then reach for another and fall off.

Stray moments. Random moments. Full, rich, glorious moments. Happening every single day, just outside your window. Stop and look, the wild is right there.

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Of sparrows & squirrels, Patch Walk 20th June 2018

A soft rain starts to fall as I step out of the door. I could go back in and get a waterproof, its probably the sensible decision, but…no, its a very welcome chance to take a walk in the summer rain. Grasp the chance and go.

Up the road there’s a sparrow trying to hover by a garden wall, trying to pick insects off the wall. Then, it flies up to the eaves of a nearby house and disappears. Hang on, did I just see what I think I saw? I watch a while longer, seeing other sparrows coming and going from the same spot below the roof. Could it really be a sparrow nesting colony? I’ve had sparrows in my garden and on my feeders for as long as I can remember, but I’ve never seen where they’ve nested before. I’m very excited that this might be it! Best of all, they’re nesting in the house where the new occupants replaced their whole garden with astroturf. Nature fights back…

Nature also fights back on the back lane, when the soft rain turns into a sudden deluge. I shelter under a tree for a while, enjoying watching how the rain can turn even the most unappealing looking nook or crannie into something with a dash of magic.

As the rain softens again I head off towards the copse, enjoying seeing some interesting wall decorations along the way. Not entirely sure how this dandelion managed to root itself, but its undeniably impressive work!

In the copse the wind is stirring the trees into wild dances, the leaves acting like giant sails. The sound of it is glorious, but its the only sound I do hear in the copse today. Despite waiting and watching the bushes at the edge of the road for a while all I see today is a pair of drenched woodpigeons.

The rain seems to have emptied the park, I’ve got the place practically to myself. The tree cover is so dense in parts that there’s still no rain on the ground beneath some of them. Very useful when you’re standing and watching wildlife and I expect the robins at the robin spot find it useful too.

Only one parent appears to collect mealworms today and interestingly they’re flying off in the opposite direction to where their nest is located when they’ve collected the food. Could they have already fledged from the nest, or is parent robin flying a deliberately deceptive route today?

Onwards, past singing chaffinch and wren and calling great tit, until I’m at the black spruce tree. A shake of nuts and the squirrels start coming.

Its fascinating to see their different personalities at work. From the bold and the brazen, who know exactly where to place themselves to ensure they get a nut, to the cautious and the clever, who watch for an opening from a distance before sprinting in.

One is almost apologetically polite in the way its little face pops into view to ask if it can have a nut.

There’s at least 5 squirrels taking nuts again today, Autumn can’t come soon enough for these little fellows. Once again they eat every single nut out of my bag and I’m left handing out the shelled nuts left in the bottom, as well as I can do, anyway. Buddy the squirrel soon works out the best way to get them.

The robin from the laurel bush is also being brazen in its efforts to make sure that I’ve seen that they’re there and they want some food. They’re instantly on to the nibbles I throw and swiftly joined by the resident blackbird too.

With the food bags empty, its time to go. Its been good to see the patch in the summer rain.

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