Posts Tagged "blackbird"

The deep green days

At 5am there had been the faintest sounds of rain. Apologetic rain, the sort of rain that knows it has to fall but feels dreadfully sorry about it so stays small and quiet, hoping its not noticed. By morning it was cooler than it had been for weeks. Cooler and cloudy, a good chance to explore before the sun re-emerged and turned the few spots of rain into humidity.

The lime tree right outside my door has noticeably raced towards seed in the past few weeks, decorating the ground and window ledges with its helicopters where they’ve snuck in through open windows.

At the top of the road the sparrows have fledged, but they’ve not gone far. They’re all in the laurel hedge and flitting down to the grass verge in search of food. Come the winter they’ll head for the beech hedge I expect, but that’s a long way away yet.

On the main road a pair of goldfinches catches my eye, but wait, there’s a sparrowhawk in pursuit of them! They dive into a bush and the sparrowhawk pursues, but they escape. The resident blackbirds in that garden are having none of this, however, and in a cacophony of wing flaps and alarm calls they mob the intruder away. Sparrowhawk flies up to a chimney pot and looks around, but the woodpigeons on the roof ridge and TV aerial seem utterly unconcerned by the presence of the predator, unconcerned to the point of disdainful looks. Apparently its hard work being a fearsome raptor some days.

On the back lane the bloom of flowers has disappeared, replaced by the deep, rich greens of the height of summer. Only the occasional stray avens near the ground or the first ripening blackberries break up the 50 shades of green of the mammoth hedge.

So early, they’re ripening so early, the heatwave forcing everything to rush to seed (and untidly too) it seems.

Even the late starting sweet chestnut in the copse is rushing to catch up, with the ground and the path through the copse littered with its worm-like flower remnants.

These are the green days now, the deep and darkening green days. Summer’s height is here.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

Patch walk, 16th June 2018

The rain has stopped, but its still cloudy and cool in the stiff breeze that’s blowing. Its fresh and changeable and interesting. Blackbird feeding on the grass verge is unconcerned as I pass by, walking up the road. Privet is starting to flower, joining the riot of summer on the back lane.

The copse has had a resident blackbird for months. Pulling worms from the same small area of grass. Its all the territory he has needed, but I’ve not been paying attention. I’ve been walking past his little area at the entrance to the copse and not been noticing his absence. While I’ve not been paying attention, he’s been busy; he flies past me with a beak full of food, disappearing into a bush where the copse meets the road.

He emerges soon after and he’s clocked me, standing there watching and reflecting on how foolish I was to make declarations like nesting in the copse was over for this year. Nature will always find a way to surprise. He perches up, calling in the direction of the bush, not an alarm call but a silence call. There’s so much evidence that there’s a nest there, but I can’t risk going to look and eventually he cracks and reverts to the classic alarm call, flying off in the opposite direction. Its textbook diversion. I’ll be keeping an eye on this bush from a safe distance.

With him gone I can see that the horse chestnut he was perched in has had an eruption of bracket fungi.

Of what type it is I am completely unsure. I’m fascinated by the world of fungi, but have very limited identification knowledge. Its a spectacular looking arrangement nonetheless.

The park is quiet for a Saturday, the rain putting off the fair-weather folk. Robin is calling before I even reach their territory, clicking and fussing in the trees and then diving down to the mealworms.

I don’t hang around there too long today, just long enough to check that all is well and to leave them food. I’m so fond of these particular robins and right now its all good news from them. I don’t want to risk anything there.

Round at the black spruce and there are squirrels. Lots and lots of squirrels. They’re on the tree, they’re foraging on the ground and they’re very happy to see me. Once I start handing out nuts its a steady stream of little faces appearing on the stump and in the V of the branches.

 

Braveheart and Buddy are to the fore, they’re well practiced at this drill, but there are more squirrels than that today. I count 5 of them taking from me today, some for the very first time. They mostly behave themselves, only a little bit of chasing going on. They’re all hungry I suspect so they manage to keep themselves apart from each other, perching in different parts of the tree to eat. Eventually they start running off to bury nuts but thankfully this is at the same time as I’m running out of nuts. They’ve eaten everything I’ve brought with me!

The robin from the yew trees has been flying to and fro while I’ve been standing there, landing nearby to catch my eye. With the nuts all gone he finally gets his reward for persistence and flies straight down to eat the suet nibbles I dropped in the usual spot below the laurel bush. Its been a great walk, lots to see, but time to head home.

Read More