Sunday, 10 June 2012

Martin's birds

Apologies to my fellow mothpersons for going way off message, but I've not been trapping in the rather uncertain weather. My mothery has mostly consisted of being immersed in the micro Bible, specially its excellent section on searching for the tiny beasts by day. Recommended equipment includes 'a stout stick' which seems a bit heavy-handed. To be fair, it's for beating a way through thick undergrowth, of which the UK still has surprising large amounts.

We are lucky to have a small share here and as a result, we have always enjoyed a rich variety of birds. A family of Long-tailed tits are zooming around all over the place at the moment, exactly like exuberant teenagers. Goldcrests flute away in their thin, distinctive tones (is this their recent home, below, in Penny's hand, or maybe the Long-tailed tits?) and our Sparrowhawk family will soon be about from their penthouse at the top of a tall pine.

Last week we were visited by a wonderful thrush - Song or Mistle, I don't know - which chose the highest point of our highest tree and sang its heart out at dusk. We were celebrating too, because we have a pond and a couple of years ago, when there was all the fuss about an MP claiming expenses for his duck house, we built one in a day out of a wooden box. I couldn't claim it on expenses because it didn't cost anything.

This year, mirabile dictu, it has been home to a duck for a month and last week I surprised her with these, her ten kids. They have gone now, which I gather (and hope) is normal, in search of a proper stretch of water. But they will remain in my memory. On the other side of things, Nature is famously cruel and most un-Beatrix Potterlike, and it was sad to find the remains of a young jay on our lawn - top picture. Cats? Or maybe a nasty posse of magpies and crows. Cruel birds, although beautiful in their own way.

Finally, our Victorian house almost has more window than wall, like Hardwick Hall, and that exacts a toll in birdstrike every year. Three years ago, this even included one of the Sparrowhawks which flew straight into a window, so hard that it left a ghostly image (recorded on the blog here). Here is the latest victim, sadly. A nuthatch. Fortunately we have plenty of these, diligently going down our trees in search of grubs while a couple of pairs of treecreepers go up.

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