Sunday, 21 May 2017

Local, local patch

After weeks of planning, it was a weekend of preparing and cooking and hospitality as we celebrated 80 years well-lived.It was a privilege to mark the milestone with Mum. Last night we slept deeply and woke slowly.Time today to breath quietly, count our blessings and take stock of our own local, local green patch. 

The new pond is wilding nicely. Very gradually the water is clearing, as nature finds her balance. We have planted with native, or near native, species and taken a step back. Already there are pond skaters, lavae and diving beetles. It is a magnet for the birds. Young starlings, softly brown and speckled, are splashing and dipping in the shallow end, washing their brand new feathers. They clamber on the rocks and hide under the leaves like toddlers at a picnic.

Later this afternoon, I noticed a satisfactory conclusion to a little midweek drama! A pair of great spotted woodpeckers have been constant visitors to the peanut feeder. They must be raising a brood, but I can't find the nest. They are aggressive on the nuts; their stabbing beaks chase off the starlings, finches and tits. But they can't bully the rooks. During a rook-full moment, the GSWs waited in the walnut tree and looked for alternative food sources. The great tit nest in the old ivy drew their attention and I watched as they explored the nestbox, tapping the underside and reaching in through the entrance. 

However, today the great tits had fledged. The walnut tree was full of little birds, pale imitations of their parents. They sat, blinking in the bright light and slightly bemused. But the GSWs were only interested in the peanuts.

I stretched out, briefly, in the late afternoon sun and let the garden do its restorative work. The air was vibrant with noise and movement. Insects zummed and thrummed their busy paths. Sparrows and starlings jostled and chattered in noisy groups and the swifts screamed overhead. 

No time, this weekend, for long walks and big views, but our local, local patch has cast its spell. There is plenty going on right here.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Local patch 8

In the pearl dawn, we are rooked. They clamber and cling in the walnut tree, their chieftains standing sentinel on the telegraph poles outside our bedroom window. They thrust their shoulders forward and stretch out their necks and great bony faces. And they caw and rasp and craa. It is a crackle and racket that gradually fills the room and drags me from sweet, soft dreaming. Their insistent notes drown the dawn chorus; I love it. They meet in the walnut tree where they flap and scramble until they can get a turn on the bird feeders. And then they dangle, hooked and stabbing at the fat balls. Some can remove the lid of the feeder and fly away with a whole fat ball, a high calorie breakfast. Until, as if on command, they rise and circle and are gone. They head out of the village to their feeding grounds on Aller Bank where the soft, peaty fields allow them to stab their sharp bills into the ground in search of worms and other invertebrates. They are sociable animals, communicating constantly in big, ragged groups. There are always jackdaws too. Smaller and silver shawled, they add their soft clucks and yips to the rooky racket. 

I have been trying to take a photo to accompany this post. But I have noticed that, even though they are big, bold, brazen birds, rooks are surprisingly flighty. As soon as I approach the window or door, they are spooked. Even movement or noise inside the house sets them off in alarm. So no photo - not yet ...