Saturday, 23 February 2008

Heron on the roof

My partner woke at 1.30 am on Thursday night hearing feet scrabbling on the roof. He sleeps in the loft room so he flung open the Velux and switched on the torch. He expected to see a rat, but instead it was a heron, its feet scrabbling for purchase on the slippery tiles.

Next morning he discovered that he no longer had 12 fish in his pond, but only 11. Fortunately my favourite, Sandra, a very athletic goldfish with a blonde head who wiggles rapidly to the surface and makes an Olympic leap several times a day, was still there. But the traumatised fish have spend the last two days huddled together in a tight group, perhaps thinking there is safety in numbers.

Lulled into a sense of false security, the netting had been taken off the pond but now it's securely back in place. Just what was a heron doing fishing by night? They are not nocturnal birds. Perhaps it was taking advantage of the bright moonlight. Strangely enough, the missing fish was the only completely white one so perhaps that made it easier to see.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Lonely Thrush

Today this thrush spend two solid hours in the garden, occasionally giving a little run and pecking, but mostly just standing looking lost. At first I thought it might be injured but when, eventually, my partner went out and tried to scare it off for fear our cat woke up and went out, it flew up into a tree. Its behaviour was certainly most unusual and I can't help feeling that this is the mate of the one the cat killed last month (see my other blog, for the full story) and that it (I think it is a female) was looking, listening, waiting and hoping. All in vain. I can only hope that it does find another mate, though as we know there are fewer and fewer song thrushes around these days. In the meantime, it really does look terribly sad.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Wasp on the carpet

I was just walking towards the stairs carrying far too much as usual - glasses case, mug of coffee, sundry items of junk mail - when I saw a wasp on the carpet. It had obviously come from upstairs, where the occasional one has terrorised me on my typing chair for the last couple of months. (I've looked in every cupboard and can't find a nest. )It was a bit slow and groggy so I put down my burdens and went for the glass-and-postcard method. It worked well and the wasp was soon trapped in the glass.

I resisted the temptation to put my eye to the tumbler for an eyeball to eyeball encounter, just in case I moved the postcard and the beast escaped, in vengeful mood. Going to A&E with a wasp-sting in the eye isn't my idea of an ideal Tuesday.

The patio door was already open - I'd planned this wasp-nap in advance, in minute detail. Out I went and was just about to whisk the card from under the glass like a magician's cloth when out of nowhere an enormous bumblebee appeared and made straight for me. My scream must have been audible at Heathrow, three miles away. When I looked at the glass, the wasp was gone. Where, I do not know. Hope it's not up my sweatshirt.

Buzzard Blitzkrieg

At around eight this morning, the birds suddenly took off. The sky was wheeling and whirring with wings belonging to starlings, pigeons, crows and even parakeets. Then, once they had all buried themselves in the branches, I saw it, majestically wheeling high above the garden and over the fields that border Charville Lane.

Buzzards prefer eating carrion. They don't go into a stoop and plummet from the sky, or make an air strike into the garden from a high tree. They soar and spy. The garden birds have far more to fear from the sparrowhawk, but the fear of a large shadow looming above them is enough to send them into a flap. They must have the ability to differentiate between the shape and, perhaps, the aerial gait, of one large bird and another, for they don't fly for cover when the heron glides over. Instead, the larger birds such as crows, mob it and try to drive the poor, innocent fish eater away.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Wren poem

Here is a poem I wrote for my mother's birthday about fifteen years ago.


She makes her home in hollow, hidden places
Away from fox's scent and human sight.
A tiny hole in ivy will provide
A front door fringed with fern and brushed by briar.
A dark and twiggy space becomes her window,
A dappled latticework of day and night
Through which the spider parachutes for prey;
A bush her garden, and for jewels she has
The diamante necklace of the rain.
Like Morse code, her erratic, darting flight
Is worked in dots and dashes. Brash and bright
Her singing, while her quick, sharp, golden beak
Stabs the slow moth with music in the dusty light.

Bird Threesomes!

The sparrowhawk didn't catch the blackbird. There are two males and one female in the garden. I believe the darker, sleeker-looking male is the pair's fledgling from last year, as they make no attempt to drive it away. Similarly, a pair of crows are always in the garden in a threesome with one of the young they raised last year. Is this a new trend in bird behaviour?