Friday, 17 February 2017

Hailing Far Spring...

Valentine's Day is when the birds do choose their make.

Right enough, action in the garden is hotting up. 

Here's my garden, in a picture taken last year.

It is so bleak and grey and cold out there at the moment - except for one bright clump of primroses at the end of the pond which have never stopped flowering. But shoots are coming up everywhere: all over the garden and in pots. I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to them flowering.

The pond we dug out last January has been wonderfully successful in increasing the number of visiting birds. Before we had zero. Now they come winging in every single day. We have our own little colony of sparrows and before, I never appreciated how acrobatic they are. They hover at the feeders while trying to find a place. They chase each other round them. Today I saw a couple doing loop-the-loops around each other in mid-air. They reguarly come down in a mob to drink at the pool's edge and bathe, even on the coldest day.

We've got used to the fact that the birds resent our presence in the garden. If we linger over tasks, they crowd the trees and yell at us. If we persist, they drop down to slightly nearer branches and yell louder. I've come to recognise the peculiar whistling whoop that starlings make and the craak-craak-craak of magpies. The moment we step back inside the house, they come down to the pond and feeders in flocks before we can pull the door shut.

The magpies swagger about, wearing their gangster black-and-white. Until I saw them close up and so often, I never realised what an iridescent shimmer of petrol blue runs over their black feathers.

The starlings come in gangs of five and seven, with wicked beaks like stilettos, and frantically fight to get into small hanging bird tables and squabble with the sparrows over the spaces on the feeders. Or they plummet down and raid the ground-feeder.

There is a tiny wren that we see more and more often as Spring approaches. It drank from the pond today, a tiny little ball on the edge of a slate. It searched the rose bush above the pond and walks
Wren:  Dibyendu Ash, wikimedia
vertically up walls, investigating the slight crevices between bricks. A couple of days ago it was right by the patio doors, pecking away at something invisible and taking no notice of us. Update: I was turning the compost heap yesterday and a bird above me in the tree was calling out repeatedly in a very loud but melodious voice. Thinking it might be the blackbird, I looked up - and it was the wren. I could see it clearly silhouetted against the sky: a tiny round ball with its tail stuck up at right angles. Its voice is about five times bigger than it is.

Woodpigeons, robins, blackbirds, bluetits and dunnocks visit us reguarly. The bluetit, yesterday, perched on the very highest twig of the leafless lilac and turned this way and that, stretching up onto tip-toe, as he shouted and yelled. Another bluetit came to a lower branch and appeared to listen. They whizz back and forth to the feeders like tiny, bright bits of animated enamel.

And this character (below) has dropped in every day for a week. He has a long spring-loaded tail which you can't see in this photo but which constantly twitches up and down as he hops and pecks about the pond and investigates the ground-feeder.

Grey Wagtail: Wikimedia: Glyn Baker
 Thrilled with so much success, I have plans for next year. I've invested in a silver birch and a holly for my 'wood.' And I'm creating a mini-orchard where my shed used to be. I have a cherry, a bardsey apple and a plum tree, all grown in pots. They have leaf-buds and seem to be doing well. I'm keenly looking forward to seeing how they do.

They will add more leafage, more pollen-producing flowers (never mind the hay-fever) more bark - and therefore more insects. Which in turn will mean more birds and animals that eat insects. I would like to see frogs in my pond. And a newt. I would really love to have a newt.

I planted a St. Swithin rose today, to climb over a fence, both to hide the rather ugly fence and to provide more hiding/living space for birds and insects. I'd like to have a hazel tree in a pot because I love hazelnuts. And strawberries and bilberries. Perhaps a tiny wild flower meadow in a raised bed.
We shall see how much of this comes to - er - fruition.


Sue Purkiss said...

It sounds like a little bit of heaven!

Susan Price said...

Thanks Sue, but it's actually more like a small back yard. I am far more fond of it than the house, though.

E-bloguer said...

après exellent, félicitations
: e-bloguer

Penny Dolan said...

Love your wonderful descriptions of all the different birds and their habits and calls. Inspiring, especially when I look out at the too-many brambly patches here.