Painted lady, Peacock, Holly Blue, Gatekeeper, Small Tortoishell and Cabbage White enjoying the flowers while a skimmer dragonfly and dunnock forage in the shrubbery.
So here we go. That day of the year when me and all the neighbourhood stress out. The day that the blue tits fledge from my nest box.
This year there appears to be only one. One precious chick that the parents have worked their socks off to get this far and now flops around the garden, calling, calling and attracting every predator in the area to come and investigate.
I am out there early on cat watch but I can’t stay out all day. My neighbour is out in the garden enjoying a rare glimpse of warm sun and trying to read a book.
“I have to go in and clean the house,” I tell you. “You have to take over.”
She calls in the help of Blue, the Chihuahua. “You have work to do, Blue,” she tells him. See off the cats.”
I go inside to try to get on with my weekend chores but all the time one eye is on the garden. I try to do the washing up. A Jay arrives. I am torn. Jays have babies to feed too and my blue tit chick would make a good meal. I can’t interfere in the natural order, not really but I convince myself I am going out to check on the washing on the line and it flies off.
All day this will go on. The chick will call and seem unable to fly and I and all the neighbours will fret.
“What happens at nightfall?” My neighbour asks. “You can’t just leave it. You will have to take it in and feed it.”
I tell her that nature has to take its course. I know it has to. I know that the blue tit baby must learn to fend for itself or die but it is hard not to interfere when something so seemingly helpless is under your care.
These violets seem to cut and come again on my neighbours lawn. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they spread under the fence.
February 3rd and the blue tits have decided that spring is here and are back to exploring the nestbox.
Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah, goldfinches in the garden. I knew there was some reason I hadn’t cut down that bloody huge teasel plant.
Today I witnessed a starling singling lesson. An adult sat on my tv aerial and ran through it’s repertoire of clicks and whistles while a youngster sat two doors down attempting to imitate but producing little more that some scratchy squeals. The adult tried again, talking in the most animated fashion about, I guess, the sky, the weather, the amount of craneflies to eat and where to find them. He stopped and stared at the youngster as if to say, “go on then, you’re turn.”
After a moment the youngster began, quietly whispering a little ditty, like a shy teenager on a school stage on speech night. Then both fell quiet, contemplating perhaps that a few more lessons were going to be needed.
Woolly bears were everywhere when I was a little girl. They were the ‘go to’ caterpillar for the pre pubescent naturalist wishing to imprison them in a jar and watch them turn into chrysalis and then become the beautiful black and orange garden tiger moth. As children we lived with tales of the terrible rash which would erupt on our limbs if we touched them but touch them of course we did.Then they became rare then they seemed to disappear from our ever more tidy gardens.
Luckily, with all this rain, my garden is a jungle and the woolly bear can roam at will. This one was tucking into an evening meal of jasmine.