Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Bird brained

I don't need my alarm clock any more. These days I am blessed with a Great Spotted Woodpecker who has a drumming post not far from my bedroom window. Each morning, just after 7 am, I am woken by his vibrating rattle.

Last year he drummed much further down the row of ash trees and it was a nice little far off sound, which I always found amusing, imagining his little head tap tapping at the tree. Now, though, with his drumming post just feet away from my slumbering head, he is proving a little less popular. Later on he can be found hanging from the peanut feeder, no doubt topping up his calorie levels for another early morning assault on my ears.

Not that I really mind. I love the fact that our garden is choc-a-block with birds. When the berries were still on the hawthorn tree I once counted six blackbirds at once. All male, all squabbling over the berries. We have one blackbird which flies through the front garden at dusk at a height of about four feet from the ground, shrieking in alarm. If you walk round the corner of the house at the right (or wrong) moment, you can have a near miss with one very angry bird.

At our previous home, our neighbour used to call "Blackie, Blackie" out of her kitchen window. When we had just moved in we once called over to ask her if she had lost her cat.

"No!" she laughed. "My blackbird."

Sure enough she called, and Blackie popped out from the hedge between the two houses for the tasty morsels she had put on her birdtable. We got into the habit of feeding him and calling him too, although, since they all look the same, for all I know we spent years feeding a whole host of blackbirds, all smart enough to answer to the call for "Blackie, Blackie"!

It is always a thrill to see some of the birds who visit our birdtable. The upside-down nuthatch with their spiky streamlined beak, the twitchy wren hopping about on the wall, the squabbling tits - blue, great, coal and willow - the occasional goldfinch and all the other various sparrows, chaffinches, dunnocks and siskins. We also get pretty pairs of collared doves and jays by the half dozen. Magpies laugh from the ash tree branches above and squirrels hang gracefully upside down while their wicked, clever paws peel open the feeder to greedily grab all the nuts.

Domestically we have only one duck left now. Poor old Persil is alone. Ecover was grabbed by the fox early one morning. I think Persil must be one very scared little duck. I sympathise with him and he quacks back. Still the same, dim duck, probably wondering where all his friends have gone. The only evidence of Ecover are some alarming fox-shaped footprints scuffing up the bark and a sad puff of feathers.
Still, Persil soldiers on alone and as long as he continues to put himself to bed early (a habit he has gained after Ecover's demise) and remembers to have a lie-in in the mornings, he should last a while longer. Meanwhile plans are afoot for Fort Knox (or should that be Fort Dux?) and once built, Persil, if he has managed to avoid Mr Fox's dinner table, will get some new friends.


  1. Persil is so beautiful.
    I have all the same birds as you but then we are in the same country. I love my birds, can't imagine life without them. Great blog.

  2. I just love those names PM - had me giggling! I can't wait for the Spring to arrive properly; so sick of wearing layers and want to get out and sort our duck pen too xx

  3. I agree, Persil is adorable. Not that anything I wash in Persil ends up white ... perhaps I should be popping a duck in the washing machine

  4. Oh I do hope persil survives . . . .

    Very busy bird table you have. It seems to be getting more and more expensive feeding the birds though. I go through about £30 a month in seed and suet blocks and peanuts and could spend a lot more . . . are you finding the same.

  5. Love your description of your bird table - ours is so similar, all the same familiar faces (?). YOur ducks are great too, sorry, duck. We are thinking of having some but will have to build up to it. Great names.


I am sorry to have to add word verification thing again but I keep getting spammed.