Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Mrs Massey's Blackbirds

I have a dear friend called Mrs Massey who I've known for years. We've been friends ever since our children were little. We used to meet up for coffee and cake in each others houses while the children played, and then later, when the kids started school, we got a dog each and took to walking through the woods, inevitably ending up somewhere that served homemade cake (you can spot the theme running through here).

I read years ago that there is a critical mass of friends in terms of numbers; if you go above it you don't have sufficient time to invest properly in each individual person. So you can have a hundred friends, but only seven of them will be getting real value from you. Another good friend of mine carries out a periodic "pruning" of people to keep on top of this. She says you can collect people without really thinking about it and end up feeling squashed by them- giving little bits of time to too many people without ever really connecting properly with any of them. If I haven't heard from her in a while we have a laugh that I've been "pruned". Anyway, the optimum number of good and close friends is supposed to be around 6. These are the people you would call at 2am if there was an emergency. Whether it be coincidence or not, I have 7 close friends who fall into this bracket and Mrs M is definitely one of them.

Mrs M and her hubby are the sort of friends who, as well as offering emergency aid, can also be entirely relied upon to come up with the goods when the call goes out for a fancy dress party. Indeed, the four of us have been known to sit down to supper at the Massey's on a summer's evening with the boys in short trousers, caps and school ties and Mrs M and I in uniforms and pigtails, as if it were a completely normal thing to do. 
When they had a nativity-themed Christmas party a few years ago Mrs M and I went as angels, Mr M and my M as the inn keeper and a sheep respectively. My father-in-law had kindly offered to babysit that night and the poor man looked rather stunned when we came downstairs all dressed up and ready to go. Our kids took it in their stride (being used to it) but I guess nothing prepares you for seeing your forty year old son wearing a full-body (including head) sheep costume and your daughter-in-law sporting a long white wig complete with hovering halo, wings and silver leggings. I think he thought we were mad, although he was too polite to say so. But that was nothing to what the other drivers thought, judging by the looks we got on the way to the party. I don't suppose you often see a six foot sheep driving an angel in a small red car along a quiet country lane at Christmas time. 







Anyway, Mrs M and I spend a lot of time laughing together, which is probably why we're friends. On the whole I think we probably don't often tell our friends what they mean to us, and as I know she'll be reading this (and blushing) it's a good opportunity for me to say: Mrs M you are a star, and I love you (and Dan you're not bad either). 

Our lovely friends, the Masseys





Anyway, yesterday we were having a natter and she asked if I'd like to come and see her baby blackbirds. For the last few years the Masseys have had a blackbird nesting next to their house. The bird gets very used to people and this year was no different. I couldn't believe how near to the house she'd chosen to make her nest (they're in a bush which is attached to the house wall about four foot up near the back door) and how unconcerned the babies were at visitors as a result.

I popped back this morning with the camera because it isn't often you can take pics of babies in a nest that close up and not worry either them or the parent. So here they are. Mrs M tells me there are five children in there, all a good size and all looking about ready to fledge. 



The nest is in this bush on the wall to the right of the back door


After a few anxious weeks on the baby bird front it does now seem that things are finally moving in the right direction. Just before the gloaming (my favourite time of day and a great word) yesterday the long tailed tits brought their brood down to the twisted willow outside the breakfast room. I counted eight birds in all, so with two parents that means six babies. They all looked well, round and fluffy with shorter tails than their parents, and were very vocal and busy flitting about in the branches. The parents were flying from the tree to the feeder and back, stuffing food into hungry beaks. 
Yesterday's fledgling dunnock has also been joined by a sibling who looks equally well. Both are feeding for themselves with the occasional top up from mum and dad. Thank goodness. All I need now are the robins and the blue tits to bring their children to the garden and I will feel normal service has been resumed. It we get a nuthatch and a woodpecker baby I will fall over.


14 comments:

  1. I was laughing out loud when I read about the pruning... I think I have been pruned and have been pruning... but then I think that is more honest! However, I think I will add this saying in my vocabulary! Lucky you to have Mrs M and Mr M and vice versa! You seem to live in a bird's kindergarten - and I do hope we will read you falling over... if you know what I mean! Happy day! Christa

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    1. Hi Christa,
      Yes I think the pruning is something we all do secretly! I will also hope to be falling over soon! CT x

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  2. Blackbirds can become very comfortable around humans. I had one that would follow me around the garden, like a robin. It would get easily within touching distance.

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    1. I do love blackbirds. BTW- having huge problems commenting on your blog today. If it still doesn't work later I'll leave the comment here for you! CT x

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    2. Thanks for letting me know about the commenting problem. What happens when you try? If you can describe the symptoms I'll investigate.

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    3. It comes up with "Internal Server Error" and then says:
      The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.
      Please contact the server administrator, and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.
      More information about this error may be available in the server error log.

      Has been fine commenting on other blogs. I was going to say your post really made me smile and I think you have a lucrative business waiting in summer cloche production. Was it Venison a la mouse for tea??

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  3. I've heard of a wolf in sheep's clothing but never a sheep in dark glasses and red braces ;-) Good friends are very special, I have known my dearest friend since we were five years old and started school together.

    Lovely to see Mrs M's baby Blackbirds, you were very privileged to see them so closely. It sounds like things are really moving in your garden too. Lovely photos of the Dunnock yesterday and the little mouse too. I'm very envious about the LTT babies. I see adults flitting in and out of my garden sometimes but have never had a family with babies. Further to your info on Cuckoos, the eggs they lay often even resemble those of the host they choose! There's no disguising the size of those babies though ;-)

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    1. Yes I think the dark glasses really make the outfit ;-)
      Re the Cuckoos I'm torn between admiration at how clever they are and outrage at the cheek of it. The babies look so preposterous beside their "mums" don't they? I often wonder whether the "mums" ever ask themselves what's gone wrong this year, when their enormous baby towers over them demanding to be fed?!

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  4. Very envious about your LTT babies too! Still no sign of our Nuthatch chicks. Lovely pictures of the Blackbirds. I have about the same number of those friends but a large proportion of them don't live here, which is a real shame. We only moved here eleven years ago and when we got here, we knew NOBODY. So pleased you have such easy access to such a fantastic friend.

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  5. I got v excited earlier- thought a nuthatch baby was in the willow, but pretty sure it was two adults, squeaking away to each other. I am lucky to have Mrs M so near, my other close friends are all nearby too apart from two of them. It's tough moving somewhere where you don't know anyone, good friends take time to make, but they are worth it :-)

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  6. I feel you must prepare for next years pirate festival looking at those pictures. How lovely to see the chicks in the nest, they look so snug, and great to have so many others. You are lucky.

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    1. Definitely up for pirate day. Saw Mrs M this morning for a dog walk and the chicks have all fledged, so a good job I took the pics yesterday!

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  7. A lovely post about your friendship. The baby Blackbirds are gorgeous; I've had them nesting right next to the backdoor, too. I'm glad you're seeing more young birds in the garden now.

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    1. Are yours about to fly as well Wendy? Hopefully you won't have the magpie problem we had here. Now just waiting on the robins, blue tits and great tits, the nuthatches and woodpeckers would be brilliant but I'm not holding my breath!

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Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x