And so they have. The blue tits and great tits have had masses of small children out and about for the past few weeks, bringing them in to the garden to eat everything in sight, and the starlings (new for this year) have also got three kids who come periodically. Mr and Mrs Sparrow are on to their second batch and have enlisted the help of last year's children in finishing off bringing up the first set from this year, and I have so far seen one baby robin and a few blackbird smalls. Now I can at long last add the GSW's Child to this list, as observed yesterday quietly feeding on the coconut halves, a good deal less bothered by my presence than either of his parents...
In order to be in with even a fighting chance of getting their picture I have to perform what can only be described as the kind of soldier-in-training routine that would test the most committed of military aspirants. It involves me frantically waving my arms and hissing at the rest of the family to be ABSOLUTELY SILENT and NOT to come ANYWHERE NEAR the kitchen under any circumstances, while dropping to my knees and crawling across the floor (regardless of its current state of cleanliness or - more usually - not), keeping my head below window-height until I reach the kitchen cupboards at the far end where the camera usually is, then feeling along the top of the surfaces for it, sliding it off the surface without dropping it, switching it on and setting the zoom and then finally backing out of the kitchen before sliding sideways behind the wall so I can stand up without them noticing. I worked out (to my cost) that trying to stand up and hide behind the central bar between the two windows doesn't work - I'm not fooling anyone that I'm thin enough so as to be invisible standing there, let alone a bird who possesses the kind of inner radar that any stealth-reconnaissance plane would be proud of. I then have to lean surreptitiously sideways round the edge of the wall like someone trying to check the next street for snipers without getting their head shot at, while all the time trying not to over-balance and fall flat on my face and so ruin the whole point of the performance. Only then can I look for the GSW, who is by this time thoroughly suspicious in that sixth-sense way of theirs and is about ready to bolt.
It is, frankly, a miracle I have got any pictures of the adults at all. And now that I've told you what I have to go through to get them (the least of which is my family standing in a silent semi-circle watching this performance with grins a mile wide), I hope you'll fully appreciate the lengths I go to for your entertainment on this blog.....(although it has just occurred to me that you would probably find it more funny if I just got M to video my attempts to get the photo, rather than the photo itself...)
The red cap is a sign of juveniles. I suspect this is a male as the cap is smaller in females. In the adults, only the male has a red bar at the back of his head, as is seen in this pic of dad...
Great Spotted Woodpeckers have one brood between April and June and usually lay 4-7 eggs in a hole they excavate for the purpose in the branches or trunks of trees. They drill for insects beneath the bark of trees and will also predate smaller birds, particularly fledglings of blue tits, using their drilling action to break into nest boxes. So far, this is the first GSW Child I have seen- last year there were three.
Our blue tit babies have avoided the woodpecker's jaws and are thoroughly savvy now about the various feeders we have in the garden. I thought this was a Novel and Inventive way of making absolutely certain there was not even a hint of fat left in the coconut half while pretending not to be there at all from the other side....A Perfect Fit, wouldn't you say?
The Bird Children are not the only Smalls to be seen in the garden this week. Although our rat problem has been largely solved by shifting the girls to ma's (where they are enjoying themselves), I did spot a single Rat Child darting about recently on the lookout for seeds. I espouse a live-and-let-live attitude to rats, as long as there aren't hundreds of them....so I think he is fine where he is.
We do however currently have a mouse problem.
Or, more accurately, a Single Mouse Problem.
One Mouse has Taken Up Residence in the Utility Room where he is also taking the
An audible tiny peal of laughter can be heard coming from that room milliseconds after the 'snap!' shut of the trap door occurs.
Right-O, I thought, clearly the food needs to be bigger and heavier, so when he heaves it about, the mechanism that triggers the door is set off and hey-presto! One trapped mouse.
So I stuck in a lump of cheese.
I've just got back from the school run to find the cheese sitting Quite Some Distance from the trap underneath the washing machine and on top of a pile of treasure (mostly seeds). The mouse is sitting beside his hoard smiling. The trap door remains open.
I think that's called adding insult to injury.
Never Mind. He hasn't banked on me forking out for a proper Longworth Small Mammal Trap, which is what will be coming his way if he doesn't stop taking the pee very soon....(these are professional ecology traps that don't harm the small folk, just enable you to catch them to study them). M says he has to be taken a mile away once we've got him or he thinks he'll just come straight back. Having suffered a week of being laughed at and made a fool of by this mouse I am now inclined to agree with him.
There are other none-feathery children in the garden- this is a Vapourer Moth's child in the form of a Very Hairy Caterpillar....
Which is Very Curious because although this is the second time I've seen one of these pillars in our garden, I have never seen the moth....
The Starlings continue to appear, scoff all the food and split...
And yesterday there was a Very Noisy family of wren's squabbling in the trees to one side of the garden. I just about made out mummy (absolutely tiny but with a huge voice) and thought I glimpsed her children bouncing about behind her. They look like small brown balls of cotton wool with sticks poking out of them (their tails, in case you were wondering).
I'll finish on a Bird Theme (for the purposes of Symmetry) and leave you with a short video shot last night of our Song Thrush in action. He/ she has taken to singing every evening as the light starts to fade in the trees beside the house. I did get a video of the actual bird singing, but it wobbled so much (the vid, not the bird) that I felt sick watching it back and didn't want to impose that on you, so you'll have to just enjoy the sight of the trees waving about while you listen to the marvellous song with its various repeating phrases. Beautiful!
Have a Great Week All,