Sorry for the gap between posts- I am up to my eyeballs at the mo and I doubt it will get any quieter over the next few weeks.
You may or may not remember that when we moved here eight years ago there were no Sparrows. It's a subject I've waffled on about here before because House Sparrow populations have been seriously declining during the last fifty years and they are now a species of concern. Anyhoo, there were none here when we arrived. A year or two later a solitary male turned up one morning and hung around, and the following Spring his faith (and mine) was rewarded when my friend Mrs Sparrow flew down onto the hedge and decided to marry him.
They set up home inside our house, excavating a hole in the wall beneath the eaves and building a nest inside the cavity, and there they raised a couple of broods. All the kids buggered off in due course but Mr and Mrs S remained, and the following year they repeated the exercise and had two more broods. All of these chicks disappeared too (they survived, they just didn't hang about).
I despaired of ever getting a colony.
The third year some of the chicks from the previous batch did reappear and took care of that year's fledglings from the first batch. I thought it was interesting behaviour and not something I had witnessed before, but perhaps this is normal for Sparrows who are gregarious little birds and generally live in big flocks.
Long story short: two or three broods were hatched this year (Sparrows are clever soles and reduce the number of eggs per batch if food is scarce so the babies have a better chance of surviving) and when the last lot fledged off they all went into the fields as per and I thought, well at least they are hatching them, even if the colony doesn't appear to be staying together, but then a month ago they reappeared and remained in and around the garden, and this time I counted 19.
They sit in the hedge and make a right old racket and they eat all the bird seed, but this is a good thing really because it's a healthy colony and as I said Sparrows have disappeared from a great many of their previous haunts.
So I've been quietly celebrating this ecological and habitat success story but even I (ever optimistic) wasn't fully prepared for what would happen next.
I glanced out of the kitchen window Monday late afternoon and the garden was covered in Sparrows. There were at least 50, I kid you not. Where had they all come from? Rather typically, as soon as I reached for the camera the large group took off and they didn't resettle on the ground in quite those numbers, but hopefully the following will give you some impression what it was like....
The other garden visitors were a little bit miffed by this invasion to say the least, and the Collar Doves (usually the most mild mannered of people) stood their ground determinedly when it came to picking up the seeds from the floor :o)
The GSWs are back, as are the Nuthatches, which is a God Send to me, because I am missing all the inverts who've either died off or tucked themselves up for winter. And of course Nate, the baby grass snake, has also gone to sleep somewhere and is no where to be found, so the reappearance of all the birds in the garden does my heart good....
Today, we are back to the normal 19 in Sparrow-Terms. I have no idea where all the others are, but at least it looks like the colony is a stable one and perhaps Sparrow Terrace will finally get some inhabitants next year...
Hope all are well?