"Earth’s distant orb appeared the smallest light that twinkles in the heaven; whilst round the chariot’s way innumerable systems rolled and countless spheres diffused an ever-varying glory. It was a sight of wonder: some were hornèd like the crescent moon; some shed a mild and silver beam like Hesperus o'er the western sea; some dashed athwart with trains of flame, like worlds to death and ruin driven; some shone like suns, and as the chariot passed, eclipsed all other light." From "Queen Mab" by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1813)
Saturday, 17 April 2010
A Bird In The Hand
I’ve been feeding the birds and squirrels in the garden since we moved in. It’s practically the first thing I do every morning and I feed them at intervals throughout the day. We get a lot of different types of birds coming into the garden, here’s the cast of characters:
Blackbirds (Mr Blackbird and Mrs Blackbird, plus a number of others who don’t really have names)
Dunnocks (at least four, all called Donald)
Crows (Charlie and Mrs Charlie)
Jays (Jay-Z, Jay Vydelingum [named after a news reader on Classic FM], and Squawky plus another one who also get’s called Jay-Z, Jay Vydelingum and Squawky, they share the names)
Blue Tits, Great Tits and Coal Tits (all called Tommy and Babs)
and between 6-8 Wood Pigeons (Ledgy [any Pigeon brave enough to take peanuts off the window ledge], Limpy [he has a really bad limp], Little Limpy [who also has a limp but it’s not as bad], Lieutenant Pigeon [any brave pigeon who doesn’t get scared off easily, which isn’t often as they are very flighty birds] the rest don’t really have names).
There are four squirrels that come to the garden regularly too (Short Tail [he’s got the end of his tail missing], Bouncy, Old Fella [quite a bit slower and less mobile than the others] and of course Mr Nuts, although they all share this name too).
I make no apologies for naming the garden critters, as we call them. I am a man of science and I know that anthropomorphism is not at all scientific but I’m not conducting a rigorous scientific study here, I’m having fun. So as I say, I make no apologies for it all being more Johnny Morris than David Attenborough.
Now I’ve left one critter off the list above; Robbie the Robin. We have at least two Robins in the garden regularly (Robbie and Mrs Robbie), sometimes three. For more than two years now I’ve been feeding Robbie by hand. It took a long time to get him to do it and I have to do it when there is no other food around or he won’t bother, he’ll just go to the food on the ground. Today I was lucky enough to record this event with a few photographs, as you see.
But when he does it, it’s brilliant. He doesn’t stay long, a few seconds at a time but he seems quite comfortable with it and doesn’t always just grab the food and go, occasionally he will stay, look at me, look back at the food then pick a bit up and fly away. He sometimes comes back two or three times within a couple of minutes.
I get so much pleasure from this simple and very brief exchange and although I’ve been lucky enough to have done a lot of wonderful things in my time on this planet, doing this has to be one of my very favourite things. It’s great feeling his little spiky claws on my fingers. And there’s almost no weight to him at all.
Robbie really didn’t like the camera, which I held in my other hand, and it took ages for him to finally land on my hand. He did it a few times in the end, which is just as well as I had to take almost two dozen photos till I had these few that I was happy with. There were a lot of photos of just my hand and no bird.
So there we are, a bird in the hand, as I said an obvious title but an appropriate one.
Suggested listening: “Weather Systems” by Andrew Bird