My son’s garden is surrounded by trees and they are full of birds of every variety. It is a joy to watch them and listen to their constant song every day, but, at this time of year, we are always on tenterhooks, waiting to see what will happen. With nests in every tree and a nest in the bird box under the eaves, we can watch the first tentative sorties of the fledglings and see them grow and mature from scruffy juveniles to their full beauty… if they survive.
Last year, Boots, the cat that had moved in with my son, seemed set on personally decimating the avian population, and almost every morning brought the tragedy of small and mangled corpses on the carpet. Boots, however, seems to have chosen to move on to pastures new and calls in only to raid the food bowl occasionally. Meanwhile, a tom-cat known locally as Frank, Tim, Nigel and probably a host of other names, has moved in and taken up reidence on my son’s lap. Frank, however, sees no reason to waste energy hunting.
Even so, we have watched the nests nervously. We’ve chased the crows away from the magpies, the magpies and cats away from the nestbox and live in hopes for all of them. Every day, I check the nestbox from a distance, hiding behind the trellis to make sure that the parent birds are still tending the nest. A few days ago, I thought all was lost when I came down to find the nestbox knocked out of place and sitting at an angle. Surely the birds would have abandoned it, especially as the same thing had happened last year, leaving the lifeless nestlings strewn across the ground. Keeping my presence minimal, I straighened the box and withdrew. I saw no activity for a couple of days and concluded the worst; the little bluetits had gone. And then, photographing the roses, I caught the blur of motion. The parent birds were in and out all mornng, evidently busy with a breakfast that merged into lunch.
You can only do so much to help and the rest is in Nature’s hands… but this time, she was kind. This morning there was a family of great-tits exploring the bird feeder. And any day now, the little balls of feathered fluff will leave the nestbox and join them. I just hope I am there with the camera when they do.