Courtesy of Winter: I am between Birding tours. Wrapped-up in our little box set, a community house, in a rust belt town called Beith (“The Birches”) ten miles southwest from Glasgow International airport at 55N in Scotland.
It is frosty, damned cold. Has been so most days since at least late January, when I got home from South India. And the yarden, so bleak. Yet it attracts far more birds than one might think at first glance. Remember, we must, that less than a year ago (in June when we moved in) this squareplot, that is ours yet not ours, was covered with cement, plastic and reconstituted wooden decking, all manner of man made debris, space age junk, crap from the cyber drones.
But nowadays the Blackbirds come first, at and even before dawn, a time of second hand daylight when the Robins are already singing. Soon if both we, and she, are lucky the single Dunnock flits down from our nearest tree, twenty metres south – a neighbour’s Cypress leylandii. Whatever the weather, we discover, it is well light before the real patrols begin.
The first to arrive are members of an ex-Soviet Starling squadron, across the North Sea, from the iced-up east of Europe. They are quickly followed by the Rooks and Jackdaws, the stalwarts of our own community workforce. A few Carrion Crows watch from the surrounding chimney stacks, alert as hell, with stealth embedded in their hearts. They are too shiny and bright, with very long collective memories, too sharp to ever trust the unsubconscious terrestrial human kind. Magpies are about too, yet strangely they are far more active in summer. The reason: they too do not trust us. So they prefer to visit the gardens very early, before six, when the screen-heads are still and slumbering.
After the first morning fly-past of the Corvidaceous, the “slum weavers” or House Sparrows descend. Our local flock has now climbed to at least 23 birds – males preponderate (is it unseen hormone pollution at large ‘out there’ in the environment?).
If we are lucky, especially when it is hard and frosty, a Reed Bunting or two and a few Pied Wagtails come down as well to the yard to pick up tiny items of food, choice morsels that the other birds miss. The Reed Buntings in particular delight us as they flirt their tails whilst of course the Wagtails wag an accompaniment.
Two Turkentaube (Collared Dove in German) delicately feed on the cement patio-place, the spot where I suppose a shed should be. Everyone else seems to have one, I guess it’s for overspill from the main two storey box.
I can’t help wondering, you know, how these supposedly peaceful doves, just can’t help wondering how their relatives are doing over there in Syria. Can you?
Anyway off to feed (again) so I wish you good birding, everyone, wherever on Earth you hang your bins! And if you don’t have a pair yet – do let me know!