The willow saplings in our small semi-urban yard, a few minutes after the warblers departed

An Acredula Experience in Beith

After a week away, four rivers south*, in the lands of my youth, I returned yesterday afternoon to the ‘valley of beef’ in North Ayrshire.

This morning, as is nowadays more than typical in ‘summer’, dawned completely puddle wet and dribbly. Gentle grey rain from a sky of the softest lead. Abundant summer moisture, channeled by the jet stream from the great Atlantic cool pool, that’s growing year by year, starting just to the south of Greenland. The wet fell steadily onto all life here. Into our new world Scotland.

I had fed the ‘food bank birds’ before 07 30 (they had had nothing from our house for over a week) a big pan mix of skirly; in this instance cheapest porridge oats folded into rancid butter with a little piece of melted lard. This I scattered, once outside, together with the contents of a small red tub of Haith’s premium wild bird seed.

Fearful of Whiskas and other cuddle cats, who infest this and every neighbourhood in Scotland, it took ten minutes for all of the food to be eaten. Fifty-odd starlings who had been patrolling this quadrant of the scheme, together with two dozen jackdaws were first on the scene. Five collared doves, three rock pigeons and a chirruping busy-ness of at least twenty house sparrows finished off the last of the food.

After a short time watching from the kitchen sink, I went back upstairs to better survey our little patch of home-made-Wilding. By now the noisy feeder birds had all moved on. However in that very moment I was delighted to see two Willow warblers, a new bird for Yard-Eden*, flitting into the tallest willow sapling in the middle of our square back yard.

These two tiny birds gave me great joy, as Phylloscs almost always do. Brown ones these two, yet both juveniles, one ahead of the other they came tailwagging toward me. One flew into the bay willow (Salix pentandra), our privacy screen that grows at the sitting room window, immediately below the bedroom. There, so very close, I watched the sleek little bird gorge, for a minute or so, on some of the blue grey aphids that cram the budding outer sprigs of many of our willows. Soon it returned to the biggest willow, where surprisingly the other bird briefly appeared to beg toward it. Then both flew off, south …. to Africa.

* The four rivers are the Ayr, the Eden, the Duddon and the Leven.

Three years ago – no surprises, no willow warblers

*We moved into this house and barren yard in June 2017.


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