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And so it begins. Where it will end will largely depend on where the characters take me…

One of the great passions I have is the birds hat come to our garden. I’ve been seen sprinting out making hissing noises at cats in order to drive the things off – I don’t want the sweet purring little alien predators (because folks, that’s what they are) in my garden threatening the local birds and the migrants passing through.

Especially as we have a nice group of long tailed tits at the moment which is exciting as normally they stick to woodland. We’re missing the goldfinches but they bred successfully with us last year so I am hoping that they’ll be back in a few weeks. Certainly there are signs of nest construction with more birds suspiciously carrying sticks around, and when I had my hair cut on our decking recently the cut hair was snaffled pretty quick… I rather like the idea that my decreasing stock of hair is going into nest lining. One of the joys is watching characters among the resident birds. One year we had a field fare that was just nuts and insisted on chasing off every other bird that came into the garden away from our windfall apples. He was quite good at it too, although he spent so much time chasing that he never actually seemed to eat any of his precious resource. This year we have been amused by one of our magpie who has learned to balance on the feeder and get at the fat balls, though only by using his tail and wings to fully extent himself in quite an impressive developed technique. Unfortunately he or she is not able to balance properly at the moment as the poor thing has lost its tail feathers. We have seen this bird taunting a dog fox that sometimes comes into the garden before now and really living dangerously; I suspect he didn’t move fast enough and had to sacrifice his tail. Or maybe it was one of the cats. But I suspect it was a combination of over irritated fox and overconfident magpie. If you can’t be bothered to fly when God gave you wings you might as well expect the worse.

At least the weather is improving so as we tick the days of winter off with the proverbial pencil we can look forward to everything bursting into life and what we think of is the true sign of spring which is when the ducklings start to appear and delight us with their Brownian motion on the lake in Verulamium park, just like a bunch of six year olds high on sugar at a birthday party, and with a similar lack of any kind of direction or observation of hazards. But at the moment, the mallards are currently still engaged in the charming ritual of drowning the poor females in what must be one of the most brutal forms of mating in the animal kingdom. Try not to look, instead watch the swans in their courting dance form that lovely heart shape with their curved necks. It is less traumatic.


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