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Miranda Hodgson

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Spring is really here and the birds are nesting

Posted by Miranda Hodgson on 09 Apr 2010 at 02:04 PM

Spring is a dream come true - a dream of warmth, new growth, and flowers. How fortunate I am that something so longed for becomes reality each year. I love this season so much and every year the anticipation of the land coming back to life is met by the intense pleasure of seeing it truly happening, first so slowly that you hardly notice and then ramping up speed until the land quivers with new life.

In the garden, the first empty egg shell was dropped onto the lawn by a pigeon. Birds do this to draw attention of predators away from the location of their nestlings and you’ll see the empty shells in many places. Look out for the pale blue shells of blackbird eggs – blackbirds are nesting now and the young will be hatching during the coming weeks. Once the young birds leave the nest, you’ll see them crouching in shrubs, tailless and petulant-looking, waiting for a parent to bring them food. Once their tails have grown, they’ll be able to fly properly and can then fend for themselves.


The old cherry has burst into flower, three weeks later than last year, so the job of sorting out the garden is now accompanied by the scent of the blossom and the buzzing of bees who come to the flowers for nectar and pollen. The first petals are now drifting down like confetti, forming a pale layer on the grass and soon small cherries will form and almost all of them will be eaten by the birds.


The poet Robert Browning liked spring too:

Home Thoughts From Abroad

Oh to be in England
Now that April's there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England - now!

And after April, when May follows,
And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows!
Hark! where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops - at the bent spray's edge -
That's the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children's dower
- Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower

Robert Browning (1812-1889)


sue1002 said:

We've been watching some magpies building their nest in the Eucalyptus tree in next door's garden.  We were first alerted when we saw a magpie with a bamboo cane in it's beak.  After watching for a while, several canes around 2 feet long were being taken from a garden over the back from us and are now up in the tree :)

on 09 Apr 2010 at 02:44 PM

pushkin said:

Always liked that Browning.  And your grass is just crying out to be walked on, sat on, lain on, enjoyed with bare feet.

on 09 Apr 2010 at 06:50 PM

richardpeeej said:

Lovely time of year Miranda. Thanks for the reminder of this great poem. I saw, for the first time this year,a bumble bee in the garden today.I took a photo but it was out of focus - I asked him (or her) would they mind keeping still but no answer!

on 09 Apr 2010 at 08:08 PM

Foxnfirefly said:

I've always enjoyed Browning's writings.  Good to recite his piece on spring now, and your pictures really say more a thousand words.  We've found empty bird eggshells lying around, too.  I thought maybe a weasel or hawk had disturbed a robin's nest. Never thought it could be a protective tactic of birds.  Enjoyed this blog!    

on 10 Apr 2010 at 03:30 AM

hyacinth said:

thanks for your lovely informative piece, Miranda. Spring is springing in my garden too. Birds nesting, the first wasp in the greenhouse this morning, bumble bees buzzing in the chimney... blossom and scents everywhere - it's done me more good than any painkillers could!

Picked lovage for this evening's meal :-D

on 10 Apr 2010 at 01:20 PM

Miranda Hodgson said:

Thanks for the comments, everyone. It seems that Browning poem is very popular!

Sue, that's interesting about the magpies making a nest out of bamboo. It sounds horribly uncomfortable, but I suppose they know what they're doing!

Foxn, you can generally tell when the eggs have not been predated because there will be a few experimental beak holes and then the shell will have been pecked open quite neatly around the middle, like in the picture of the pigeon's egg.

I'm glad to hear that everyone is managing to get outside and enjoy the spring. Makes a big difference, doesn't it.

on 12 Apr 2010 at 04:28 PM