The vegetable garden is filled with the calls of young birds. Around the edges of the garden, the shrubs and hedgerow plants became first nesting sites and then nurseries for blackbirds, robins, tits, finches and a single pheasant, currently tucked up amongst some nettles, next to the boundary wall. The pheasant is very close to the compost bays and we often pass by, but we pretend we don’t see one another and she stays put.
The pheasant, pretending I'm not there
By now, many bird eggs have hatched, the young ones have feathers and are starting to leave their nests to explore their new worlds. Young blackbirds (Turdus merula) squawk from the undergrowth, impatient for a parent to arrive with the next meal of worms, caterpillars or grubs. Their parents will feed them away from the nest until their tail feathers have grown and they can fly properly and then they’ll be on their own. Until then, we’ll keep coming across them, glaring petulantly from their perches in low branches.
A young blackbird, three days out of the nest
As I work, the bold little robin (Erithacus rubecula) has been coming ever closer, guarding each patch of soil disturbed, dashing in to quickly pick up any worm or insect that I uncover and taking them back to the nest to feed its young ones. If there is a branch nearby, it will watch from above and sing loudly to other robins, so they aren’t tempted to trespass on its territory. If there isn’t a handy branch, I will see it standing on the ground, usually about 1.5m (5 feet) away, continually stretching up to its full height and then bobbing down again. Whether it does that out of nervousness or impatience is a mystery. Maybe it’s both.