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Miranda Hodgson

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Young robins and a quiet wasps' nest - summer is ending

Posted by Miranda Hodgson on 05 Aug 2010 at 01:12 PM

The robins (Erithacus rubecula) have starting singing again and I heard the first sweet song a few nights ago, though I could not pinpoint the singer, as it was hidden in a cherry tree. Robins sing all year round but, like other birds, they go quiet during the summer moult because they can’t fly as well and sensibly don’t want to draw a lot of attention to themselves. For some reason, wrens keep singing. At least they do round here. It’s good to hear them again. I’ve missed the song of my favourite birds and it’s very cheering to see young robins in the garden, too, watching as we turn the soil and flitting down to pick up insects, grubs and worms.

We were joined the other day by a juvenile, which still had some camouflaging speckled feathers and it was quite as bold as an adult. I first noticed it looking at us from a nearby Pyracantha and it then edged a little closer, onto the roof of a nesting box and finally came to stand at the edge of the area that we were digging over, occasionally stretching its body upwards to show its remarkably skinny legs. I’ve never understood how robins can get by with such thin legs - they don’t look thick enough to support the body. Anyway, this one paid close attention and was rewarded several times for its vigilance, though I didn’t identify what was picked up, except for a worm.





Back at the vegetable garden and the wasps’ nest in the shed is still going. There has been another change; this time, the nest was very quiet and I could hear almost no buzzing inside it, though one or two wasps went in and out of the hole under the roof. This matches up with more wasps coming in through the kitchen window and reminds me of last year, when they were attracted to the green tomato chutney I was making. It was too hot to shut the windows, so I put a fan in the window, blowing outwards, and every time they tried to get in after that, they got blown straight back out again.

So, we have young robins showing adult plumage, a quiet wasps’ nest and wasps in the kitchen. That means summer must be coming to an end, though it seems like it has barely begun. I don’t know where this year has gone! 


Pictures of moulting robins and other birds


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on 05 Aug 2010 at 02:53 PM

richardpeeej said:

Lovely write up Miranda the weather has turned a bit cooler but hopefully we still have some hot weather to come. We had two wasps in our kitchen today so they were soon chased back out with a rolled up newspaper!...the little blighters ;-)

on 05 Aug 2010 at 04:56 PM

johnhodgson said:

Those tiny thin legs are not just supports.   What makes them even more remarkable is that each one contains not only skin and bone, but also arteries, veins, nerves and tendons to make the feet work.   But then so do the legs of a gnat!   Truly wonderful!

on 05 Aug 2010 at 05:43 PM

pushkin said:

Indeed, I shall look at those skinny legs with even greater respect now.  Lovely entry Miranda, your photographs are so good.  You are a magnet for robins, I remember you writing about others in other places who followed you around.

Fearful heat here and it's only August.

on 05 Aug 2010 at 08:42 PM

Miranda Hodgson said:

Richard - hope the wasps don't get a taste for all those cakes your wife has been making!

John - yes, it is indeed truly wonderful. Nature never fails to astonish and entertain, does it.

Thanks, pushkin! Yes, a robin nearly always turn up within a few minutes - it's a great pleasure to have them nearby.

on 06 Aug 2010 at 09:30 AM

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