When it rains, as it did today, I hole up in my office and tackle all the outstanding letters, accounts and papers that I procrastinate about. An easy option when the sun is out, cool breezes and the garden calling for me to potter – any excuse not to stay inside. Now into our first week of June and somewhat aching from all the hard garden grafting, fence building and a whole week of intense sun, around 40 degrees, the storm broke yesterday and my sore back and hands needed a rest. I am back in front of the computer.
My view below is lovely and distracts me sometimes, to watch Mr Bull moping about in the buttercups, banging his water trough when he gets bored, missing the girls, or my little sparrow visiting. Every day he chirps and chirrups from our balcony, calling to his fellow sparrows, swooping across to the chicken pen opposite to steal seed and back again. Plump, inquisitive and very social, and sometimes a little arrogant. Our balcony is his domain. It is his spot.
We have hundreds of sparrows here. The chickens get very perturbed by the invasion on their seeds, and kick out a leg to tackle the little busy flock that ascend every morning. The sparrows are too many, too quick and know the clumsy chickens cannot be in two places at once – diversion plans made to perfection. The seed breakfast arrives daily and the owner probably doesn’t realise that his chickens have competition for the food. “My chickens are well fed!”, yes and so is my little sparrow.
Back in suburban England our love of cats has diminished the sparrow population to almost nothing. My little tortoishell Bramble made it her daily endeavour to catch sparrows or other little birds, to do the cat thing, and bat them about in her paws for hours before eating. Not a nice trait. Thousands are killed by our moggies each year. The sound of bird song is a thing of the past. Apparently on March 20th there was a World Sparrow Day.
Over 50 countries participate to tackle the decline in urban sparrows. Our little sparrow is an “Old World Sparrow”, I assume because they have been around humans for many centuries.
We also find many bird nests in some of the areas we are cutting down. The nests have been lost in amongst the brambles or weeds and we carefully prize them out and keep them for installing in the garden later. We are not sure what we will do with them, we have about eight or nine now, but they could be useful.
We found a couple of baby birds the other day. Somehow they had been thrown out of the nest and had fallen onto our workshop roof. They were only about two weeks old, with wide yellow beaks and big eyes to spot mum with worms. We wrapped them in leaves with a buttercup each and buried them by the meadow. They joined the baby mouse from last year.
I have to bury a bumblebee tomorrow. At first in a panic I thought it was our white bottomed bumble who visits every day to inspect our work. It had been very hot and the little bee must have overheated and died. He looked too small to be ours. I dutifully wrapped him in tissue and now he waits till the rain has stopped to find his resting place with the now growing cemetery.
Tony brought good news. The loud buzzing arrived in the workshop. Bumble nosed about for a minute, hovered to take in anything new, then bumbled off. Yes he was big, yes very fluffy and yes very buzzy, so he is fine. I am relieved. Silly I know, but now in the countryside I sense that every little creature has a tale, a challenge to get through the day, trials and predators. We move little glossy black beetles every day from one side of the road to the other, to avoid getting squashed by the tractor. Spiders get moved, lizards have a space to lay out in the sun and a shady spot to sleep in. Hedgehog has wandered and we have no idea where, but we take lots of care when moving log piles, and we now have two moles! My garden is lumpy bumpy and will never have a bowling green lawn. Its a busy place. Watch where you put your feet.