29JUL11 Collared Dove

It’s about time I wrote about birds.

Birds, I suppose, have always been interested in me – a fact which I first realised as a toddler at Castle Espie, when I looked over my shoulder and found a squadron of geese in a perfect line behind me. And only a few weeks ago I found myself face-to-face with a curious Sedge Warbler whose general disposition suggested that he didn’t quite know what to make of this strange being with a butterfly net attached to his hand.

So if karma is to be believed, it should only be a matter of time before I become interested in them.

Tick… tock. Cuck-oo.

Butterflies are very much my obsession. You know you’re obsessed when a butterfly’s evasion of a photo shoot precipitates wailing and gnashing of teeth. So until that wonderful day when I can finally let go of butterflies so that I can really get to love them… I have moths, and I have birds. A refreshing break from butterfly hunting. The chive dip inbetween the mouthfuls of balti.

Birds have more of a permanence than butterflies (in the case of wrens, only just), and they’re more intelligent (and in the case of dodos, only just). The encounter with the Sedge Warbler told me that. You can get to know them as individuals. The Collared Dove was described on the NI Birding website recently as “the only bird stupid enough to stay around” during the Red Arrows display. And as you can see above, he is our most loyal customer at the bird table at our caravan, which has earned him the nickname of Fatso.

And then there’s the baldy blue tit that comes for peanuts outside our front window.

And then there’s the sparrows that chase it away.

And the coal tit that comes to the seed feeder, takes a fallen sunflower seed from the flowerpot underneath to avoid the sparrows, then flies off to hide it.

And the great tits that take no nonsense from sparrows, and sit on a branch pecking at their seeds like pneumatic drills.

And the starlings that descend en masse on the garden for a worming party, hog the fat ball, terrorise the sparrows, and then take to the air at the sound of a slug sneezing.

And the feral pigeons that get racy on the rooftops.

And the woodpigeons that crash-land on the lawn and ruthlessly evict the ferals.

And the hoodies that start going kaaaw kraaa kaaa for no discernible reason.

And the rooks that smoke out their feathers on the chimneypot.

And the lesser black-backs that land on the rooves and start yelling ARRRRK YUK YUK YUK fit to scare the UDA.

And the herring gulls that do the same, but throw their heads back whicle their doing it, for dramatic effect.

And the blackheader chicks that steal crabs off their dads.

And the black guillemot couples that swim around each other in circles saying iiiiww iiiiww.

And the moorhens that box with their feet.

And the mallards that say quack and do nothing in particular.

And the willie wagtails that bounce over the Quad saying chizzick chizzick.

And the bullfinches that don’t charge, don’t bark, aren’t vicious, hide in bushes and just say peeeee.

And the birds of prey, which    s     o    a     r…



… and look down on the mayhem below and laaaaaaaugh.