I had hoped to take a picture of our new garden residents (blue tits) every day and post it to my blog, but as simple as it sounded, things seemed to get in the way. During the incubation phase, there were few changes in the photographs. Mother bird sitting on eggs, day after day. But she got used to me looking in and quickly taking a photo. Then finally one day, after about 12 days of sitting I heard the tiny peep peep calls of very small chicks. I waited until the parents were off gathering food and carefully opened the box to see the small naked vulnerable chicks. I managed to quickly grab a picture before the dutiful folks returned.
After this photo we were off on a small holiday to visit family in Jutland and returned to find big strong chicks, which will (fingers crossed) soon be leaving us and flying out into the big world. I can’t believe how much they have grown and developed in such a short time. They are noisy too, when ever mum and dad come to feed them, they can be clearly heard throughout our small apartment. Summer is a wonderful time!
Nature appeals to me, attracts my attention, directs my thoughts. There are few living things in this world that can evoke a negative thoughts. I am filled with a sense of wonder in the presence of tiny ants and towering old trees. Despite this, there is one animal that I come close to often that causes me some internal conflict – our neighbours cat Oliver.
Cats although they have been domesticated for many centuries, have retained the ability to hunt (some may argue this is a bad thing). They have strong flexible bodies, sharp teeth and claws and and very good hearing. Despite the fact that we have spoiled them, kept them warm indoors and provided them with some very easy meals, they haven’t lost the natural ability to hunt and catch prey.
I have been a dog person from a very young age. There were always dogs at home, it was an easy choice. I didn’t get close to many cats – due to the dogs! But now, for the first time, there is a cat in my life, when he decides to call by. Anyone who knows me, or follows my posts will know I am a bird lover. Sometimes I also resemble a bird, with my feather-brained behaviour, but that’s beside the point! Anything that tweets, has my interest – even if it is 5am and I need to sleep! When we moved into our new place, it came with a small garden and we decided to try to bring the birds a little closer. We have hung some feeders and a nest box, which to our delight has some residents. I say delight, but it does bring mixed feelings at times, especially when the cat is nearby.
Cats in the UK have been estimated to catch 275 million prey items each year, 20% of the prey caught are birds (The Mammal Society – see paper here). That’s 50 million birds killed by cats in the UK alone every year. This is staggering, but read on. The most common birds caught by cats are house sparrows , blue tits, starlings and black birds but theses species are not declining in number. According to the RSPB (see page here), although cats catch a large number of birds (among other things) there is no scientific evidence to show that they are threatening bird species. This puts my mind at rest, a little.
Nature is wonderful but I worry sometimes. Where do we fit in, how can we help or avoid causing harm? It’s a big question.
I have been a little reluctant to blog about our garden residents over the last few weeks. After the first nest box crisis all seemed to be progressing as it should inside the nest box. The chicks were growing big and strong and feathers were starting to push their way out. I happily sat without music in the house listening to the regular bursts of tweets as the parents came to feed them. I was even trying to arrange a date to ring the fluffy little critters.
Then one morning, after a night in Carole’s place (with her birds!) we arrived home and all was a little too quiet in the garden. I parked my bike close to the box and all was silent. I knew something was wrong, any noise in the garden usually evokes a bubble of bird squeaks. Carefully I opened the box and my heart sank for the second (and final) time. All the chicks were lying motionless in the nest. It appears that something had made it’s way into the box, through the small entrance hole and partially ate the chicks. It’s not a pleasant thought, but nature has it’s own way of balancing things out. I was disappointed, but after the first crisis, I realised I had placed a lot of hope on the chicks, and maybe it wasn’t healthy. I am a sensitive soul, which can be a flaw at times.
All is not lost though. Life continues in the garden in other ways. With the small patch of ground we have, we are experimenting with growing a few types of food. We have sowed the seeds indoors in small containers and once they start to grow we plant them outdoors. At the moment we have potatoes (of course!) peas, radishes, tomatoes, carrots, lettuce and strawberries in the making. It’s not all plain sailing for the veggies either. Our pea plants have been mysteriously attached, and we suspect it’s this large feathered friend.
When we moved in we decided to leave some of the garden to grow wild (the lazy and environmental friendly option!). We have a mini herb garden, which is ruled by some form of mint but a chive plant still holds a small amount of territory! The chives are in flower at the moment and I am fascinated by the colour and structure of the beautiful flower.
To our surprise, two days after removing the old nest and dead chicks from the nest box, two blue tits (blåmejse) moved in. Nest building was swift and egg laying started immediately. I suspect there to be about 9 eggs today, but the female is sitting tights when I take my morning peak (and photo) so I can’t be sure. Lets hope this nest is more successful. The daily photos of the nest will be posted on this page.