It’s no secret that I like to feed the birds, in todays society it gives me mixed feelings though. There are the obvious smiles caused by the close encounters with some of Ma Nature’s wonderful creations, but then, always present is the worry which niggles at my emotions at every level of my being. Am I doing the right thing ?
Apart from the recent argument about feeding bread to the swans. The hoo-ha about not feeding them bread because it wasn’t nutritious had the effect that some swans hadn’t stored up enough fat to fuel the long journey south for the winter, prompting the “experts” advising us to feed them bread again… Hey ho.
I also wonder how much the swans themselves remember, do they know its me when I feed them? I don’t just throw the bread to them, the seagulls are too aggressive for my liking, especially so at the moment with tourist numbers down because of the virus and the alternative pickings from their usual source of leftovers being slim, and just throwing the bread to the swans leaves them open to multiple attacks from above. I stand at the water’s edge and break the bread up into manageable pieces then offer it them by hand. The old-timers have gotten used to me, they take their bit of bread from my fingers, dip it in the water to make it wet, and reach out for another piece.
I worry that I might be luring them into a false sense of security though, one pair of swans I’ve been following each year since we moved here, nest away from the main lake. I look out for them and feed just Mama and Papa in the early summer, waiting until the babies are a lot bigger before I offer them anything. I’ve gotten used to the pecking order… Papa Swan must be fed first, and have access to the next piece of bread at all times, then, so long as he is eating, the babies are next. “Mama Swan” holds back and waits for everone else to have had their fill, so I always save a few pieces especially for her at the end.
I’ve been watching out for them this year and although I spotted the pair in their usual waters, they must have nested in a slightly less prominent location as I’ve only recently seen them on a family outing… Mama, Papa… And nine babies… Wow! How wonderful.
I spotted them a short distance away and waited at the waters edge as usual. First Papa came over to see if I’d brought him any lunch, I hadn’t, but then Mama Swan brought all nine babies over so I could say hello with my camera. She stayed for about five minutes, and then ushered them back towards safer waters.
I know of swan poaching happening in the area last year and I also know of one particular “not very nice” male of our species who “allegedly” kicked a baby Swan to death last year just for the fun of it. I would be horrified if the trust I’ve built up with Mama and Papa swan caused them to be mistreated.. Or worse.. By some of the dregs of our society.
On a lighter note, each year we have a large gathering of geese in a different part of the nature reserve. With the humans in lockdown, the animals and birds have been venturing further afield than usual, I’ve become accustomed to seeing the odd fox strolling around town in the wee hours of the morning on my commute to work, but Hubby stepped out to the wheelie bin the other evening and was entertained by a badger casually strolling along the pavement opposite our house.
While feeding the swans in a regular location I was at first surprised to see a pair of geese had joined them. After a while they followed the swans lead and accepted a few offerings from my outstretched fingers.
I spotted a few more geese testing out the same location while the people were still playing elsewhere, and was delighted to be passing while the little ones were being taken out to explore.
The seagulls are back on next door’s roof again… It looks like we’ve got two babies to watch out for this year.
There used to be a clump of grass growing in the guttering above our bedroom window, when we had the cavity wall insulation done one of the workmen cleaned out the guttering for me. He must have just pulled out the bits we could see because I can see the grass starting to grow again in the same place. Our ladders weren’t long enough, but I’ve bought an old set of tripple ladders which are short enough to store in the shed, but will extend far enough to reach the guttering. I know I’m too much of a perfectionist, but if you want a job doing well, you usually have to do it yourself, so as soon as the baby seagulls have flown the roost this year then I can get up to the guttering… And also paint the black downpipe by the back door.
Next door ‘but one’ had a builder up at their roof last week, he’s a lot braver than I am, and it’s just as well he was wearing his hard had as the adult seagulls let him know he wasn’t welcome in no uncertain terms.
I’ve purposely put up squirrel proof feeders for our little birds in the back garden, not to stop the squirrels from visiting, I would be more than happy to see the squirrels in the garden. The feeders have been chosen to keep the bigger birds away. We are visited by the little birds who nest in boxes in nextdoor’s garden, blue tits, great tits, and of course sparrows, but also a couple of wood pigeons who have worked out that the little birds drop seeds onto the steps and flowerbeds underneath. I’m more than happy for them to visit as they hoover up what has been dropped… And save me having to pull up the seeds as they grow into weeds.
Recently the pigeons have been joined by a pair of blackbirds, and I’ve even spotted a Robin and a magpie once or twice.
With the humans on lockdown to beat the virus, Ma Nature and her Creations have been enjoying a holiday. As well as the recently spotted pedestrian badger in our street, there have been deer seen in gardens in suburbia, and sheep grazing on grass verges in town centres.
I only work one really early shift a week at the moment so just manage to catch the sun rising on that one morning. I very often see the leftover party people from the night before as I’m on my commute … Some are often a little worse for wear, but some also just sit on the sands waiting for the sun to come up. On one of these quiet mornings though, while the party people are still away, there was quite a different group enjoying the sunrise.
More from before: Semi-retirement by the seaside in “Weymouth“