Beaky Visitors


At breakfast time I turn my back on husband noshing meusli at the kitchen table whilst reading the news on his tablet. I prefer to perch on a stool at the breakfast bar and look out of the window, watching visiting birds in the garden while I tuck in to my porridge.

There’s usually a lot of avian activity in the morning, so the chances of seeing something interesting are high – a pair of long-tailed tits might make a brief fly pass en route to the nest I think they’ve built nearby. Dunnocks (dull-looking little brown jobs of birds, but stalwart and faithful residents) might be about either singing from a branch or seeking food lower down near the ground.

Henry and Henrietta, the wood pigeons, could be about with one of the younger members of their family. They fly up on to the bird feeder, their weight making it wobble a bit when they land. They’ll snaffle any food I’ve put out on the feeding tray – greedy guts that they are – then fly off suddenly making the whole thing wobble again so that water from the separate water tray gets spilled and sloshed about.

Sometimes a magpie might drop in if there’s food about, and try to usurp the pigeons at the feeding tray. If that happens, they all fly off as there’s not enough room for them all. An odd jackdaw or two might try the same trick as well.

Smaller birds come too – blue tits, great tits, coal tits, nipping up to the feeders, taking a beakful of seeds and then beating it to the cover of nearby shrubs and trees. Our resident robins – a pair – are quite bold and, as robins usually do, they’re less scared around humans. With head on one side they will take in all around them – with an eye on food – using their beady black eyes.

An elusive flash of deep rosy pink is always a treat to see. A male bullfinch, with its rich pinky-red breast and black head will lurk in the leaves, then make a move on to the feeder, but at the slightest distraction, sound or movement it will be off. A tiny dark darting shape lower down in the foliage and plants will be a wren, not seen too often, but definitely in the neighbourhood.

The goldfinches, pictured here, spent some time eating the niger seeds in the feeder. These are adults but I’ve seen younger ones who look slightly more dowdy as their colourful plumage is still coming through. One day the whole family was there, trying to get at the seeds – they took it in turns to feed one or two at a time.

I have to wonder who gets off to the best start in the morning; is it husband reading the news, or me watching the birds?

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