There has been a dispute

There has been a dispute here that I would not have predicted. My husband and I have been living in isolation together for almost three months, so a disagreement would be understandable. But it’s not between us two – it’s between two birds.

The endangered spotted flycatcher is nesting here in our climbing rose. All has gone well until now. They have built the scrappy nest and she is sitting on the eggs and being fed by the male. So far so good. But now the peace has been shattered.

A pair of goldfinches has decided to nest in the same climbing rose. It should be alright – it is a tall rose and there is plenty of room. The goldfinches are about a metre above the flycatchers, which is just about right regarding social distancing (for small birds anyway). But the flycatchers are not happy. They want the rose for themselves and see the goldfinches as a threat.

They fight all day long. The goldfinches have tried going in from the side, from the top, then landing on our roof slates and creeping down. But the male flycatcher, who is on guard every minute, does not like the situation. He spots them every time and goes off to have it out with them.

Now, this might be funny except that it will threaten the success of his nest. If he keeps on fighting, he will tire and not be able to get enough food for his mate. She will have to come off the eggs to feed and when the young hatch their chances of survival will be diminished. If only they could work together, all would be well.

We have had to work with our plumber in a way that has not been done before. These days you can have a workman in your house if it is an emergency. Our washer broke down and there was a leak. Is that an emergency? I ordered a new washer on-line, then I deliberated. Eventually, we decided that it was an emergency. I set about planning for this ‘big’ event which, normally, I would hardly notice. We retreated upstairs, the plumber had gloves and a mask as he replaced the washer and leaky pipe in the utility room. All windows were left open for a day and all surfaces and handles were cleaned with alcohol wipe. This is our ‘new normal’.

You may have heard that the RSPB is urging us to ‘give our mowers a rest’ and let our lawns grow into wild meadows. We have done this for three months. The result is a covering of wildflowers which never had a chance before. The ox-eye daisies have also grown in abundance on our woodland edge forming a jungle haven for insects and birds, it is a welcome change for us.

Another change is that this week, alongside baked beans, I have added face masks to my supermarket order. Who could have predicted that this would also be our new normal?

(Taken from my column in the Shropshire Star)

Wild flowers thriving in our lawn and woodland edge with the new none mow regime


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