The race is not always to the swift

 


I am waiting for my vaccination letter. My two sisters, from Yorkshire, have already been vaccinated and know the dates of their second jab. They are older than me, but I cannot help wondering when my letter will come. Separate areas, even within Shropshire, are moving at varying speeds because of different constraints.

I have heard a rumour that vaccine deliveries could be diverted, away from Yorkshire and the North East after their speedy vaccination programme, to areas which are lagging behind. The vaccine rollout is an extremely complex and intricate process. We all want equal access, of course, and it is good to know that a lot of my friends here in Shropshire have already been vaccinated.

There is certainly not equal access for the birds on our bird table. The bigger and more aggressive they are, it seems, the better chance they have of getting food. The great spotted woodpecker is the winner because when it arrives all other birds disappear. Next, there is the starling with quick movements and sharp beak. But today it is the turn of the fluffed-up collar doves. It is not that they are pushy, it is that they are big for the bird table and there is no room for others.

When I was young, collared doves were rare but now they are everywhere. They are a favourite with their gentle cooing, their unassuming grey colour and thin black collar. They stare at each other with deep red eyes and have already paired up ready for breeding.

The robins have also paired up. Look out for two on the bird table. Normally they chase each other away so, when there are two, you can be sure that they are mates. They will nest soon.

When I lived in south Shropshire the people there told me that the birds have their wedding day early next week. It is a lovely thought that the birds are already in their spring outfits ready for pairing.

I have not bought any new clothes for a whole year. There seems little point in dressing up when I do not go out. My ‘best’ clothes still languish in the wardrobe as other priorities have taken over. Mind you, I make sure that I have a smart jumper on when I have a video call and a colourful scarf works wonders.

The witch hazel is putting on a good show just now. Their yellow spidery flowers are spilling onto the twigs. You might not notice the flowers, as they are so small, but the scent is strong and sweet. I have seen bees waking early searching for food, amongst snowdrops and witch hazel, in the winter sun.

Watching the season unfold is a good distraction whilst I am waiting for my vaccine.

(Taken from my column in the Shropshire Star on Thursday)


Collar doves leave no room for others on our bird table


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