Expect the unexpected

They are here again!  The spotted flycatchers are back. They nested in our climbing rose, last year. Then at the end of August they flew off to Africa, with their four young fledglings. Somehow, after all those thousands of miles journeying, they have arrived back in our garden. How do they do it? It really remains a mystery. How do they remember where we are in Shropshire?

If the rare flycatchers are in your garden, they will be looking for a climbing plant near your house or tree. They like porches with scrambling plants like wisteria, ivy, or roses, for their nest. At first, these birds look just like ordinary brown sparrows with white spotted breasts, but their behaviour is quite unusual. They always return to their perch; they sit there, spot a fly, then off they go to snap it up mid-air and then go back to their branch. I could watch their fascinating movements all day.

But I have had jobs to do and cannot sit about all day. One of those jobs was getting a haircut. I have been away from the hairdressers for over a year. The kitchen scissors have been used to hack away at my stray locks up until now. I was nervous. I was in an enclosed space with the hairdresser up near me with and other customers chatting, not too far away.

Of course, we all wore masks and I kept mine on for the duration. Except when I came to pay. I pay with my mobile phone and it opens on face recognition – the only problem is it did not recognise my face with my mask on! I did not have any other way of paying so had to persist which all added to my feeling of alienation and agitation to get out of the salon. But the good news is that I like my haircut. I am, at last, fit to go out and be seen in the outside world.

Back to birds’ nests, a blackbird here has broken with the trend and built a nest right out where it can easily be seen by anyone. They first tried my bay tree mop-head shrub. But for some reason they chose the old cow byre.

There, under the plastic roof and just above the gutter they have crammed in a beautiful cup nest. It looks as incongruous and out of place as I felt at the hairdressers. But what will happen when it rains and the gutter floods? What will happen when the summer sun bakes the plastic roof? We are all of us going into the unknown and perhaps cannot think too far ahead. 

(Taken from my column in the Shropshire Star)

The blackbirds have chosen to nest in the guttering under a plastic roof


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