The baby chick
I have not seen the spotted flycatchers since and my pink
climbing rose seems positively uninteresting now that they have gone. Their
nest is hidden deep in there but is now still and silent. I wonder what happens
next. Do they set off for Africa immediately or do they just head off for our
south coast, then wait and feed, before starting their long journey in a few weeks’
In any case, I have another bird to watch. It is not rare
and not truly wild but has served as a distraction for me. It is a red-legged partridge.
Normally, I would not like it in the garden but this one has a little chick in
tow. She would originally have had at least ten young, but they are all gone
and there is only this one left. Its body is about the size of an acorn with bits
of hair sticking out instead of feathers. It is a little whisper of a thing
rolling and blowing along, shadowing around its mother.
There is no sign of the male partridge which is strange
because the female is very unusual in that she makes two nests and lays eggs in
both. The male sits on one nest whilst the female incubates the eggs in the other,
so cleverly, doubling their chances. But that is in theory because there is
only this one tiny chick left in our garden.
Yesterday, we heard such a cacophony of noise from the
garden birds when a sparrow hawk darted in. Afterwards the partridge was alone
near the hedge with no sign of little ‘Whisper’. The mother carried on
regardless picking amongst the leaves for seeds. However, a few minutes later
the tiny shadow was there again alongside his mother. Perhaps he is too small
for the sparrowhawk to bother with or perhaps, unlike his brothers and sisters,
he was quick off the mark and dashed into the undergrowth in time. He is lucky.
And I have been lucky too, I have seen where all the
foxgloves are – they are in abundance at Stiperstones. I saw masses of them,
like daggers, perhaps thrown down by one of the fabled giants of the area. They
are growing there in unhindered profusion. Mary Webb’s steeples, foxglove bells
with ‘lolling tongues’, but they are silent as the bumble bees fumble for
nectar into their bells and down their speckled ‘throats’.
(Taken from my column in the Shropshire Star)