Recycling a swallow's nest


Who was in our garden making a noise in the dim light? Yesterday very early in the morning I heard something stumbling about outside just below the bathroom window. I looked out to see someone in a clashing fluorescent jacket parting the undergrowth at the back wall of the house. There was a man amongst our neglected bushes. It was the meter man. They are back! And after over two years someone has come to read our electricity meter.

These days the less electricity I use the more my direct debit payment goes up. I searched ‘Why is my account in credit?’ and found that the company seems to want to save for me so that I can pay my winter bills. I am not sure that I like this idea. But the meter man arriving may be a good sign.

Things do not look good for the rare spotted flycatcher though. Last week he was here inspecting his nest from last year in my climbing rose. If he can use this nest, it will save him quite a lot of building work, much of it is intact and still snuggling close to the wall. Last year he and his mate reared four young. Could they repeat that this year? I hope so but all is not well. After flying all the way from Africa, he is alone. His mate is not with him and now he has disappeared. I am wondering if he has gone to look for her to bring her back to this excellent nest site that he has just inspected. His success all depends on where his (or another) female is.

The robins and blackbirds here usually have no difficulty and built early in the conifer hedge and are now feeding young, but there is a pair of blackbirds that chose to nest on a shelf in our little cow shed. The shelf was too narrow and no matter how much hay, grass and mud she brought in, the nest always collapsed and fell.

After several attempts she looked up and saw a much better building site. It was an old swallows’ nest. We bought an artificial cup-nest to encourage the swallows to come here (without success) and the blackbird saw an opportunity. She filled the cup with dead grass and moss, without the need for mud, and here she sits on her four pale blue speckled eggs. I think this is a good case of re-cycling and reusing.

Our new recycling bin with a purple lid has not yet arrived. I have had a jolly email, to say that it is coming soon, but we are way behind the blackbird.

(Taken from my column in the Shropshire Star)


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