I take it absurdly personally when we get new and different birds visiting our garden.
Recently we've had a woodpecker on the bird tree quite regularly, which I take as a compliment specifically for me. I hoped to get a pic., but he scarpers as soon as you get near the window. He is very dashing with his lovely scarlet pudding-basin hairstyle. I'm very happy to see him, though I wish he was less jumpy.
I was also very happy to see a wren in the garden yesterday. I used to see one quite often, but its been a year or two, so i'd feared they had abandoned me. Wrens are the smallest native British bird, shyly brown and sweetly round, with alert little tails, I love them and they are all called Jenny. Including the boy-wrens.
We also now have a regular troupe of goldfinches visiting. This is since a friend told me that niger seed is almost guaranteed to attract them to your garden. And it worked after a couple of months. They treat it very much as an all-you-can-eat-all-day buffet, they always come in pairs or larger groups - sometimes they fight a bit over the seed, always they are bright and lovely.
We also have starlings in the garden - they seem to have more specific meal times, which is a good thing as they are very rude, loud and ill-mannered, frequently chasing away smaller birds. Their feathers have a beautiful blue-green-oil-sheen.
There are usually sparrows about, which is only as it should be, of course. And tits sometimes. And pigeons loitering under the tree to catch fallen seed. Sometimes the pigeons try to take seed from the feeders mid-flight whilst flapping and falling about in a most ungainly and quite entertaining way. Pigeons (especially the wood pigeons) are just so unfeasibly un-aerodynamic looking at the best of times. Just how do they get off the ground?
Despite the range and number of neighbourhood cats who seem to consider our garden to be their territory (I saw a tom cat spraying on my asters the other day. bloody nerve) - we don't often seem to have unfortunate fur 'n feather incidents. Though every now and then there is a scatter of pigeon feathers on the lawn.
LG has been conducting a fairly sustained campaign for us to get another cat. I blame my good friend P, whose Bengal cat has 8 almost unbearably adorable kittens. There are eight of them (EIGHT) with names I can't remember entirely - but which include Pagic, Magic, Peep, Popsicle and Mousekin (named by P's 4 year-old who also named her doll "Maggot") - and once we get back from our holiday we will be going round there again to waste time at the altar of kitten adulation. They are so small and soft and sweet with such exquisite little faces.
So of course I had to show you the little lovelies - which range from a beautiful grey-tabby, like their mother, slightly gingery tabby, through all grey with white fringed-ears, to black with orange splotches and all-black - at 3 and a bit weeks old.
I read at the weekend about Oscar the Rhode island cat. If you haven't read/heard about him, see Kimy's post here. The Guardian described him as "a tabby harbinger of doom".
But I thought it was a lovely and moving story. I don't think the kinship a lot of humans feel with animals is as one-sided as some people would like to suggest and also, that the fact we find this story remarkable or surprising says something about the significance often given to animals and our relationships with them. Would the Guardian have used this phrase if Oscar was a human being? There are other cultures around the world where Oscar's role would be seen as quite natural and unsurprising.
How different are we really from (other) animals? Mary Midgley talks about how its often assumed that there is an impenetrable and self-evident barrier separating us from other animals. But she suggests that maybe, actually, its more like a chain-link fence. From certain perspectives - eg. from the top, looking down - it might appear fairly solid, and a city broker in suit and tie with laptop might seem clearly very different from other species. But a chain-link fence is mainly holes - which is particularly obvious at eye-level, down on the ground. And of course children are nearest to the ground, and tend to see the holes more than the wire. And in this particular chain-link fence, the holes are big enough for children, at least - and the young of all sorts of species - to pop backwards and forwards to play.
The Oscar story also reinforces my belief that there are forms of knowledge and communication and relationship which have little or nothing to do with the "rational objectivity" which (at least western) societies have made such a song and dance about.
There are animals which know some things we cannot know, for all our progress and cleverness - and some of those are the most important things.
So, in fact - and i've just thought of this! - maybe Jenny Wren came back because she knew I would find her presence consoling.
Right, lecture over.
I am off later today - to my brother & SIL's party: 2 x 50ths and a 25th wedding anniversary. Blimus.
And on Sunday, tomorrow, off to France. We will be in the Dordogne for 2 weeks, in a little village called Soucirac. i don't promise to think of you all and/or miss you (sorry, nothing personal...) but I will be taking some pictures and will look forward to sharing some of it with you when we get back.
oh, nearly forgot. No fur or feathers, but this is my last froglet sighting, just before I went off to Perpignan about 3 weeks ago. Hopping in and out of the pool, so hopefully they can find their way home when they need to. They are fully froglike now, but when I took these pics were still only about 1 inch 2cm+ long.
Toodle-oo lovely blog people, see you again soon.
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