“Spring is Sprung
The grass is Riz
I wonder where dem boidies iz…”
Well Spring is definitely Sprung; the grass is needing a weekly mow and I am delighted to say I know where a lot of dem boidies is, as we have seen plenty in the garden or on our morning walks with The Lab.
As we continue to expand our knowledge of birdsong we now recognise the Blackcap which has apparently been described as the Northern Nightingale. Hopefully that does not mean that it sings in a strange accent, has suffered high levels of unemployment and has recently deserted its normal electoral preferences by voting for the Brexit Party. But it does have a song that is indeed mellifluous although I feel it has a bit of a Scandinavian hurdy gurdy lilt to it. More of an IKEA nightingale, I reckon.
But nothing wrong with that.
Identifying birds will always remind me of The Old Man who was a self-styled (and self-educated) expert on the subject. I will never match his knowledge and I felt his absence the other day when I saw a Wheatear, which I have not seen for years. My first instinct is still to think of telling TOM about what – for me – is a rare sighting. I would have loved to have shared the news with him. We also saw a yellowhammer (bonus points to Mrs B for his one) which is another bird we do not see often and this evokes memories of childhood as I recall my mother teaching me its call of “a little bit of bread and no cheese”, although perhaps these days the Yellowhammer is more likely to be singing “a little non-smart phone and no 4G”.
Elsewhere we have had some significant, albeit brief, visits to the garden – first from a Greater Spotted woodpecker which gorged itself on the peanuts, and then a Sparrowhawk that picked off a small songbird and made off with its prey amid a chorus of angry tweets. A Jay was another unwelcome visitor that left after a full-on assault from an angry blackbird.
A none-native passer-by appeared the other day when I was drawn outside by what sounded like a rusty wheel being scraped over corrugated iron. One of the Guinea Fowl from The Manor down the road was sitting on the fence making a racket. Fortunately, not being a Corbynite Fowl, it came down off the fence. For the pollsters amongst you, it decided to Leave: much to the disdain of our Labrador.
There have been rumblings about how few swallows there are this year and at the Old Place they are still noticeable by their absence. I did see one on the wire down the road and have seen house martins around, but swallows are in short supply which is a little worrying. One migrant we did hear the other morning was a cuckoo, which I have not heard in these parts for some years. Mrs B and I had a slight disagreement as I tend to talk about cuckoos with the definitive article: I always hear THE cuckoo, not A cuckoo. It is the only bird that I can think of which is spoken of in such terms.
Mrs B was not convinced – and she is normally the more definitive one.
Apart from the birds, the bees have also been busy around here. None have taken advantage of my Bee Brick yet though some might have to as we came across the remains of a bumble bees nest strewn across the road from what I assume was a badger assault. As we always say: “You can’t stop a badger”.
I was less keen to allow a bigger interloper to make its home in the garden when I found a seriously large hornet humming around the shed. I jarred up the Big Mother for identification purposes as Mrs B told me we needed to check if it was one of those nasty Asian Hornets which are potentially a danger to our own native bees. We I-D’ed it as a European Hornet – so I guess it will be gone by 31st October, along with the free movement of labour and last shred of respect for Britain as a land of fairness and good sense.