Over the summer, we removed most of our bird feeders for cleaning and to reduce the amount of spilled seed on the terrace. I know we should probably keep food out year-round, but our neighbours do a very good job of that. Now bleached and hanging on the bare branches of the fig tree, the feeders are full of niger seed, peanuts and sunflower hearts again.
It took a day or two, but our feathered friends are back, flocking in for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They are messy eaters, one and all – table manners are clearly not taught in the nest. Daphne and Dudley (below), a pair of ring-necked doves, were first to revisit us. They were quickly followed by a noisy quarrel of sparrows, no doubt retreating from the windy seafront. As the sparrows dispense seed liberally from the feeders, the inseparable couple tuck in to the spoils below. They are such gentle, soft-looking birds, unlike the brutish herring gulls that occupy our roof like ill-disguised terrorists.
Percy the Parakeet likes to be fashionably late and won’t venture down until food becomes really scarce. He’s the kind of exotic visitor we always look forward to welcoming. Today, a rarity for us, a pair of bluetits have called in, chattering, preening and feeding timidly. Despite the abundance of food, the sparrows are already defending their new-found hoard from the bluetits and each other.
Then, happy days, I spy a little red robin, sheltering from the rain amongst the tight foliage of the green olive (Phyllirea latifolia). I think this is a first for The Watch House garden. He’s sitting there now, watching me through the dining room window. Through the winter the birds will give us endless pleasure and amusement. Their quarrelling, chattering and socialising is better entertainment than Coronation Street and The Archers combined. Welcome Back!