The fledgling I took for a thrush in an earlier post is in fact a blackbird. Should have known. I come across him in odd places most days. One hot afternoon curiosity enticed him through open doors into our living room where to avoid me he deployed newly developed power of flight to take off and settle on a crossbeam. Ended up coaxing him off that perch with a pole before rounding up and shushing the little creature back out. My study gives a clear view on to the wooden deck and when I looked up yesterday was delighted to see him, even bigger and bolder, in transitional plumage. Tail and lower wing feathers are now wholly black while the upper torso remains newbie mottled brown. Furthermore he has a younger smaller sibling, even more trusting and cute, who dashes in and out of the garden undergrowth and would I’m sure feed from my hand if offered. A further sighting in the copse today reveals the older bird has a sibling of the same size and gender. All of which means I have wrongly assumed there was only the one older fledgling about the place! Back in the railway hut, a glance upwards to their nest in the basket reveals head and beak of another chick as well as the hen bird. This means that at least 3 and possibly all 4 eggs in this blackbird clutch have hatched successfully.
Today the pied wagtail chicks fledged from their nest in the bucket under the eaves of the railway hut. Having temporarily evacuated their zinc walled abode they are currently on flying and feeding practice. I catch sight of two downy youngsters in the stiff cool breeze; one making uncertain progress on slate roof, the other camouflaged by grades of gravel. Dapper wind blown studies, in subtle shades of velvety grey, slim yet sturdy and bob-a-long confident. One of the parents appear, hovering above me, insect catch in beak and chirping anxious/aggressive warnings so I retreat indoors and let them get on with it.
The swallow pair I wrote about previously still seem without a nest to build. Having shown interest in moving into the railway hut they are now back at the remnant swallow nest in a corner of the porch. Great excitement yesterday morning when a posse of house martins showed up to explore the space immediately above them under the bedroom eaves. They were rapidly seen off by the swallows, to the sound of much twittering.
A word of thanks to moles. More than glad you’ve been keeping to the field and out of the garden and am very grateful for the quality topsoil you throw up on your subterranean progress. Such fine tilth. With access to other growing matter curtailed during lockdown where better to wheel the barrow than to your distinctive mounds? They’ve filled the decorative wooden sheep feed troughs to bed in lettuce, spinach and chard as well as refilling display tubs and baskets planted up with colourful annual flowers. Kim has rigged old pallets with chicken wire for peas to climb up while the runner beans have canes wired in to chestnut fencing to clamber up. Our surfeit of lettuces are doing well housed in old boxwood fruit crates. What a difference our new greenhouse has made to the vegetable production line.
In other news…I plant the last of the orange colour willow whips, cut from from our Devon imports and rooted to leaf in water this spring, at strategic places in the vicinity and will watch to see if any of them take. A look under an old fence post lying in grass in the field reveals what I discover to be a juvenile male palmate newt. Struck by the distinctive orangey yellow stripe running down its long back & tail. The little creature stayed prone, quite beautiful in its simple glory. Will this youngster be heading up to our pond, some fifty yards away, or will it see out the summer here? on average they live for a decade so plenty of time to grow and breed.