Violence and Maternal Love in North London

Dear Readers, once I’d finished work yesterday I decided to sit quietly in the garden and enjoy the serenity. Hah! Fat chance. For no sooner had I sat down than I realised that no less than three woodpigeons were eyeing up the suet pellets on the bird table. There was plenty for all of them but, sadly, these are not birds that like to share.

First there was the inevitable eyeball to eyeball confrontation between two of the birds, while the third watched and waited. Each bird stands up on its tippy-toes and tries to look as large as possible.

Neither bird dares to put his/her head down to actually feed, because the other one will undoubtedly give a ferocious peck.

Then they begin to flick one another with their wings. This gives a surprisingly loud report, like someone cracking a small and inadequate whip.

And then, if neither bird backs down, the whole thing escalates. Both birds fly into the air, flicking and kicking and pecking and generally being antisocial. I have no doubt that the lack of food from restaurants and takeaways and garbage means that these birds are genuinely hungry, poor things.

In the end, it seemed to me that each of the three birds had a bit of time on the bird table, so they all had something to eat, but what a palaver! Later, one flew onto the bird bath, and when another woodpigeon arrived the first one gave it such a clap around the ear with its wings that it echoed around the garden. They seem to me a bit like those Regency gents who used to slap one another around the face with their gloves. Just as well the woodpigeons don’t have pistols, that’s all I can say.

But after all the flying of feathers, calm was restored. Remember me mentioning that I thought one of the squirrels who visits the garden had babies hidden away somewhere? Well, I was right, and I managed to get a few photos of the well-grown youngsters as they explored the world under the watchful eye of their mother. One of them fell out of the whitebeam, and another one appeared to be trying to eat leaves.

The mother was very watchful, as well she might be: these little ones have no idea of the hazards that they’ll face.

Mum and baby


The mother has done a very good job with these kits though – they both look in excellent condition, no doubt having been fed on milk that is powered by all those sunflower seeds from the bird feeders.

So, I don’t know about you but I have found sitting in the garden and just watching is as good as any television programme. I am starting to know the different individual animals, to recognise their calls and to be drawn in emotionally to their life stories. Already I am worrying about that swooping magpie and what will happen when the baby starlings emerge, and I am wondering where the hell the foxes have gone over this past few weeks. But what an antidote it all is to the news and the misery that is piped into our homes every minute of the day. Outside of our little human lives, life goes on as usual, and the world is all the better for us not being so visible.


4 thoughts on “Violence and Maternal Love in North London

  1. Anne

    I have enjoyed every moment of your garden documentary! I find solace in my garden too and am constantly surprised how much there is to see when we start paying attention to our surroundings.

    1. Bug Woman

      It’s like my own personal soap opera, Anne! I was so disappointed yesterday when it poured with rain all day, but the garden certainly needed it.


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