Well Readers, I have long resisted the allure of a peanut feeder, but during the lockdown I’ve spent so much time looking at the birds that I thought they deserved a change of diet, so here it is. I have hung it on the other side of the garden from most of the feeders, where there’s plenty of cover for the tiny birds, and indeed a blue tit was on this one before I’d even closed the kitchen door. Let’s see how it does.
The pace of life is certainly picking up in the garden, and some old favourites are back. The chaffinches are doing their mothy fluttering thing around the seed feeders (sunflower hearts, nothing but the best for my visitors).
There are charms of goldfinches popping in and out: they’ve been around all year but their numbers have probably been swollen by birds nipping down from Scandinavia. There is an esoteric way of telling the difference between UK and mainland European goldfinches that I shall have to investigate, and I will share with you when I’ve worked it out. Not that it matters, I’m just delighted to see them!
And of course there are the starlings, who seem almost as excited as they were earlier in the year.
They really are handsome birds, especially at this time of year when they’ve finished their moult but the winter hasn’t beaten up their feathers yet. What spiky birds they are, all jabbing beaks and flapping wings. And yet, the beauty of their murmurations always makes my heart sing. Here is something beautiful from Mary Oliver, just to help us through the long, dark evenings.
by Mary Oliver
Chunky and noisy,
but with stars in their black feathers,
they spring from the telephone wire
they are acrobats
in the freezing wind.
And now, in the theater of air,
they swing over buildings,
dipping and rising;
they float like one stippled star
becomes for a moment fragmented,
then closes again;
and you watch
and you try
but you simply can’t imagine
how they do it
with no articulated instruction, no pause,
only the silent confirmation
that they are this notable thing,
this wheel of many parts, that can rise and spin
over and over again,
full of gorgeous life.
Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,
even in the leafless winter,
even in the ashy city.
I am thinking now
of grief, and of getting past it;
I feel my boots
trying to leave the ground,
I feel my heart
pumping hard. I want
to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.
From: Owls and Other Fantasies: Poems and Essays
Copyright ©: Mary Oliver