And They’re Here…

Dear Readers, it’s a little later than usual but the starlings are starting to fledge, and as usual there are frantic parents all over the bird table, and youngsters who, when all the other birds fly off, stay put and look around as if they don’t understand what all the kerfuffle is about, which indeed they don’t. Today it was the magnificent black cat, Bear, who lives across the road, and who often makes an attempt to catch the birds, though he usually doesn’t manage it. It’s a sad fact that the dense undergrowth that makes the garden so attractive to birds also provides multiple hiding places for felines, but then there are lots of pairs of eyes on the watch, so most birds escape most of the time.

I adore cats, but there are clearly too many of them around these parts, and they take a terrible toll of our wildlife. Keeping them in at dawn and dusk would help a bit, as would wearing a collar with a bell, though some cats learn to move very stealthily even when they have one (and of course cats can get strangled if the collar isn’t quick release). My cat is an indoor cat through choice, largely because she’s terrified of all the other cats that move through the garden, but going forward I think I would only have indoor cats, in an attempt to take at least one predator out of the equation. Of course, some cats are also daft old things that don’t take birds or other small mammals, like my Mum’s cat Snuggles who would doze on the lawn with small birds hopping within paws-length and never a feather ruffled, so you can’t tar all cats with the same brush. Nonetheless, many of them do what they instinctively need to do, and it’s yet another threat to our beleaguered birds and small mammals, to go alongside intensive farming, avian flu, urbanisation etc etc.

Still, here are the starlings raining down on the bird table. Note the poor sparrow bullied out of the way early on.

And then these two turned up.

Historically feral pigeons haven’t visited the bird table, but just lately these two have taken ownership, although the starlings can still be a match for them en masse.

The big brown pigeon is quite something, and I can’t work out whether he has a full crop or is in some way unwell – he was certainly feeding well, and flying normally, but he does look a bit odd. Still, I suppose that I only put food on the bird table occasionally now, so we’ll see what happens over the next few weeks. And I am also keeping an eye on the magpies, who still seem to be around their nest in the whitebeam, though I’ve seen no sign of offspring yet. It will be interesting to see what happens as more starlings fledge and attract all manner of predators (including corvids and sparrowhawks) to the garden.

8 thoughts on “And They’re Here…

  1. Shannon (aka as Bonnie Ronan)

    We have so many starlings! They are a bit of a nuisance in the US, but they are very pretty. I recently caught video of a flock descending on my bird baths…what a racket and the very picture of constant movement. It should be called a busyness of starlings.

    In completely unrelated news, I am in London, visiting from Seattle, and when we found Camden Market deeply disappointing, I convinced my teen to continue on to Highgate for a walk in Queen’s Wood and Highgate Wood, and then the bus to East Finchley cemetery, which I would have never known about if not for your blog! We both enjoyed it immensely.

    I was interested to see chestnuts with pink and yellow blooms that look positively tropical. We only have boring old horse chestnuts at home.

    We noted that many of the standing grave markers were removed and laid down on the grave plot. A Brit friend informed me that there had been instances of children playing on graves and pulling the markers down on themselves, and so cemeteries took them down as a precaution and unless the family of the deceased could pay for the markers to be put up more securely, down they would stay. Seems a shame. I did see one angel who really looked like she was comfortably napping, but most looked stiff and affronted at the indignity.

    1. Bug Woman Post author

      How exciting! Camden is very disappointing, a real tourist trap and a bit sketchy too…so glad you enjoyed the cemetery! I’m not sure about the ‘sleeping’ angels – I’ve seen quite a few that had fallen over but were then put back, and on very old graves too where clearly no one survived to take care of them, so it seems a bit hit and miss. I haven’t been over for ages (exam revision, ugh) but I will visit again soon…I hope you enjoy the rest of your visit! How long are you here for?

      1. sllgatsby

        We’ve been in London since Thursday and in Britain since May 1st. We spent the day in Greenwich Park and on our way home tomorrow.

        We visited friends in East Worthing, spent 4 nights in Winchester, a flying 2-night visit to Bath mostly so I could go to Persephone, then 6 nights in Ludlow, before London.

  2. Sharon

    After a year away, the young starlings are back at our mealworm feeder.
    We had thirteen or so regulars in the first year (2021) which made such a racket that one morning a sparrow hawk dropped in to breakfast on one. The survivors were quieter afterwards, for a while.
    Last year they had obviously warned their young to avoid our garden as none turned up.
    This year the ‘grandchildren’ are back, in a hungry mob. My husband fills the feeder with mealworms daily. Today he was barely 2′ away before the hungry hoard descended and emptied the feeder within 30 minutes. We only fill it once per day, they have to learn to forage for themselves (or head for other bird feeders!) They’re a bit quieter than the 2021 mob, but we wait to see whether they attract any further attention.
    BTW – in 2021 a large bag of dried mealworms (I put out water as well) was £12. This year it is £15 – 25% inflation over two years!

    1. Bug Woman Post author

      I know! The price of everything has shot through the roof. But starlings certainly have an endless appetite for mealworms, they can literally eat you out of house and home if you let them. So glad the ‘grandchildren’ are visiting again!


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