River Wissey Lovell Fuller

Runnin' On October

October 2003

An unusual look at the wild life within the Wissey Valley

"Runnin' on".

Our garden is having a wonderful day, fine rain is seeping into the dried out lawn, rain drops hang from leaves that have had such a hard summer. I know there are people who don't think plants have what we call "feelings", but I can see if a plant is not flourishing and that's what I reckon gardening is all about. Even though my verbal onslaughts on well rooted weeds have only the effect of making me feel better. Usually the weeds only lose a few leaves when I try to pull them from the soil and stay put until I fetch the garden fork and start to do the job properly. I feel the walk to the shed is well worth the effort when the weed loosens its grip on the soil, into the bucket it goes and I look about for more.

This morning started off as usual until we noticed the power lines to our house were packed with house martins. The majority were facing east but one latecomer was facing west, some shuffling went on to accommodate late arrivals. We started to think the journey to sunnier climes was about to start, perhaps their favourite foods were all gone. Looking at the collection of insects on the windows and in the spiders webs I decided that couldn't be the reason. The house martins were preparing the youngsters for their long flight to warmer countries while we stay here and brave the winter.

Mr T. reminded me of the hazards these birds face, how anyone can kill such a small creature just for sport is beyond my comprehension. It must be an expensive meal when you look at the expense of guns etc. I know most of us are carnivores too but some of these birds are caught in nets and may struggle for hours until they are killed. No doubt someone will put me right if house martins are not victims, but we have seen programmes where the commentator says any small birds are regarded as a delicacy.

Since the dry weather the other garden birds haven't had any worms to eat. The worms are all too far down in the soil. I had to dig down quite a way to plant an over grown pot plant a couple of weeks back and, curled as neatly as a rope on a ship deck was a worm. Apologising profusely, I sifted some moist soil over the worm and popped the plant in. So far the plant is flourishing and I hope the worm is too!

Throughout this summer we have watched a Blackbird that hadn't lost all of its early feathers. A fluffy skirt of baby feathers made the young bird unable to fly properly, we watched "Scruffy" as the adult feathers developed on his upper body. Scruffy scurried about in the garden, always going under the bushes if anything startled him. Each morning we watched out to make sure he had plenty of food. Toby the cat had obviously decided to ignore the extraordinary bird, he's more of a rodent operative actually!

As the weeks went by we decided that the still skirted "Scruffy" was collecting more food than one bird could eat, he, or she, had a family to feed. Is it possible that young fledglings help to feed later broods ? We haven't seen "Scruffy" lately so we hope he's grown adult feathers and now is one of our many Blackbirds.

Janet Tilburn Oct 2003

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