Today has been my longest day gardening yet – and even if I do say so myself I’ve done a LOT. I started at 8am and finished just after 3 when I finally stopped for lunch. The weather has been changeable – but (despite dire weather predictions) it’s been a pretty nice day to put in some hard graft. The sun has been appearing on and off all day with only a little bit of rain to spoil things occasionally.
When I started doing this three weeks ago everything was aching all the time and I really felt the burn in the evenings – however now the work involved is becoming pretty routine. My arms and shoulders are definitely getting used to sustained gardening (seven flipping hours of it no less!) which they’ve never really had to before.
Visually however this had been a less than spectacular day and the garden doesn’t look massively different from yesterday when I stand back to see where I am. Most of the hard work has been chopping up what I’ve already cut away (this took a gruelling four hours) or removing buried rubbish and ivy.
About two years ago in high wind the ancient fence collapsed by my shed (it was also helped by the neighbour who decided to push it over and put a new one in its place without asking) and since I wasn’t really mobile enough to clear it up I just left the remnants next to the new fence to go rotten.
Although it wasn’t really how I planned it this has made its removal a lot easier for the most part – as it pretty much falls to bits when you push it into bags. Although the area by the fence is not completely finished I think I’ve made a good start.
With the branches from yesterday and the bits of rotten wood and ivy that were knotted together I’ve not only managed to pack solid to the brim my green recycling bin (which was emptied this morning and immediately re-filled for the third time) but taken another 6 bags to the tip, bringing the total to 62.
However – regardless of what I’ve been doing – throughout I’ve only had one thing on my mind.
The blackbird nest.
It was abandoned when I came out this morning. Overnight high wind had pushed the branch that I’d laid over it as cover last week onto it’s side. It looked like it had forced the female blackbird away from her eggs and she was no-where to be seen.
I hurriedly removed the obstruction and checked the eggs.
They seemed intact.
I started work by the shed – wanting to stay as far away as I could.
I was initially worried that maybe a predator had killed the female bird overnight. It had been awful weather. Had the exposure affected her? If she was on the ground had a cat or fox got her? I stopped what I was doing and looked around under the bush where the nest was.
There was no sign of a struggle. There were no feathers on the lawn.
And then almost an hour later I heard her usual song. She was on the roof, taking a bath in the guttering!
However she seemed to have absolutely no interest in returning to the nest and when she’d finished her ablutions was instead spending her time preening herself and sitting in the sunshine nearby.
The male blackbird stopped by their nest in the meantime, had a quick look in and immediately flew off again. From that point onwards he was absent for the rest of the day.
I tried not to think about it. Maybe she would return to the nest…
I Googled how long eggs can be left after an incubation period has started. Not long it seems. If she didn’t come back soon there would be little hope.
In the meantime there were lots of other spirited residents in the garden to take my mind off the matter. I noticed that going in and out of my roof is another little family of house sparrows.
These little guys are amazingly quick and nimble when they fly about and I’m glad they seem to like where they live as I read that they’ve declined in the UK by 70% (almost as fast it seems as a Conservative majority in parliament) since I was a child. Back then they seemed to be everywhere.
The one in the picture below with the black bib is the male – and his mate is a light brown colour. She’s been close by to him all day – and paying close attention to what he’s doing as he collects materials for what seems to be a nest in the eaves of my roof.
He’s been particularly interested in stripping the dead ivy on my back wall, and pulled several little straw strips off before retreating to his home.
Between the two little sparrows the garden felt like it was a hive of activity. They were continually fluttering around and performing tight turns and fidgety changes of direction in mid air.
When they weren’t doing that they were singing and taking dust baths.
My movement of rubbish has also produced a number of frog sightings today – and there was quite a variety to see. Today there were three distinctly different sizes and colours. My particular favourite is the little yellow one climbing the wall. Shortly after the photo he nearly hopped over my head to make his getaway.
Admittedly I’m not sure what variety these are (I could just look them up I guess) but I think they’re all really pretty – although I know one of my close friends in particular doesn’t share my opinion.
For that reason alone I apologise for the following gratuitously close up frog shots.
After taking these photos I headed off to the tip to drop off the refuse I’d created before the tip closed for the day. When I came back I immediately looked at the nest again.
The eggs were now punctured. From the outside.
There were no signs of life.
So – it looks like on this occasion my intervention and maybe bad weather too have put paid to this little clutch of potential blackbirds. It seems that they were never meant to be.
This genuinely made me sad – but I guess like the swanlings who disappear so quickly this is just life. Nature is cruel – and the blackbird (who was still sitting in the sun nearby) was just getting on with things.
She seemed healthy and I can only hope that her mate is off somewhere constructing a new nest for her to populate.
Fingers crossed internet.
Maybe – just maybe – there will be little baby sparrows instead…