At L’Arche Kent we cannot let a year go by without some of us joining in the BBC and RSPB’s* annual Big Bird Watch – spending an hour at the Glebe,§ watching to see how many species and how many individuals call in to our feeding stations.
Nothing exotic here! The parakeets have not arrived yet, there must be plenty of pickings in the Thanet seaside towns to encourage them to say.
But we saw seven sparrows at once and a pair of moorhens: as you see, we are at the riverside. We were quite surprised not to spot any wood pigeons, but when our photographer went to speak to someone at the other end of the garden he saw that they had been there all the time, behind the shed and out of sight. The rats were there all the time too, but then it was the first day of the Year of the Rat.
As ever, the afternoon ended with a shared meal, in thanks for a shared afternoon enjoying creation.
*BBC – British Broadcasting Corporation, the radio and tv people; RSPB – Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
§ Glebe: a plot of land for the priest to grow food on: a church allotment.
Every year the wood pigeons nest in the tall birch in next door’s garden, while there are two old collared doves’ nests in our apricot tree.
Usually the pigeons stick together, perched in the same tree, even upon the same branch, but this month one of them has been resting in one of the lime (tillia) trees we planted after the hurricane, which are now big enough to take a collared doves’ nest at least. The two birds were within sight of each other.
Which tree would the wood pigeons choose? Were they utterly estranged, or perhaps strangers to each other; I had no way of telling. But this morning both were in the birch tree. An early sign of Spring?
Life has been too busy to harvest these container grown spuds until today, in time for Hallowe’en supper, baked in the oven with either ratatouille or pumpkin soup. But the rather fussy grandson will have to be told they are ‘jacket potatoes’, not ‘baked’.
There was a badly abused tree in my daughter’s garden; there was no chance of its growing straight or shapely ever again, so out it had to come. I was uncovering the roots so that I could slice and saw and twist and shake until it all came tumbling down.
Before that happened, I unearthed a fat worm about 15 cm long. It lay as if dead then began to move in a most unwormish way. It was a slow worm, my favourite British reptile, one of this year’s brood. I hope it managed to find shelter, as it must be near hibernation time.
My phone had drained its battery, so here’s a photo from salted m8 on Wikipedia.
With all that’s been going on, this story was forgotten till Mme Frog jogged my memory. One evening last week, my daughter went down to empty the kitchen bin onto the compost heap.
Something scurried across her feet. ‘Oh no! a rat!’ she thought, but it didn’t run across the garden like that. And it had spikes: a hedgehog! Our neighbour, who cut a hedgehog hole in his new fence, will be mighty pleased. So was Mrs T, who would like to see an end to slimy slugs in her garden.
Unfortunately Mrs Tiggywinkle did not stop around for a photo-call.
Last year, for reasons that now escape me, I took my beloved Brompton bike for a ride around Rye, across the border into Sussex, as a reflective part of my birthday celebration. I passed to the north of a field of sunflowers, which, being sun-worshippers, all had their backs to me.
This time, my seventieth year from heaven completed, we celebrated beneath these sunflowers at the L’Arche garden in Canterbury. This time, we were to the south of the blooms, and received the blessing of their faces, reflecting their master as they smiled upon us.