Bird Song

Bird Song The “shed” at the end of our garden is a sectional, double-doored garage, with electricity, lights and power points. If I were more of a craftsman it could be more of a workshop but it holds and hides a multitude of sins and jobs-in-waiting  and one is edge of the space at the bottom of the garden, over the lawns, past the Beauty of Bath apple tree and overshadowed by next-doors spreading laburnum tree. This eight foot wall bordered space has become the dell where we sit around the fire pit, when conditions allow. There is a well-scrounged and well stocked log-pile against the wall and when the sun is going down little more than the hum of distant traffic and the occasional passing of a railway train (which always sounds much closer than it can actually be somehow) disturbs the therapeutic tranquillity. Toads have been known to creep by in that toad-waddle fashion and hedgehogs often snuffle by and from the bedroom, late at night I have seen a fox patrol across this out-of-the way area.

But this evening I was assaulted by one of the loudest sounds from one of our smallest creatures: the wren. There are, of course a few straggling bushes in the area, struggling for light beneath the small-leaved lime: a forsythia, a small purple leaved acer and a stray spirea. The bird was somewhere behind me as I relaxed, doing a little early evening reading, but its movements rattled the dry twigs and its song was almost metallic. I am used to the calls of some birds, alarm calls usually, the tut-tut, tchouk-chuck sounds of the blackbirds, the comforting but driving-to-distraction coo – coo of the collared doves, the ashy throated cra-aar-rrk of the intelligent jackdaws (almost always present, but not always visible) and the laughable, excitable heckle and haggle of magpie parliaments (so perfectly named). But this sound (certainly not a tune) was indecipherable, contained all of the aggressive certainty and power of undisputed possession and the fierce challenges of a sentry, first from one piece of cover, then another, similar but not repeated.

Perhaps the wren was reacting to the fire? To my presence? Maybe a new kid on the block, seeking to establish a territory?

To my complete surprise the bird came closer, closer, closer until it was eventually and unbelievably sitting on the arm of the metal framed chair with me, a hand’s span from my elbow … and very close to the crackling flames! Seriously, had it just come for a closer look? It body-bobbed; its tiny immaculately feathered head jerking around, tail like a signal post, upright, level, upright level again. The wings can move so quickly. I could feel the tiny disturbances of the air caused by the movement. There are spiders in this part of the garden, webs dusty and collecting as much sunlight as midges, Perhaps the bird was hunting?

Unalarmed it zipped onto the log-pile (disturbed when I took some fuel off for the fire, skipped a few steps, then zoomed, a small brown dart-arrow into the laurel by the greenhouse. Leaving me pleased and surprised by this approach, confidence and audacity.


N.B Fox image from; wren image from

6th September, 2012


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