Just after we moved into this house we moved a self-seeded mountain ash (rowan) that was had germinated in a pile of builder’s sand. Put it into the “shady border”. Today it is enormous: a fine tree loaded with bright orange berries, with leaves throwing themselves to the lawn below. Strange how suddenly autumn has arrived this year. The long, wet summer prolonged the green in the leaves for some weeks longer, but now we have colder day-time temperatures, the leaves are sacrificing themselves to save the trees – as they do every year of course.

But, before we have too long to enjoy the sights of the berries the thrushes are there, balancing impossibly on flexing whips of outer branches, tearing like little dinosaurs at the bunches of berries. Blackbirds queue up, two brown hens and a smaller male. The ladies get first pick (peck?); he waits while they feast. Is this usual?
Then they are joined by a song thrush. Pale chested, matt brown backed. I am reminded of a Ted Hughes poem (have to look that one up later) Then another. In their greedy rush they do not seem to realise that many berries drop to the floor. It would, surely, be worth one of them “hoovering” these up? It would certainly save energy I am thinking.
But I appreciate the sight, these large, confident garden birds taking stock, fattening themselves up for whatever the colder, darker months of the year throw at us.

A couple of days later, however I am not so impressed. There are hardly any berries left on the rowans (the other is an ornamental variety in our neighbour’s garden) and the birds have started taking the last of our blueberries.
Did I say that these birds lack intelligence?
How wrong can a man be?
17/9/2012

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