Missing the Distractions

Funny how you get used to things. Then miss ‘em when they’re not there.

Take the manic-busy pair of brood-feeding blue tits that were regular distractions from TV. Flitting in and out of a nest box on the wall just by our front bay window. This particular nest box one of many I made from odds and sods of wood, over the years and with the assistance of our daughters – so it has some sentimental, as well as wildlife value too. Both of our daughters, I like to think learned skills and patience during these “problem solving” tasks and have used them more recently in constructing jumps for an equine cross country course. Incidentally I never claimed to be any good at this; just enjoyed the whole straightening-bent-nails and re-purposing with no expectations or pre-conceived grand designs.


Yesterday, we took my mother and local-living nephew down to a “clan gathering” a couple of hours drive away in Wiltshire yesterday. Aldbourne; my sister’s house.

My mother had stayed with us overnight, needed a paramedic (long story) in the morning who advised the “distraction” of the day out might be beneficial. Ostensibly the get-together was to see this other nephew on his way to another new life in Amsterdam. Also a good excuse for a chinwag, catch up and to record a video congratulatory message for his brother (whose New York wedding we cannot afford to get to).

Are you following all of this?

My sister and her husband grow fruit and veg in their own Aldbourne gardens – slightly ahead of ours, being further south. They gratefully received allotment wine and frozen currants and plied us with bubbly and tasty roast beef. Eaten outside in glorious sunshine with a village walkabout afterwards. St Michael’s church and the laid-back, well maintained and used public space (a la Kinks Village Green Preservation Society perhaps). Past the garden compost heaps that house slow worms (and as evidence of this a squished one on the narrow road).

Image result for aldbourne

But when, eventually we got home the two aforementioned parent birds were sitting together, beaks packed with caterpillar nutrition on their normal staging post. Looking … nonplussed? Forlorn? Confused?

All of the above probably – and more, if that’s not being overly anthropomorphic. They were not on their robotic-habit flash in and out of the nest box journeys. As if there were no sounds/signals from inside the box. Had the babies actually flown the nest? Where were they now, in that case? In the escallonia hedge? In the osmanthus bush, the “corkscrew hazel”? Eaten by a cat?

Steeping outside and closer to the nest box, not a peep could  be heard. Fate had, apparently taken an interest and the world had moved on – for good or ill.

The gallant parents tilted their heads, this way, that way. Trying to locate their offspring. Flitted into the escallonia. Came out, beaks still loaded. Looked at each other, tried again. Repeating the sequence in what, in human terms appeared to be increasing desperation. But probably was not; are birds capable of such feelings/emptions? A moot point, of course.

However, having been thinking of children “flying the nest” I could not help overlay something of these thoughts on the observed behaviour. Still light at 9.30 in the evening and the birds finally were seen no more.

This morning got up to pouring rain. The two parent birds are once again tripping in and out of the nest box. Is it possible that the fledglings left the box and went back into it because of bad weather? Or is there a different explanation?

Images: http://www.drwholocations.org;


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