I think I mentioned our bird tree before?
This is an apple tree which is in full view for Herself through her window when she’s ensconced in her room. It’s not really an apple tree as it hasn’t produced a single apple in donkey’s years.
The tree was somewhat damaged during the Beech tree felling process, when half a Beech landed on it, so it looks a bit weird now, with half of it missing. It is ideal however for hanging a bird feeder on. Herself likes watching them feed, as do I. Isn’t it marvellous that as we grow older how the simplest things provide amusement? I used to enjoy sending tourists up to the bogs where they would get lost, and now I’m reduced to watching birds?
Anyhows the Jackdaws discovered my feeder and wrecked it. Bastards.
A couple of weeks ago I bought two new feeders and hung them on the bird tree. There’s a small one with an outer cage to guard it and a big one with very narrow feeding slits to deter any bird with a large beak. I filled them up with seeds and sat back to wait.
Not a single dickey-bird.
The days passed and the feeders hung there without a single customer.
Then one day last week I was idly looking out the window thinking sad thoughts of Grandsons when there was a sudden burst of activity in the garden. About twenty sparrows arrived, all at once from nowhere and descended on the feeders. It’s the first time I have seen a sparrow here and now suddenly the bird tree is full of them.
They went into a feeding frenzy which was great fun to watch. They would queue up on the branches and shove each other off to get better placings, a bit like a queue in the Post Office. If they got impatient [which was all the time] they’d attack the birds on the feeders so there were constant battles and a hell of a racket. Soon other makes and models of birds arrived and swelled the ranks and I had to refill the feeders. The frenzy continued unabated.
Then I noticed one bird. He wasn’t like the others and was a lot bigger for a start. He had striking plumage but the one remarkable feature was that he was perched on a vertical branch and not the usual preference of a horizontal one. He completely ignored all the mayhem surrounding him. As I watched, he took a few tentative pecks at this branch and immediately I knew what he was – a woodpecker!
I have only seen one once before and that was in France, in the distance. I had never seen nor heard one in Ireland. I checked on line and sure enough he was a Great Spotted Woodpecker. I watched him for a while as he tried a few other branches and then I went to grab a camera but when I got back he was gone.
This was something remarkable. They are very rare in Ireland and have only started arriving in the last ten years or so. We were honoured.
I haven’t seen him since. And strangely, we haven’t been visited by the sparrows either. The feeders are out there virtually untouched with only the occasional visitor.
That one day at the bird tree was somewhat surreal.