Becoming A Twitcher: Part II

In which I try to get better acquainted with the neighbours, while my cat just tries to kill them…

I have spent some time this week watching the house sparrows that abound here, and have quite enjoyed it. I’m becoming fond of the little guys. On Tuesday morning there was a whole crowd of them in the garden, using our old pile of shrubbery-related waste as a source of nest materials, and having dust-baths in the gravel. I had been planning to get rid of that pile of rubbish, but have now decided to leave it there for a while. The birds seem to have been very busy finishing off their nests in the last few days, dashing back and forth between our hedge and the roof in which they roost. I even managed to get close enough to take some photos of these tiny, but quite pretty, birds:

Male collecting nest materials
I also discovered this week that we have some more feathered neighbours…I knew there were blackbirds around, because they are quite visible and vocal garden birds, but I didn’t know what else was nesting in the Leylandii that line the backs of the gardens on our street – the trees are so dense that you cannot see. Usually. However, thanks to this giant monster (he really is a very large cat!),
who goes by the name of Loki (but has been sweetly nicknamed Lucifer by the people next-door!), I got to see some of them yesterday, when he raided a dunnock nest and killed two chicks (well, we’re hoping he’d killed the first before my sister’s spaniel pup stole it and ate it! We took the second one off him while it was just about still alive, because we didn’t think the pup needed any more snacks! It died shortly afterwards). The parents hung around to protest for a very long time (they were still calling this afternoon), but have hopefully moved on now. I don’t know if it is early enough in the season for them to raise a second clutch (and of course they would have to move their nest away from our garden!). Dunnocks are very interesting little birds with very inventive love lives, but their offspring are obviously very boring, because all the internet would tell me about dunnock nests is that they often play host to cuckoo chicks. Which we don’t have around here.
I am slowly increasing my abilities in birdsong recognition, and can now add dunnocks to the repertoire, thanks to yesterday’s little escapades, as well as house sparrows.

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