A starling taking a bath in the pond at EldenhurstIt is 7 a.m. and I was woken about two hours ago by a raucous cacophony – umpteen parent starlings sitting in the oak tree outside my bedroom, calling out to their fledgelings. We have quite a sizeable colony around here – presumably they like the accommodating construction of the eves of Edwardian houses or something.

Some youngsters came out yesterday, many more today. As I write there is a gang of clumsy little birds, gazing myopically, legs bent so that the seem to be crouching, massed around my pond.

It seems the young starlings are instantly drawn to the water, but edge around the pond not knowing quite why they are fascinated, and then jump-fly at the surface, crash landing on the raft of weed in the middle, and instantly splash and drink. One can only assume that for the last week or so in the crowded nest, they became increasingly infested with mites or fleas, and that the water-splashing instinct is fairly necessary.

The broods may be large because many of us around here feed our garden birds. I often give my ground-feeders porridge oats moistened with vegetable oil (it stops the oats from blowing around, and the birds seem to like it).

The robin brood fed extensively by their parents on this mixture (and that I mentioned in an earlier blog) survived and turned out to consist of a couple of pretty little plumpsters and no, they weren’t wearing kilts as I feared. One of the parents fed them in various locations around the garden for the next 10 days or so, and I still see them around.

The kamekaze chaffinch has stopped head-banging on my conservatory window, but I hear him boasting a lot nearby: ‘I’m-so-clever-I’m-so-clever-I’ve-got-an-INTER-view’. Yes, really, he has – but exactly what the job is is a mystery.


3 thoughts on “Starlets

  1. James – My desk is placed so that I look over my laptop straight out of French doors across a terrace at my pond – a few feet away – and beyond. The past fortnight has been mesmerising – the cast of the continuous avian drama includes first one, then another duo of robin babies, fed by incredibly hard-working parents, one of them with only one eye (who come and sit on my desk when the door is open and demand more oats). An agressive slightly balding blackbird is feeding two fat brown offspring and repeatedly ‘takes on’ all other wistful, hungry-looking members of its own species as well the innumerable squawking starlings that decend on the garden every few hours. The blackbird even strafed a rather lost-looking baby bluetit this morning – yesterday a small gang of them fledged from a nest box on my oak tree, and were given flying lessons from their parents all day in the adjacent birch tree. Today’s excitement so far consists of a gang of young greenfinches wandering around on the ground under my yew tree, studiously trying to work out if they can eat the composted bark ‘floor’, between vigorous bathing bouts on the raft of weed in the pond. And all the while a lone dunnock hops around the terrace hoovering up microscopic somethingorother. As you imply, much time is being wasted, I must get on…soon…

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