It 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.