Sitting in my kitchen working from home today, I can hear incessant birdcalls. So I thought I’d upload some of the images of birds that I’ve taken in the last couple of years at Spring Cottage. They’re not great pictures or very exciting or unusual birds, but as I keep saying – this is principally a record for me and my family and, if anyone else likes it too, then so much the better.
When my parents-in-law first moved to the countryside, I was surprised to see the interest with which they watched the birds in their garden. I couldn’t have found anything less fascinating – I just thought, “Birds, so what?”. Now, I can see my children, who are in their early twenties, thinking the very same thing about me, as I get excited by the birds that nest in the garden or feed on the seed I put out.
When I was a very little girl, I was given a bird book, so I must have had an interest in birds (although I also had a great uncle who gave me Ladybird books for Christmas until I was at university, so this doesn’t necessarily follow). I coloured in some of the pages with red felt pen and traced a lot of the images of birds over and over again. I wrote my name inside the front cover alongside little pencil hearts. It’s been well-loved and is now falling to pieces with a very broken spine but, despite having other bird books with lovely photographs, it is still this book that lives permanently in the kitchen and that I go back to when I want to identify a bird. Its drawings are clear and the birds are well described, which is more than you can say for a lot of modern books, although I do really rate the RSPB Bird Identifier website.
And while I’m thinking about my childhood, what bird epitomises a city child’s experience of birdlife better the sparrow? Sadly, these days you rarely see what used to be an everyday little bird, although bright green parakeets are now a common sight across London, frightening away the indigenous species with their loud cries. They annoy me in their huge flocks screeching across the skies, but I do enjoy them in my neighbour’s cherry tree, balancing on one leg while they hold a cherry in the claws of the other foot and take bites. This seems so comical.
The picture above is a bit of a cheat as I’ve had to enhance it slightly, as it was taken through my kitchen window and looked a bit murky.
My favourite bird though, in town and in the country, remains the robin – for its faithfulness and friendliness. There always seems to be one around and they’re quite happy for me to take endless photographs of them, while they sing their hugely under-appreciated and beautifully varied songs.
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