A tongue-in-cheek look at lockdown and birds, our feathered friends by the editor
As we make the first tentative steps in coming out of “lockdown” it is heartening to see that so many people are still taking the threat of COVID-19 seriously. I made my first trip to a supermarket in mid-June and what a shock to my system that was. People were almost darting out of the way to stay two metres apart and those without masks were avoided altogether. The shop was strict in its controls and it felt like a safe place to be, especially when the staff administered sharp reminders to people who, like me I’m embarrassed to say, sometimes unwittingly strayed to the more natural boundaries in the checkout queue. It was good to be out though, even if it felt almost alien-like, as if I was on another planet for a while. I hope you are all safe and well and have enjoyed your first moments of “freedom”. It’s a new way of life for us all and is something that people will take at their own pace, so let’s continue to show kindness and help each other.
In the meantime, during my “confinement” (it sounds like I’ve had a baby) I’ve become fascinated with birds! What’s going on? I thought we were supposed to feed them through the winter months and they fed themselves in spring and summer? Not at this house, we’re going through more peanuts than a certain chocolate bar factory (rhymes with sneakers)!
Then it’s supposed to be a swarm of locusts, a swarm of bees and a flock of birds. Again, not at my house. A huge swarm of around 100 birds landed in my tall, straight bamboo which curled and bowed under their collective weight. They stayed there, somewhat noisily, for a month. You can imagine what happened with the peanuts! Why weren’t they going after the insects and wriggly worms in the gardens and surrounding fields? That’s their job isn’t it? What’s more, these birds specialised in DIY and, having spied the garden furniture, decided it needed a make-over which they duly carried out. 10 out of 10 for effort, 1 out of 10 for style. More Botch and Scarper than Jackson Pollock that’s for sure.
Now I’m left with a family of five Mésange Charbonnière, doesn’t that sound much better than their English name of Great Tits – I’ll leave that one hanging, which is something these birds do very well. To be precise they hang every which way, often all together, and feed from the distributor, hammering away at their chosen peanut. This isn’t a huge distributor which means they are proving to be particularly good at spatial awareness and jigsaw puzzles. It’s a beautiful sight and, due to the need to replenish their feast every three days, the garden center loves me!
Meanwhile, I had an altercation with the patio and suffice to say that with one sprained wrist in a brace and the other broken and in plaster, I won’t be doing very much of anything, including cooking. That peanut distributor is beginning to look very attractive. The birds could have some competition!
Lockdown and birds, two words I never thought I would put together but these feathered friends really have made me appreciate more of what is around us, and brought a smile in these difficult times.
First published in the July and August 2020 issue of The Local Buzz