The bird that couldn’t read and other nature stories

I was clearing a large patch of Galium aparine this morning when I noticed I had company. A very young Blackbird, Turdus merula, was picking away in the leaf litter around my feet. Blackbirds are normally skittish and one of the most common avian sounds we hear is probably the loud alarm and flight call of the Blackbird. This youngster clearly did not understand what his parents had told him. I watched him and he watched me. I stayed still for a while thinking that if I startled the bird it would fly. Then I resumed my weed pulling. The bird stayed and we worked our way in synch along the fence. Perhaps my actions disturbed the small creatures below the leaf litter and provided the bird with easy pickings.A few small tseeps was all I could get out of him. I know it was a ‘he’ because girls pay more attention in class and would have heeded the warnings. I don’t know if we will continue to meet like this, behind the compost bin. Perhaps he will get a good ticking off from Mum. Write out 100 times “I shall not get close to humans”. Or maybe he will start a brave new Blackbird world and keep me company regularly. There is plenty of room in the garden for us both.

Last night I had two Autographa gamma, Silver Y moths in the trap. Here is one:Silver YThe Silver Y is a migrant. Hot on the heels of a Rush Veneer the night before it means Summer is starting for real.  I also had a rather aberrant White Ermine, Spilosoma lubricipedaAn interesting pattern I have not seen before.

As I got up this morning i was surprised to see another deer in the garden. This one was calmly sitting in the middle of the lawn. A bigger, heftier male with fine antlers. Judging by the depression in the lawn he weighed a fair bit.RoeDeer2I suspect he noticed me and he went for a walk around the garden.Roe2I did not see him leave but later the doe arrived. She was aware of my presence quickly and leapt clean over the ‘stock fence’. We seem to be the morning breakfast bar for the deer now. I have identified 3 different individuals but I am sure there are many more.

Mid-morning and I started to tackle another section of overgrown weeds – very large clumps of docks, ferns and some others I did not recognise. I also trimmed some hazel branches back and cut down some brambles, the stems of which were over an inch thick. I saw a diurnal moth, Nemophora degeerella. This moth has very long antennae and a fluttery flight.Nemophora degeerella

Pretty enough on its own but suddenly there was a cloud of them. All around me dancing moths, jiving micro lepidoptera, up high then whirling down like a sycamore seed pod before bobbing back up, left, right, twirling around, miniature ballerinas. I watched, fascinated for 10 minutes, wondering if my friendly Blackbird was nearby, enjoying the show. Then I was called back to the house. I left but the show went on.

Animals can provide us with great companionship, love and comfort . Or they can pass through our lives as momentary players on our stage. Those we spend our time with become pillars of support, offering up unquestioning loyalty. Until they too must leave. I dedicate this post to Murphy. A fond farewell to a friend I never met.


26 thoughts on “The bird that couldn’t read and other nature stories

  1. We’ve a few who weren’t paying attention. Largely safe enough in our garden. Jolly likes to watch birds but not to chase them and the cats stay indoors. Deer in the garden is quite a treat. We have to travel for those and even then (apart from farmed herds in Chatsworth) are only ever a fleeting sight. You are my moth education and as such these posts are going to become a source of reference. Lovely post.

    • Moths are much underrated. I am building a garden moth photo collection on Flickr. Deer are charismatic and photogenic but moths have added mystery. The don’t make such a good casserole though.

  2. Do you know when the result of the vote for Britain’s National Bird is to be announced? I’ve read it will be on the 8th, but another website says it will be the 10th on Springwatch. The blackbird was high on the list. Love their song.

    • I don’t know Willo I am afraid. And we don’t yet have a TV so we can’t watch Springwatch either. I’d happily adopt the Blackbird or Song Thrush.

  3. You are a call of the wild
    A regular Grizzly Andrew
    Just don’t go completely mad and forget the human that you once where
    I know nature is calling……….Just make sure you don’t start sprouting wings
    A flying Andrew what a specimen that would be

  4. A beautiful post, Andrew. Moths can be so very lovely, can’t they? These are gems and I am marveling over those extravagant antennae!

    A good send-off for Murphy. I didn’t know…I’ll head over there now.

    • The antennae are often useful identification aids as I’m sure you know Melissa. But sometimes they are just good to look at. Poor Murphy.

  5. So interesting with the blackbird pecking at your feet. You are definitely in tune with nature. The photos of the deer are lovely. I think your garden is definitely fauna and flora friendly.

    • Yes it is Yvonne. We had a Buzzard on the ground yesterday but sadly I saw the first cat this morning. I shall discourage them as much as possible.

  6. You clearly picked exactly the right garden, Andrew! Like one of your other commenters, I’m learning amazing amounts about moths from you — who knew they were so beautiful?

  7. Thanks for the lovely post 😊 I grew up with blackbirds where they are feral in Melbourne, but there are no blackbirds where I now live (Brisbane). I miss the way they would sing – especially on summer evenings. But I don’t miss how they would mess up the mulch in the garden! I suspect that if animals could vote the world would probably be a much better place.

  8. You’ve been out of the country too long. The blackbird rule book reads: If it has two legs and steps into the garden, snuggle up real close and harass it until it turns over the soil for you.

  9. I will thank you for Murphy, Andrew. It is lovely of you to honor him with this post.
    As I look at your deer pictures, I think he would have loved to run in your new yard. Probably the deer wouldn’t appreciate it much though.

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