Birding at Mother's Garden - May 2011

By Martin Kirby

The Mother's Garden bird family is together again - and more. Life abounds in lush, loud May. The chestnut-capped Woodchat Shrike has returned, and flew back and forth in front of the tractor to boldy announce "I'm here". I was cutting part of the meadow revealing all manner of foods, and within one hour I heard the call of Golden Oriole, saw the flash of yellow through the pines, and then was joined by three Hoopoes eager to explore the shortened grass for bugs. Sparrows and Goldfinches sway on the surging fennel stalks, while above the pony corral a Warbler, possibly a Melodious Warbler but yet to be identified for certain, heralds the day. In the village and above the farmhouse the Common Swifts are the last to arrive and turn the high narrow streets into race circuits. Their shrill screams and flashes of speed fill the air around the church, while on the farm the Swallows that nest in the barn sit barrel-chested on the phone wire and we listen to the Blackbirds, Chiffchaffs, Corn Buntings, Meadow Pippits. Flocks of Spotless Starlings tear back and forth, with the occasional colour of a Jay. The Green Woodpecker has been hard a work for weeks now and the Mistle Thrush that nested in one of the olive trees has successfully reared three. Other highlights have been the increasing number of Bee-eaters, with a new colony established half a mile from the farm (and our four hives), and also good sightings of Peregrines returning at dusk to the valley's limestone cliffs. A Bonelli's Eagle with snake in its talons gifted us a glorious view as it drifted by late in the afternoon and we have logged both Kestrel and Hobby, but still no sign of Golden Eagle or Goshawk. And with all this life and song come the colours of the butterflies and moths too - too many to list, but including the fennel-loving Swallowtails. The biodiversity of Mother's Garden gives us more and more. ..... Just as I was re-reading this blog a Great Tit flew into the kitchen where I am working, its beak full of dog hair. It came through from what we call the chaotic office and boot room, where Biba the dog has her armchair and where at this time of year the back door is rarely closed. That said, the Great Tit must have braved the bead curtain to enter. It sat on a window shutter and watched me for a while, then as I gently closed the shutters so it would be draw back to the light beaming in the back door (where I had taken down the bead curtain) it merely switched its perch to my computer screen and then the drying rack beside the sink. Finally it decided to leave. What a treat.


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