A lonely sea gull on the wall at the local river
This duck is excising its wings
Even the rooster has to join in
A lonely sea gull on the wall at the local river
This duck is excising its wings
Even the rooster has to join in
Featuring the pigeon population of Solothurn in Switzerland.
Pigeons seems to be everywhere in the world, so I dedicate this little article to them. Every time I wheel into town in my chair they gather on the wall bordering the River Aare. In Spring it is particularly interesting, as it is the time when boy is looking for girl. The males puff up their colourful chests and strut around amongst the ladies making a throaty sound, as if to say “I am willing”.
This one seems to have found a partner, completed his duty and was getting ready to leave. I wonder if he stays around to meet his kids or leaves the mate to it?
Portrait of a chicken
Almost a swan
Portrait of a Goose
A Family Outing
It is Thursday, the day when it is all done. I finshed this morning with quickly cleaning my back windows, just three double windows, but when you are Super Woman you just whip through the whole thing with some cleaning liquid, a window wiper and a nice white cotton cloth (remants of used underwear torn up) leaving a trail of shiny glass reflecting the cleanliness of the complete home. Yes, the final touches, beginning with Monday cleaning doors, Tuesday cleaning the bathroom and kitchen (Mr. Swiss) and Wednesday the shower. No big deal, all in the routine of the lady from planet
Krypton Earth. And so I sit down and have nothing to clean until next week on Monday, but with a inside feeling of triumph. The sun is shining, and the birds are signing, so let’s go into the garden. The snow has now gone, it is warmer, but birds do not clean. They are happy birds, because they are regularly fed by me and Mr. Swiss.
Of course they eat it all, but seeds have a shell and they do not eat the shell. Birds do not clean, why should they. Their main duty in life is to eat, fly, eat, lay eggs and then collect food for the offspring. It all revolves around the same thing, if we find food we have done it. In summer it is no problem, there is always an unsuspecting worm, bug or fruit hanging on a tree. In Winter they are poor little things, it is cold, food is scarce and so I do what I can to feed them. My next door neighbour also has a food table for the birds in her garden, there are many scattered in our area, we are suddenly bird lovers and mothers in Winter.
“Look Chirpy she has filled the bird house again.”
“Great beaky, I just lover those sunflower seeds.”
“Yes, they are the best: difficult to remove the outside, but afterwards one big delicacy.”
And so they munch through the provisions, dropping the parts they cannot eat and leave the remainders where they fall. At the same time birds are quite reproductive in the recycling methods. I would say for every two beakfulls, their little tummies cannot take more and so they have to make room by removing the ballast. They do not have toilets, why should they, they are birds not mammels and after all it is all in the name of fertiliser. Just drop it where you are and so they move on, leaving the remains for me to clear away.
Eventually it will rain, and the left over seeds which are also scattered below their feeding places, begin to germinate and I spend many happy hours removing growing sunflowers and other strange green plants looking very much like wheat or barley, or perhaps just unidentifiable stalks.
Luckily I have a gardner that removes most of the ballast and when April arrives the bird feeding stations are gone and so are the remainders of the food until the end of the year, in November when it all begins again.
Why bother? Of course I do, cannot have hungry thin birds in the garden. I am proud to say I have the fattest, fittest, livliest birds in my garden. They even fall off the branches of the rees now and again because of their overweight and loss of balance.
Yes they made it despite the fact that they were already sprouting leaves in December. I planted the anemones in October last year in a new flower bed I had constructed, thinking what a good show that would be. When the leaves were growing wildly in January I was sure that the flowers would be killed by frost before they had a chance, but no: spring is arriving and so have my anemones.
There is also a mauve anemone, or is it violet, in any case it is a different colour. I have the promise of some red ones as well but they are still buds.
And, of course, the crocus which I also freshly planted last Autumn, they all made it. I am now awaiting the arrival of the grape hyacinth flowers, but they have decided to make the grand finale and are keeping us all under suspense.
It certainly brightens things up when the flowers arrive, although my birds are now a little disappointed as Mr. Swiss removed the bird feeder at the week-end. He found it was time that they searched for their own food. This afternoon he was bird watching, turned to me and said
“Am I imagining it, or are our sparrows overweight. They seem to have such large bodies, quite round.”
I think it was when one flew over and his wings cast a shadow over our complete garden and our cat ran for safety, that he got a bit nervous.
Mowey, our automatic lawn mower, was 10 minutes late today on his schedule, but Mr. Swiss was sure there must have been a power cut somewhere. Mowey completed the job, but only in 20 minutes instead of the 30 minutes. We will have to keep an eye on him to make sure he is not sleeping on the job.
Actually Mr. Swiss has left me this evening for a meeting in connection with investments to be made where we are living. It seems the house front will be painted, but there are people with more money than brains that would like new windows and new blinds, and there is talk of a makeover on the entrance to the garage. There will be a discussion and all being well Mr. Swiss will return home after 2 hours if they meet an agreement. If they do not reach an agreement, there might be arguments, perhaps a fight, and even a headline in the newspaper. Of course not, we are civilised people and not competing for the president of some great nation over the pond.
You get to plan a dinner party for 4-8 of your favorite writers/artists/musicians/other notable figures, whether dead or alive. Who do you seat next to whom in order to inspire the most fun evening?
I don’t think so. Another daily prompt that you really cannot serve up again, the food gets cold, stale, and everyone falls asleep listening to the same conversations, so I decided to deck the table for some others. They didn’t all arrive at once, but eventually they all arrived and there were a lot more than just 4-8.
First of all I had to buy the food, in all varieties. Something to hang on the tree and something to fill the birdhouse. Of course, not all the guests like to hang on the tree and peck at the seed pods, they like to visit the house. The guests are also very sensitive to being watched. If you put one foot wrong they leave the dining table and sit in a tree, but they return when you have moved away: being shy is one of their characteristics. Who do I mean, why the birds of course.
Temperatures are falling, through the night below 0°, reaching -5°. This morning there was a layer of frost on the grass. It is no longer easy for the birds to find something beneath the icy layers and so it is time to lay the table and send invites. Actually they are not so fussy about receiving official invitations, the seeds have arrived, and so the birds arrive.
They have their conversations, like “move over, that was my sunflower seed”, or “did you see that finch, she is grabbing it all”. It is the sparrows that seem to be taking over with the organisation, but they do outnumber the rest. Now there is silence, the birds are sitting on the apple tree branches, a tit is pecking at a hanging net packed with seeds surrounded by a fat layer, but there is one single bird. She always waits until the others have gone, she likes to eat alone, and not in the bird house. No, she is something special, our robin that visits every year. She approaches carefully and waits patiently apart from the others. Now she can pounce and take her meal, one seed after the other, it is now her territory.
Of course, the blackbirds also arrive, but bird houses are not their thing. They prefer to sit, or rather wander below, pecking their food from the ground. That is one of the reasons why I have three laid tables with food: hanging from the tree, in their private banqueting hall in the house, and on the ground. Blackbirds prefer oat flakes and peanuts, although they can be rather partial to the odd sunflower seed in between.
I noticed that I always have well fed birds in my area, but up to now none have fallen from the branch whilst attempting to fly away due to overweight, although Mr. Swiss has often told me I feed them too much. Invitations are sent from various neighbours and we all have a bird canteen in our gardens. Who needs to invited prominent people, they never really went hungry, their life was full of invitations for exclusive meals. My birds do not ask, they just wait patiently.
“Hello Mrs. Human, we are back again.”
“Yes, same time every year.”
6:00AM: the best hour of the day, or too close to your 3:00AM bedtime?
Someone must have said “look at that wonderful sunrise”. Living with two felines, a son that rises only towards midday when he is at home, and Mr. Swiss who always was an early bird, I assume it was Mr. Swiss thinking of my opportunity to at last take a prize worthy photo.
Sunrises are not my thing. I have a wonderful collection of sunsets from all over the world: England, Switzerland and perhaps Portugal and New York. Sunsets are sensible. They arrive at a sensible time and stay until you have found the camera and tuned to the various settings. Sun rises are for vampires to warn them to disappear to their sleeping places down in the cellar or the vaults and snuggle up in their coffins, closing the lid to keep the offending daylight away. You see, even vampires sleep better when it is dark.
6.00 a.m.? Oh, I know that is when the birds are singing outside my window telling me what a wonderful day it will be. There must be at least 10-20 different birds as they are all singing a different song, a real carcophony. There is the bird with the high pitched whistle that is convinced he has a talent for the birdsong talent competition. He practices every morning. That is the one where I would most of all like to throw something at to remind him that there is another species that prefers to spend the early morning hours in silence. Then there is the bird with the monotonous chirp, chirp, chirp where I dig deeper into the sheets and covers and bury my head in the pillow, no not song some sort of monotonous lyric, probably the rapper of the bird world. Crows are different, they croak and have lively conversations with each other.
“Hey Fred, what do you thing, that tree over there looks quite comfortable and look at those two females with the sexy beaks.”
“You mean lets take a flight over and croak good morning. They do have sexy curves on their beaks, I must say and dawn is breaking, so they won’t know what has hit them when we arrive.”
Probably the product of this morning rendezvous is a few eggs and married crow life, and Fred and Charlie would probably have been pleased to have forgotten the whole thing. Peaceful crow life met its end at 6.00 a.m. one morning in Spring.
I remember the time when I was a working woman, when there was a purpose in my life to arise with the sun, eat a welcome breakfast, freshen up under the shower, get dressed and go, go, go dragging my son with me on the way. You know when you had that sinking feeling in you stomach, “do I have to do this?” Then 6.00 a.m. had a different meaning, you had a target in front of you. Your fellow workers would waive with welcoming gestures and sour faces when you arrived in the office. I would switch on my computer and see the vibes being generated in the bytes and circuits.
“Good morning computer” I would say in an energetic expectant voice, full of energy to fulfil my day with worthwhile tasks.
“Good morning idiot” my computer did not actually say, after all computers do not speak, but they think and I am sure that was what he was thinking. I remember a work colleague from the computer department whose office was just along the corridor where the windows faced South. She would often pay a visit on a wonderful early morning (it was then around 7.30 a.m.) to inform me that the sun had risen and there would be a fantastic photo to shoot. I dragged myself along the corridor only to find that the clouds were gathering, so there was no photo of the rising sun.
Reflecting on these work days, I am happy and contented now to be a golden oldie, if only the birds would sleep just an hour or so longer. I am a nature lover, but only from about 7.30 a.m. and even then in small doses when I let the cat out. My cat is also a nature lover, but his thoughts about birds are something completely different.
Think about an event you’ve attended and loved. Your hometown’s annual fair. That life-changing music festival. A conference that shifted your worldview. Imagine you’re told it will be cancelled forever or taken over by an evil corporate force.
It seems that the people living in this village do not realise the importance of the wide open spaces to our feline population. Again a villa will be built, destroying the land where mice and cats have tumbled together, playing their games of hide and seek, where the mice hide and the cats seek, the cats being the most successful. Now an important factor of our feline nourishment will be disappearing. Not only one single villa, but it seems that rows of luxury appartments are to be constructed. The humans live in luxury and our cats can be lucky if they find a wandering mouse amongst the swimming pools and sunbeds.
What are we coming to? Are we humans so selfish, that we do not consider the well-being of our feline friends. Even the bird population is dwindling. No self-respecting owl can show his children the pleasures of a nocturnal flight, pouncing on an unsuspecting mouse and bringing him home as breakfast for its growing chicks. Do our councillors and government inspectors have no feelings for nature? Of course they have their pets, pampered persian cats, a naked sphynx cat to show to the neighbours as a trophy, but not real cats. Our cats in the village have been educated to realise what life in the wild incorporates. They are not the pampered tin fed aristocrats of the feline race, they are the feral wanderers, keeping nature under control, ensuring that our homes are not rat or mice infested Even the mice are happy, they are the fittest mice in the area. They learn how to run fast, to jump, to avoid the feline threat. It is pure training from the ground up.
In our area no felines or mice, or even birds, die of being obese, over eating, unfit to survive. The balance of nature is maintained. The fields are left to grow their creals, harvested and then the fun begins. Naked ground showing the mice holes, enabling a good healthy chase for the felines and a clever swoop of a flying crow or magpie.
Stop this ridiculous building of luxury for humans. Let the felines and the rodents roam free, especially my felines. I am now forced to buy vitamine pellets and tins of tuna fish to combat their natural food supplies offered by nature.
It happens: sometimes that filter in our head bursts and we say too much of what we’re thinking and someone gets hurt. Tell us about a time you or someone you know said something that they immediately regretted.
Photographers, artists, poets: show us SHAME.
The felines that own me never actually say or meow what they are thinking and they do not really care if anyone gets hurt.
“Yes Mrs. Human” said Nera “actions speak louder than words. As you can see in this feline study I was contemplating what to do with the situation. Should I wait silently until my meals on wings arrive at the birdhouse. Watch silently until a secure feeling enters the bird’s brain, in as far as they have a brain, and pounce when the bird is not expecting it. I could of course wait until my feathered victim decides to explore the regions on the ground. That would be much easier. I could then perform my “silent feline sleek motion” and pounce. That would be the surprise action. The movement for what we felines are known for.”
“Nera I did not put the bird house in the garden to complement your diat.”
“Then what was the reason? I cannot see any other point in going to the trouble of hanging a feline feeding station on a tree.”
“Yes, Nera, like feeding the birds during the cold Winter months when their normal food is scarce. I am sure you would not like our bird population to starve.”
“You are right Mrs. Human. Starving birds is not the fulfilment of a feline dream. We find them tasty when they are plump. Bony birds are difficult to swallow, but a nice piece of poultry between the teeth is more rewarding. So now do not disturb, the meals on wings do not arrive when you apply human talk. It will scare them away.”
“Nera there is a nice bowl of vitamin pellets in your feeding place in the kitchen if you are hungry.”
“Mrs. Human how would you feel if you were served a permanent meal of dry compressed chemical vitamins for your food. I am sure you would survive, but would that be the utmost in your culinary adventures? No, of course not. Mrs. Human spends time doing something human called cooking. Admittedly the aromas wafting from the kitchen range appeal now and again to my taste buds. Would you like to sit down at the table to a plate of dry pellets that you would have to chew and swallow?”
“Nera it is not the same.”
“Of course it is Mrs. Human. By the way I think I will move to the kitchen now. Did I see a mega bird in your shopping bag when you came home from your hunt in the supermarket?”
“Mr. Human and I are having chicken this evening.”
“And I, me and myself, Tabby my assistant and Fluffy my apprentice? You tell us to share our meals with each other. Perhaps we could share some chicken with you and Mr. Human, then I would not have to sit for hours waiting for an unsuspecting nice fat juicy bird to arrive.”
“No, Nera, you have your meals and Mr. Human and I have ours. Have you ever seen us actually kill a chicken and eat it uncooked?””
“That is true, but I do not have time to watch the eating habits of a subordinate mammal. I have my own problems. And now to the kill.”
The moral of the story is never tell a feline what you are thinking. They are always a step ahead. And yes, I immediately regretted this conversation, as a subordinate human mammal is always one step behind a feline.”
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