Wednesday, 8 December 2010
We have a tiny garden here in Cambridge - two strides and you have reached the back fence - but we are very lucky to back onto a very large garden indeed, with lots of very mature trees. We are quite near a large park and we are also not that far from open countryside. Consequently we have an astonishing amount of bird life coming to our feeders.
We get chaffinches and dunnocks, blackbirds and robins. We have a mob of unruly starlings that descend on the place a few times every day. A magpie drops in every now and then. Long-tailed tits come through, tumbling and cheeping. We get blue tits, great tits and pretty little coal tits with their striped heads. We get collared doves and wood pigeons. Early in the year we had a black cap take up residence, chasing every other bird away for weeks. Wrens flit through the shrubs and hunt among the ivy leaves. Red wings have been feeding in a bury bush in our neighbour's garden all winter and carrion crows and jackdaws croak and hop along the roof ridges and chimney pots. We even occasionally get a visit from a greater spotted woodpecker.
But our most common bird, by far, is the goldfinch - a bird that rarely came to our feeders in Norfolk despite (or maybe because) our having an acre of garden. Every day, a charm of goldfinches comes to our feeders. Unlike the tits, who take a seed and dash off, the goldfinches sit quietly and elegantly peck away.
Until, that is, a sparrowhawk swoops by, and then even they will lose their cool. The goldfinch above crashed into a window in its panic and lay unconscious on the freezing pavement. My son picked it up and held it, keeping it warm (while he himself shivered with cold), until it came round. Just as we were thinking that it must be damaged in some way, it flitted away into a nearby tree.
This is the second bird my son has revived this year. A siskin did the same thing when we holidayed in Wales (for the same reason).