Tag Archives: blackbird

Ghosts in my garden

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Five or six years ago I cut down a grapefruit tree in my garden. This was a little sad because blackbirds often nested in it but we didn’t eat the fruit and it was in the way. The blackbirds seem to love citrus trees and now nest in my lemon and tangelo. Anyway, the bare ground underneath grassed over and you can’t see that the tree was ever there. The story isn’t lost though: every so often a small patch of fungi appear on the lawn. I like to think of them as my grapefruit tree ghost, reminding me that grapefruit tree roots are still down there.

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Thrush and blackbird dawn chorus

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On July 12th I wrote of the song thrush beginning its dawn chorus at five to seven each morning. Slowly over the intervening six weeks that time has been pushed back, slowly at first but with gathering pace. After a couple of weeks it jumped to 6.45, then 6.35 and 6.25, seemingly in 10 minute steps. Then more quickly to where it is now at 6.10 am. Last weekend I noticed for the first time that the blackbird has joined in, dominating with its stronger, more resonant song. Blackbirds should have been singing earlier in August but this is the first I’ve heard. Now that the two are singing together it is easy to hear the difference between them.

Out of interest, sunrise on July 12 was at 7.32 am, 37 minutes after the thrush began singing. Now sunrise is at 6.46 am which is 36 minutes after the thrush and blackbird. I can’t fault the thrush on its consistency.

Dawn Chorus

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At five-to-seven in the morning the thrush starts to sing. He’ll be doing it from April to Christmas but as we get into spring he’ll get a bit more company. The dawn chorus is really just him at the moment, with just the odd note from a tui or a myna soon after 7. This month, though, the blackbird will join in and  tuis will start to get very vocal and very early as spring comes around. In the meantime 7 is a very civilised time to start and in case you don’t catch it first time the thrush repeats everything which helps to tell their song from the blackbird’s. In The Fieldguide to the Birds of NZ, the song is described “chitty-choo chitty-choo, oo-eee oo-eee….”, each phrase repeated. But never dull.

More birds in the house

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This young blackbird I can forgive for flying in through the open ranch slider. Not long out of the nest (see the stubby tail) he doesn’t know much yet. He was sitting on the back of the sofa when I first saw him and didn’t do well at finding his way back outside once he decided it wasn’t a good place to be.

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The silvereye that followed soon afterwards had to be caught and released to stop it hurting itself but it flew away happily in the end.

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This older blackbird should have known better. Three birds rescued in one day, and now all three (I’m sure it’s the same ones!) are eating my plums before they’re even ripe. Doesn’t seem right does it.

New life in my garden

P1160004 Young thrush having quiet time.

There has been so much going on in my garden in the last week or two that I thought it time I wrote some of it down. Everyone is building nests, sitting on eggs or feeding fledglings. It is also a time of death. There are young birds hitting windows who haven’t yet learned about glass. There are cats and cars. There are eggs which have been carefully brooded but never hatch. I guess you could sum it up by saying there is life in my garden.

A pair of starlings spend a lot of time on my front lawn feeding in their frantic stabbing waddling way, and finding a surprising amount to eat. They build a nest each year under my neighbour’s eaves (and no, I regret to say, I haven’t told the neighbour) gathering up dry grass and twigs from my garden. After a while they begin carrying food for their youngsters, then, one day the young birds appear and for a while mum and dad are busy chasing them all round the neighbourhood with food. Through the hedge, across the road to the park, around into my back garden, and then gone. Today I saw them again carrying dry grass under the eaves, obviously beginning a new nest now the kids have left home.

The blackbirds have been busy coming and going to my front hedge. In the way birds have of trying to hide their movements, they would always fly first into a camellia beside the hedge, pause for a moment, then pop up onto their nest. Back and forth they went with nest material but now they’re quietly sitting on two eggs. Meanwhile I noticed a Dad and juvenile blackbird on the birdbath in the back garden. I must have missed that pair’s nest.

Then a few days ago a pair of mynas started putting together a nest in a tallish pencil conifer beside my drive. It looks the sort of spot any kid would love to build a hut, secretive but with a good view of everything going on around it. They’re still building but I hope they don’t end up with drainage problems down the track – I’m sure I could hear them shuffling around incorporating a plastic bag into the superstructure. Not a good move. It’ll be a while before they have chicks fledging but there’s always a ruckus once they do as the parents busily protect them from local nasties.

What has just fledged today though are two young thrushes from a nest in my neighbour’s garden. Still with bits of down poking here and there and a yellow gape they look beautiful. They’ve obviously got a lot to learn though – for the last ten minutes one of the pair has been experimenting with trying to come in through various windows around the house. The windows are shut. Hopefully it’ll work out what glass is before it is able to get up more flight speed and do itself some damage.

P1150969 The two young thrushes with stubby little tails.

And the death? A young blackbird on the lawn. How did it die? No one knows but you can be sure its parents are still busy feeding its siblings or getting another nest underway. This is no time to sit around and enjoy the warmer weather. There is work to be done.

My Friendly Blackbird

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I’ve been working in my garden today and this blackbird has kept me company, picking up worms and grubs I disturb. He sits maybe a meter away just watching until turn some morsel over. You might be able to see his beak is dirty but he’s in really good plumage. I’ve been enlarging garden beds to make space for some veges and just a few annuals. I’ve got a batch of vipers bugloss seedlings that need planting out ready for bumble bees this summer. I had one or two plants flowering last summer that were such a success they will be a fixture from now on.The picture below is a ‘before’ shot of where I’m working (NB the ‘after’ photo may be some months away).

front garden makeover