Tuesday, 8 August 2017

a breaking heart..?

The pond fills..
Sandlands need a lot of extra nourishment to be fertile. Pete helps us by delivering a piled trailer-full of horse manure from his stables. It was our turn yesterday: a huge pile of steaming muck. A dream come true for an organic vegetable garden. I helped it out of obstinate corners with a long bamboo pole. Pete reminded me ‘Make sure it doesn’t go in your wellies’ as it avalanched down. No problem. I gave hime a big bag of veggies as a thanks.
Later, I sat on the terrace and felt a lump in my trouser pocket. Without thinking, I reached in and pulled out ... a large piece of horse muck. Only six people to witness it. 

The awful August weather has had one benefit - George's Pond has never been fuller. It must be within 10cms of its' upper limit. Plants that were at the waters' edge are now a couple of metres into the pond. It looks amazing.

If you listen carefully, there's a plaintive single-note call around the garden. For a bird so beautifully rosy-pink it is surprisingly difficult to see it's owner - a male bullfinch.
Richard in the 'bird ringing shed'
We know this bird. He was born in 2016 and Rich ringed him in the garden in April this year. We also ringed his mate at the same time. She too was born in 2016. The age of a bird is determined by careful examination of its feathers. Bullfinches are monogamous and are believed to pair for life. They stay within the same area all their lives. Unlike other finches they reinforce their relationship with their mate outside the breeding season. Young birds, on leaving the nest form intimate pair bonds with a sibling caressing with beaks and feeding. At this stage there are no colour differences between the sexes and bonds often form between two males or two females. I have heard bullfinches called 'The English Lovebirds'. 
Although we have ringed a number of male bullfinches, we have only ringed one female.
On Thursday I had a call from a neighbour: a female bullfinch had flown into her window and died. It was ringed. She brought the bird to us, saying that a male bird was calling in her garden and appeared distressed. The dead bird was our ringed one.
We took a note of the ring number and buried the bird.
Since then, a male has been calling all around the garden. He was calling when I led a group of friends around the garden.
We are urged to avoid anthropomorphism but it is difficult not to have fellow-feeling for him. His little heart must be breaking.

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