Being forced to live in isolation makes us more aware of the beauty that surrounds us. Although our freedom is restricted those of us who are lucky enough to have a garden are able to enjoy the wonderful weather whilst watching the wildlife.
Lately we have noticed a pair of blackbirds foraging for food to feed their young. This seems to be a full time job. The male blackbird in particular has been very active, gathering bugs and worms to take back to the nest in the laurel. Every time my husband digs over a patch in the flower bed the blackbird is there, eager to see what’s been unearthed.
I am often awake before sunrise, listening to the dawn chorus; the blackbird’s song being the most prominent. My mother always maintained the blackbirds were the first to get up in the morning and the last to go to bed. I think she was probably right. My father was an early riser – he would make a pot of tea, take one in to my mother then pour himself a cup, take it outside and walk round the garden in his pyjamas and dressing gown. He would check to see which plants had sprouted new growth whilst listening to the birdsong and watching the sunrise. He did this every morning in the spring.
When I was a child I often had a friend to tea in the summer and we’d sit in the garden eating our banana or jam sandwiches and cakes, throwing the last of the crusts to the birds. She didn’t have a garden but at six years old I knew I was very fortunate. My mother felt sorry for her and encouraged her to run home and ask her mum if she could stay for lunch and do the same in the afternoon for tea. In those days our regular visitors were blackbirds, thrushes, starlings, blue tits and sparrows; starlings and sparrows being the most common. It was very rare to see a wood pigeon. Nowadays it’s rare to see a thrush and even the thuggish starlings are dying out. The pigeons are the new thugs of the birdworld – forever multiplying and scaring off the smaller birds.
Lately we have noticed the red kite is back, circling above. We are pleased because we haven’t seen it since last year and we miss seeing the buzzards since moving from Cornwall. Another glorious sight is the swans or geese flying over in formation and squawking happily, the sun catching their wings.
We count ourselves very lucky to live in the country, especially at this difficult time of lockdown. It must be terrible for the people who are cooped up in flats with no outdoor space or a balcony, wondering when the restrictions will be lifted. But whether we live in the town or the country I’m sure we’ll never take our freedom for granted again.