Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Joys of Living

Living as I do on the fringes of woodland, it is an education at this time of year to watch the nesting birds. Predominantly here we have rooks and jackdaws on a site where they have nested for close on 300  years. To watch them setting up home, with their constant squabbling and incessant chatter is to watch a mirror on our own society.
First comes the selection of a suitable tree, then that bird departs in search of a mate for a second opinion. Meanwhile another bird views the same site and leaves also. The first, now pair, return and begin to build their nest, performing real acrobatics in order to wrest suitable twigs from the living, but leafless, trees. Now the second pair return and squabbles abound. In the event they set up home in a neighbouring tree where they continue to barrack their neighbours and, determining to be the neighbours from hell, stealing the nesting material collected by the first pair.
As if that isn't bad enough, both pairs refuse to retrieve any material dropped, instead leaving in search of fresh replacement, which of course gives the opportunity for more stealing! Eventually things settle down, although the occasional squabble occurs. Exchanges are more inclined to be reduced to more of the chat over the garden fence type, except when new neighbours decide to move in adjacent and the whole cycle begins again, this time with the original two pairs ganging up on the newcomers!
Eventually all settles down except that the jackdaws do seem to have a real gift of the gab as they chatter all day and all night. Presently we shall have chicks yelling for food 24 hours a day, and then the mess begins to build up. Discarded twigs, moss, faeces, feathers, all in my garden! Then will come the spectacle of the fledglings standing their ground on the grass, waiting for another meal and facing down the local cat who is also hungry.
Soon they join their parents in their daily excursion who knows where, and quiet will return to the trees. Until, that is, about 9 pm when the entire flock returns together with the loudest chorus to take up their nightly roost. In the long evenings of summer the returning flock get later, but as the nights draw towards autumn they return increasingly early until, eventually, they settle down to a new routine for winter. Peace. But there is always next year...

Domestic animals also give pleasure of course. Number one cat, Portia, who has always used a litter tray, decided a while ago to also go outside. This made our life less messy and marginally cheaper. Imagine The Wife's chagrin when she found the midden in the garden! Having cleared it, twigs, thorns, and other deterrents were placed, but Portia simply moved them aside and continued her daily visits. She must, sometimes have balanced on two legs to get into the correct position. Rediscovering the midden yesterday, I cleared it and decided that if I couldn't deter Portia, at least I would try to ensure that it was all in one place. I therefore removed the twigs and ensured that the soil was fresh, clean, and loose. Portia promptly used her box! Oh, well.

For many years The Wife has kept fish. First it was goldfish, then tropicals, now both. The large tropical tank has been stable for some years and well cared for. On rising yesterday it was discovered that the water was extremely clouded, one fish was dead, and the others were all struggling to breathe. Fortunately we have a small reserve tank which was hurriedly set up and the struggling fish transferred. The large tank was tested for toxins, with negative results, and then thoroughly cleaned. This morning the fish survived their overnight in the smaller tank, but the large one remains clouded as though there is something in solution. We are baffled and concerned about the surviving fish's welfare since the change in their water may yet cause them to fail. We shall see.

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