A family walk this morning. Took a trip out to the Somerset Levels, now that we are allowed to travel a bit more.

Lots of birds – but no cuckoos. Swifts, sedge warblers, curlews, reed buntings, skylarks, egrets and swans.

Meadows looking lovely. Lots of flowers including orchids (Southern Marsh?).

 

Drama in the garden when we returned. Birds giving alarm calls – turned out a great spotted woodpecker was having a crack at the box where the great tits are nesting.

It hammered a hole in the underside and get at the young chicks – grisly. Think it got one and killed a second.

Managed to effect a temporary repair using a flattened baked bean tin and wire. Hopefully it will hold out enough to keep the woodpecker off. Later saw one of the adult great tits hauling the remains of a dead chick out. Am hoping the remaining two will survive.

Tawny owlFor a bird with a reputation for being secretive, jays make an almighty racket when the occasion calls for it.

Yesterday, a walk in the woods. A jay kicks off in the trees above me. Spotted movement amongst the branches. There it was, getting in the face of a tawny owl. It would fly onto the branch next to the owl, squawk in its face and fly off again. Meanwhile, she would give a little ‘tu-whit’ in response.

Full disclosure: there is an owl box nearby that is currently occupied, so I had an idea what the fuss was all about.

Went and got my camera.

The jay had gone. The owl was now higher up in the tree, staring down at me, staring up at her.

Being watched by a creature like that is always a thrill. Enjoyed the moment and left her too it.


Thinking about the last year. Mental health. Anxiety. Depression. It’s taken a long time to come to a point of acceptance. Even now, the anxious mind questions the seriousness of it all. Little doubts here and there.

Are you sure you’re not just imagining all this?

This is not a patch on the problems some people have.

The one question that I still have yet to make peace with is how did it take so long to realise the nature of the problem? To get to this age and the penny not really drop.

Still wrestling with this one. The best answer for the moment is the boiling frog metaphor.

As an anxious child there is no alternative reality that shows yours is atypical. You grow up adapting your life around maladaptation. Avoidance. And that just reinforces the whole process. A negative feedback loop. And before you know it, that water is boiling.

Looking back I can see many wrong turns. It is hard not to feel regret. But equally I am here, right now, in a much better place. With a lot of living to do.

So if that means taking the time to stare up at an owl staring back at me, that’s what I’ll do.

International Dawn Chorus Day

Got out into the garden this morning to listen to the dawn chorus, and made these two recordings. Stereo recording, best listened to with headphones for full immersion.

First one at 5:15am, mainly blackbirds and robins. It started to rain as I recorded so you can hear that too.

Second recording, made at 6:00am and the sound profile has changed – many more species.

The blue tits that are using the nest box in our garden are getting much busier. Nest building is very much underway as can be seen in the picture below. I built and installed the box last year, and what they don’t know is that it has a hinged roof, so I can take a peek inside. This is not just from idle curiosity but so that I can record the nest activity for the BTO Nest Record Scheme. They are such bossy birds and are great fun to watch.

 

There was a moment of alarm last weekend when I realised the box was leaning at an odd angle. Part of the fixings I had used to attach it to the tree had come loose. Fortunately I was able to do a quick repair job without disturbing the birds – hence the string now tied around the box. Disaster averted!