As I sit at my desk I can see through the window, at a distance of some ten metres, a low dry-stone wall that I built to retain a raised flowerbed (the photo – not a very good one – shows another wall that I built at the front of the garden).
Ten days or so ago, I noticed a pair of coal tits entering and leaving a hole in the retaining wall – it was obvious that they intended to nest. This concerned me somewhat, as we have a cat and two terriers, all with a history of extreme anti-bird prejudice. At first they didn’t seem to notice the coal tits, but a couple of days ago all three started to take a serious interest in the comings and goings at the hole, which is only 18 inches or so from the ground.
I keep a watchful eye on the would-be predators when I can, and chase them away from the wall; I placed a wheelbarrow in such a way as to hinder them. I was afraid that all the activity might scare the coal tits and cause them to abandon their eggs or brood, but no – they perch on a nearby corkscrew hazel and return to the nest when the coast is clear.
Of course I am quite fond of these tiny, irrepressible bundles of energy by now, and would be very disappointed should anything untoward happen to one of them or, in due course, their fledglings. It’s a bit of a worry.
55 responses to “It’s a worry …”
Well, nature is ‘red in tooth and claw’…
Although yes, I think I would be as upset as you, Brendano.
I get upset when I see dead animals on the road; pheasants and stuff. I’m not a vegetarian or anything, but it’s just the extreme callousness of humanity, driving over something that was alive without so much as a by your leave.
There was a dead cat on the road a few months ago and everyone was just driving past so I picked it up and put it on the side in a hedge. My reasoning is that it was a living thing once, and if I were lying by the side of the road, I’d want someone to do the same for me.
Christ it’s not even wrong time of month! I’ll shut up now.
You built that wall? I’m impressed.
“Anti-bird prejudice” made me laugh. 🙂
Hi Claire. You obviously have a soft heart! I do have a soft spot for the gentlest and most harmless wild creatures such as the small birds and hares.
Hi Levent. Yes, I built it. That’s just one small section … I have built several walls and I’m quite proud of them; if I’d more photos I’d post them. I started another at the weekend, to replace a rusty old gate. All the stone was just lying around on our site when we bought it to build the house.
Incidentally, Claire, I’ve often rescued mice, baby rabbits, etc. from the cat.
Once I made it release a pygmy shrew, which ran straight into a drain where it must inevitably have drowned.
The cat has just caught and killed one of the coal tits and, to make matters worse, sat on my window sill crying to get in, with the bird in its mouth.
I’d really like to be rid of this cat. Unlike the various cats we had previously, it has no good features and lots of bad ones.
I can’t help laughing. Sorry Brendan. Reminded me something a friend told me. When he was a kid. Just before leaving for a trip he felt pity for the spider in his room, thinking it will starve, as no flies will enter the house when they were away. Caught several flies and put on its net to feed him during their absence.
When they returned they found the spider grew quite much. He was scared and had her mother remove the spider and its net. 🙂
Levent, you heartless beast! 🙂
The cat almost got in a fight with a fox once; my daughter scared away the fox. I almost wish she hadn’t. All the cat does is pester for food when it already has food and, sometimes, crap where it shouldn’t.
No more cats after this one.
Last night I literally laughed out loud. Because I remembered your comment on Adam’s blog “what about the stuck bear?” Still laughing. You are naughty at times, you know that, don’t you? 🙂
I try to be, Levent. I’m glad somebody notices. 🙂
Take my advice :The cat and dogs are part of your territory and will do whatever nature tells them.
Try to move the coal tits.
How that is done I don’t know, where is a Bilby when you need it.
Cats, as much as I like them, are evil predators. It’s in their make up.Unfortunately I have met a few birds in my life that were very cute, but not very wise. The CT will not learn until they vanish. Do them a favour and relocate them, by whatever means.
How rude of me! Hello Claire!
Hi Rainer. I think it’s probably too late now, as one bird is dead and the other is carrying on as normal. We have a lot of stone wall with a lot of holes and I’ve never see this happen before … I could have blocked the hole but I’d be afraid of imprisoning a bird or eggs.
I know it’s the cat’s nature and I don’t hold it against her. We used to have two cats (the nicer one died), and when they were young they were serious predators … always playing with some unfortunate mouse on the patio.
The cat is good for keeping rats away, but now we have dogs that will do that anyway … so no more cats after this one meets its eventual demise, I think.
18 inches off the ground is too easy for the cat. Is there any way you can build a light partition around the area of the wall?
Hi Jaime. We were considering rigging up something with diamond wire or chicken wire. The problem is that the cat can still potentially swat the bird as it enters or leaves, but it may give it more of a chance.
I don’t know whether coal tits are found in the US … they look like this.
Lovely little bird, looks a bit like a chickadee in this photo. It seems to be an “Old World” bird, with a range in Europe, Russia and north Africa.
Thanks, Jaime … I’ve often heard of the chickadee (‘my little chickadee’ as a term of endearment???) but never knew what it was like.
Hey Brendano; Jaime, Levent…
I’m not a cat person – never have been, never will be. Nor a doggy girl. More of a mouse, so I’ve been told…
Hey, sorry for going off topic here, and sorry to blow own trumpet as well, but I can’t resist… I’ve been shortlisted for some writing award called Brit writers or something. I’m well chuffed.
Brilliant news, Claire … congratulations! 🙂
Give a link if you like.
Will try to find one – they’ve told me via email. They said there were 21 000 entries or something ridiculous like that. I’m well chuffed. I entered ages ago with my December entry from MyT; the competition organisers said they didn’t mind if it had been posted online or entered in a competition elsewhere. It was free if you entered before a certain date. I only ever do the free ones…
Well, it makes up for a thoroughly crap week so far… 😉
I just had a look at the site, Claire … it’s incredibly impressive to be shortlisted from thousands upon thousands of entries … it must certainly be a great boost for you.
I hope you’ll go on and win it now. 🙂
Brendano; that’s not going to happen – I never win anything, not even teachers’ race on sports day, which is fast approaching. Actually,the very thought of that brings me out in a sweat…
But it’s nice to be shortlisted though. Bit of a boost, so to speak, when one is faced with piles of ironing… 🙂
Well, you must have a chance of winning … after all, you probably didn’t think you’d a chance of being shortlisted.
No, true. I just cut and pasted what I’d done on MyT and bunged it in…
Can I get an autograph please, ma’am?
Hey Claire, that’s great! I’m going to check out the site. Be back later!
Well, I couldn’t find the shortlist, Claire. But maybe you’ll winn £10,000. That would be cool. You could hire someone to do that ironing!
Hey Jaime, Levent.
Ta; they told us via email. There’s another round yet, so it’s not like the final shortlist or anything. But still, it’s cool to have got to this stage.
Jaime, do you visit any other creative writing forums btw?
Hi Brendan, Nice story. Perhaps you could build a nest box and attach it to a nearby tree as an alternative? If possible I think it must be south facing – bird brains are not so daft after all.
Hi Nobby, and welcome to my blog. 🙂
We tried a nestbox years ago, but it wasn’t used. The one remaining coal tit is going about its business, and I chase the cat every time it goes near.
The hole in the wall is like a mini Fort Knox now, protected by a wheelbarrow full of water, rakes, briars, etc. (not that the real Fort Knox uses technology of this sort).
No, Claire, just the two baddies: MyT and Bearsy’s (DNMyT). Not sure why. But I do submit work to lit mags online and by snail mail. I seldom do contests; they just seem so over-the-top impossible. And, well, random. Not that you should take that as a comment on your work. I think you are a good writer. Getting published in general is difficult, winning competitions seems to multiply that by a factor of 10.
Not sure why sometimes I come up with an icon on this site and other times not. Any suggestions, Brendan?
I have no idea, Jaime. Perhaps you need to refresh your cache or something?
Hi B, shame about the Coal Tit being caught by the cat, but nature is what it is; bloody, unforgiving and cruel.
Claire, congratulations on being shortlisted on your story. Such brilliant news for you. I remember your first short story entry on MyT about a large, vacant house and the personification of a musical instrument, I think it was a harp if my memroy serves me well. Was it this one?
Hi Flavia … I’d like to be bloody, unforgiving and cruel to the cat sometimes. 🙂
If your memory serves you well … cue for a song. 🙂
Hello Flavia and Jaime; thanks.
Yes, it was a story about a large house and a piano. Nice that you remembered!
I have it under an old account that I rarely use over on MyT. One of these days I will have to mop up the contents of all of these accounts and stick them all in one place!
Thanks for the happy, hippie vibe B.
Ginge, our flipped out family cat wouldn’t know a coal tit if it landed on his nose. I think he was a squirrel in a former life with this crazy ginger frizz thing going on. Monty, the family hound, on the other hand catches rabbits, chases the occassional deer to exhaustion and is just well….bad, bad, bad! But we love him, well I do anyway. 😀
Claire, that was it, a piano. Your story had a lovely haunted quality to it. Could you direct me to your page on wordpress? I’d love to visit.
Good morning Claire,
Take a look: http://www.authonomy.com/
Hi Flavia and Levent. Flavia, I don’t think Claire has a blog of her own yet.
I would post a photo of our hounds, but I don’t know how to put it in a comment so will do a new post later.
The easiest way to insert in a comment is to make it in a blog draft, and then copy the html code (you can see it by clicking the HTML tab at the to of the box) then paste into the comment.
Thanks, Levent. 🙂
Those are the hounds.
They are posing! The brown one looks cute.
Actually they are both very cute and very mischievous … great pets.
Hello Brendano, Levent, FLavia…
Sorry for lateness of reply; work gets in way..
thanks for link to AUthonomy, Levent. I have been tempted to go there before but don’t know whether it’s simply a community of back scratching darlings of the slush pile! What’s good about MyT’s creative writing is that it’s up there, for one and all to see and you get honest answers from people who are non literary types, which is in my view the best kind of feedback
Having said that Authonomy would be fresh start from MyT. Julie T is there though, and she is fab, so that’s encouraging. Yet you have to have a minimum of 10 000 words before you can upload, so that’s me out for time being!
Flavia, I will set up a word press account in next few weeks, in hope that it will encourage me to get on and write novel.
What happened to your novel btw? I heard you’d got an agent last year with online novel…?
Sorry Brendano; completely off topic again. Not a doggy or a cat girl, me, as you’ve probably guessed! 🙂
Hi Claire … don’t ever apologize; be as off-topic as you want.
I put a novel I’d written on Authonomy for a while and got some positive feedback at first, but it’s hard to be noticed there unless you’re an active member of the community, and I didn’t have the time to read and comment on lots of other people’s novels.
Hey; thanks Brendano.
That’s the problem I think with it; it strikes me as a bit incestuous. I could be wrong. At least on MyT, the feedback is straight up and uncomprimising.
And I don’t think I could be bothered with trawling through loads of other people’s novels just to get mine noticed! I’m too lazy….
Having said that, is yours still there? Can I have a peek? Don’t want to tread on any toes, so say no if you like.
Claire, I took mine down after a while. A publisher is interested and is working with me, so to speak, so I didn’t think there was any point in leaving an old version there while I was rewriting.
I get up early each morning to do the rewriting, but it’s a slow enough process.
What was it about? That’s impressive; so hard to get a publisher these days. How did you go about it? I suppose actually writing the novel is, ahem, a start… 🙂
Well, I don’t definitely have the publisher … I had a meeting with them a while back and they let me know the kind of revisions they’d like to see, so it’s up to me to come up with the goods.
How I went about it is a masterclass in how not to go about it … 🙂
Must dash; talk to you soon.
Well, still impressive stuff…
I clicked on that link and voila, there is the blog. I will try to think of something articulate to say. But my brain is fried, as it always is on Thursday nights…
Good for you, Claire. My ‘Blogroll’ now has a link to your blog.
Amazing about the crab, Cymbeline.
Coal tits are nesting in the same place again … now there is no cat to bother them. The dogs don’t seem to have noticed and I’m hoping this will continue, but they ought to be less of a threat than the cat in any case.
Now, for the third year in a row, two coal tits are nesting in the same hole in the wall – they fly in and out constantly with food, so there must be chicks in there. Again, the dogs don’t seem interested, which is good.
Latest … two chicks emerged from the nest today and are now hopping about on the gravel. Extremely cute … luckily there are no magpies about.