The Man posted some pictures from the frogs (or are they toads?) that thoroughly enjoyed yesterday’s downpour. I took pictures as well, but mine look better. They should, as I used my Canon 100mm macro lens and he used his Panasonic Lumix snapshot camera (and probably needs a good cleaning of its lens).
Most working days I have lunch on my own at home. For entertainment while eating I position myself at the kitchen table so I can see the garden. It gives me a great view of all the visiting birds. Doing this often resulted in discovering patterns. And those patterns differ from those I observed previous winter. Here is a list of patterns and behaviour I witness almost every day.
One: most birds come and pick their food in a similar rhythm as mine. In the morning when it’s light enough, midday and just before dark.
Two: this year the biggest group of visitors are finches (last year house sparrows were the majority) and they don’t like each. They fight each other off the seeds constante.
Three: the house sparrows, blue tits and great tits don’t get the fuss of the finches and calmly pick their seeds from the food silo dangling in the apple tree.
Four: I have seen one hedge sparrow this season and it visits every day. Together with the robin it picks on the ground, and are always alert for threats.
Five: the single pigeon that frequented the garden last year is no longer single. I call the pair Dolly and Doris. (Dolly is the name of the pigeon that stars in the famous children’s book Pluk van de Petteflet).
Six: the two turtledoves are chickens. They are the first ones to leave the scene when they think there is a threat. So far there were no real threats I observed.
Seven: the mouse, which I spotted for the first time three weeks ago, has settled under the beams left of the garden stairs. I see it almost daily. In the same rhythm as the birds it picks seeds from under the apple tree to eat and hide in its house. It has been spotted by one of my cats as well, so I fear for its life in the long run.
Eight: Starlings, despite the wonderful shades of blue, green and grey of their feathers, love to make a shitty mess. I’m glad there are only two of them this season. The bird’s peanut butter is what they visit for.
I was having lunch with Daughter, the Man was still out doing getting the groceries. While Daughter was finishing some building work before coming to the table, I already sat down and started preparing a sandwich. I was facing the garden so I could watch all the birds feasting on the seeds we serve in the garden. The last couple of days temperatures dropped to what one would expect from Dutch winter, so the amount of birds visiting our garden was higher than usual so far this season. I haven’t seen much house sparrows this season, but a family was picking seeds yesterday. I even spotted a greenfinch.
Then I saw something in the corner of my eye. It was grey and moved very fast on the ground. I was wondering which bird could walk so fast. And then I spotted it, standing right in the middle of the terrace: a mouse. Now I know that is not something spectacular to see. Mice are everywhere. Douglas Adams could have been right mice are running the world. But in this home, a mouse is a rare thing to witness.
In our previous home, we were practically used to co-living with them. Our cats did a good job managing the population in the neighbourhood, but had the annoying habit of playing with them inside our home, our bedroom even. Man became a very skilled mouse killer over the years and one time a mouse settled behind our fridge. But ever since moving to this house, in this street, I have never seen one nor heard any sound revealing the presence a mouse in our garden. We had our close encounters with frogs (one day we had many baby frogs trespassing our home), but we took mice off our ‘species who live in our garden’-list.
Now you perhaps understand better why I was so excited to see a mouse in my garden. So excited that I even called Daughter to come and look at a real mouse, but of course it was gone before she reached the window. Except, she got plenty of opportunity to see the mouse. The mouse turned out to be feasting on the seeds the birds dropped on the ground, in broad daylight! Fearless, unaware of imminent cat danger (not only our cats, but many neighbouring cats tend to visit our garden), it was running back and forth to collect seeds. Until yesterday the only times I had seen mice running around in our garden, the previous one, was when one of our cats caught on to play with. Some of them were bold to fight off the cats. But a mouse walking around the garden to collect food without signs of stress is a totally new concept to me.
It was wonderful to watch. I’m curious if I’ll see it again today. And whether it can live long and prosper in this cat littered neighbourhood.