Sunday, 5 April 2009

save the magpies

All the trees on the street had big yellow signs attached to them, warning that the tree surgeons would be at work on Friday. I was presented with a dilemma; the magpies have nested in the tree at the front of our house, and while I like magpies because they are lively and exuberant, I also feel protective of the songbirds who nest in the neighbourhood.

There was a blackbird nest in the ivy on a garden wall overlooked by our kitchen window; for a few years running, we watched the blackbirds' to-ings and fro-ings, and their valiant dive-bombing of the magpies that occasionally marauded their way in, looking for the eggs.

Finally, though, it was not the magpies that put paid to the blackbirds' nest. It wasn't even the local cats. It was the aspirational neighbours, who had the ivy ripped down and replaced with a wooden fence, to go with their wooden decking, wooden shed and wooden castle-thing-for-the-kids.

So there are worse things than magpies.

I had a word with the chaps with chainsaws. They agreed to leave the tree alone; indeed, they are obliged to not work on trees with active nests in them. Which must be a problem, this late in the season.

It was fun watching the men swinging around in the trees. Quite fancied having a go myself.

On the climbing of trees, we bumped into Kayle Brandon in IKEA the other week, when we were in there buying frames for my pictures. She it was who organised the Feral Food thing at the Cube in Bristol that I got involved with. She told us that she was having a tree climbing event in Ashton Court, for National Tree Climbing Day or something. Interesting idea. Tree climbing is not really a group activity, in my book. Unless you're a tree surgeon, of course.


  1. I know it's 'for the best' for the trees, but I can't help thinking of amputated fingers when they've been 'pruned'. You know how I feel about magpies but I'm glad you managed to save the nest.

    Did you know that a lot of birds starve to death at this time of the year? People stop putting food out for them, pruning clears away any berries that might be around and insects are decimated by insecticides.

    I put some apple out today, the blackbirds adore it.

    I'm looking forward to seeing pictures of you and Katie up in the trees.

  2. Hey I've got 2 feeders in my garden. One of them the birds will eat from...the other is as full as the day Doris gave it to me!!! Could it be the average concentration of 1 cat per household round here? ;-)

    Great pix Dru.

  3. I love these action chainsaw photos!

    Shame about the blackbirds nest... wooden deck, wooden fence, shame the neighbours wouldn't go... :-)

  4. They're obliged to do a bird survey if the chop down trees or bushes at this time of year. This involves sitting there for half an hour to see if any birds come out of the tree/bush. The law should really say you can't chop stuff down during the nesting season, but that will never happen.

  5. Ahh, that takes me back. Some *cough, cough* years ago, I used to do that job... looking after the woddland gardens at a Horticultural College.

  6. Sometimes decking should be considered for floating into deep space, but I hear rats love them as homes underneath, but then 'rats in space' has a better ring than 'humans in space'! ;-)

  7. I didn't know that about the birds starving, Anji. Unfortunately, with only a bit of flat roof, if I put anything out the crows or the pigeons will get it, and they don't seem underfed at all.

    Why do the birds not feed from the one feeder, Jo? -is it close to cover from which a cat might pounce?

    Thank you, Caroline! Fortunately, there is still plenty of other cover for the blackbirds locally; the morning chorus is full of them

    I didn't see much evidence of a bird survey, Liz; the chap I talked to suggested that he might have had to scramble up to the nest to see if it was active, but I suspect they'd have just gone for it with the chainsaws.

    Wasn't that daunting, Andy, with lots of experts (or 'experts') around telling you where you were going wrong? I have done a tiny bit of tree pruning, and concluded that gravity suddenly becomes a major player in your life when you're up a tree with a saw.

    ...or floating down a river, Alan. I can see the point of rafts, but what is it with garden decking?

  8. Doesn't the decking become slippery in damp weather? I slipped over on some this winter and I wasn't the first

  9. Mmm, I would have been outside watching the men with power-tools.. ;-)

    Yes, I love birds, that would break my heart. I had a blackbird nest outside my bathroom window before I moved here, and I loved it, every year, my landlord and I would put the cat indoors, and watch the babies make their first flight.

    My crows here get cat biscuits for treats when they're nesting.