Earlier this year, a couple of robins – who usually wouldn’t go anywhere near each other – decided to set up home together and raise a family in a bird box in my garden.
It was a rather attractive abode, hand-made by Simon and painted a duck blue by myself. Last year, great tits lived in a different nest box in Cosy Garden but this was the first time The Blue Cottage would come into use.
I noticed one, if not two, of the robins every day it seemed. They were very busy, flying, eating from the feeder, perching on a garden table, surveying their territory.
And then one day, silence.
I didn’t notice right away. I assumed they must have been doing their business when I was out at work or somewhere else. Also I expected the mother to be sitting on the eggs so I didn’t expect to see her.
I continued to avoid the top part of the garden so I wouldn’t distract the pair.
The days went into a week and then another week passed by. Perhaps the eggs had hatched and the chicks had flown when I wasn’t around?
Eventually, I gave a little peek. Something I avoid doing as new and expectant mums hate being disturbed.
But there was no one there except five tiny eggs.
So what happened? To this day, the robins have not returned. Possible explanations I have heard were the adults were ‘killed by a cat or car’ or ‘the eggs were never going to hatch, they weren’t fertilised in the first place. So they left’.
I hope the robins weren’t killed, hopefully this time it just didn’t work and they will be back with more eggs and a successful outcome.
I often have neighbours popping into Cosy Cottage Garden Cafe. It is a self-service restaurant where customers can just help themselves to the regularly replenished supplies.
Fat balls are supplied, a delicacy favoured by the tits. The long-tailed tits come as a large close-knit family, the blue tits and great tits venture in by themselves or in pairs.
Robin is a regular, a nosy fellow, he likes to keep an eye on any gardening being done. Unfortunately, he is a jealous loner too, and doesn’t like to see others in his café.
There’s plenty of room for you all, I say, keeping the peace as cafe proprietor.
But he ignores me and shouts abuse at a larger blue tit.
Luckily, when the argumentative Robin flies on to another cafe, my customers come back. But despite his bad behaviour to other clients, he is a favourite regular and is always welcome here.
Blackbird prefers the ground seating to upstairs. As well as scatterings from the bird table, he may be lucky enough to catch a juicy worm for dessert. He too comes by himself, but is happy enough to share the edibles with the other birds.
Pigeon too, is a regular customer, sometimes he brings his mate and they munch on tasty leftovers, dropped by messy eaters from above.
Fat balls aren’t the only item on offer. There are coconut feeders and an array of healthier seed is also available, although the fat balls are the most popular. A drinking area with water is also set aside for my clients.
As well as regulars, there are the more flamboyant visitors. A bullfinch and his mate have hovered in the nearby trees, a nuthatch paid a visit on a couple of occasions, sampling the goods, and a Jay has also been a colourful client, staying a short while. Sparrows, starlings, a coal tit and a shy little dunnock, who prefers not to be noticed, have all sampled the delights of Cosy Cottage café.
It is a pleasure to serve such a diversity of characters. Do you have a ‘cafe’ in your garden?
Facts of the Day
1. The tail of the long-tailed tit is more than half the bird’s total length.
2. The great tit is the largest member of the tit family in Britain. More than 50 distinct calls and songs have been identified.
3. Coal tits are the smallest tit in Britain. Its favourite habitat is coniferous woodland.