Thursday, 8 March 2018

The Battle of The Birds

The snow finally stopped snowing and people, mainly winged people, started to come out of whichever hedges they'd been hiding in. On top of all the crisp whiteness, clearly devoid of anything good to eat for anyone, we threw a handful of breadcrumbs - and inadvertently started a war! Or a day of battle at least.

This fine fellow started it. He came to our garden and swapped a crumb for a song (as the bard said - follow this link to hear Telling The Bees beautiful song 'Blackbird') 

He briefly flapped off home and invited his lady wife to join him, which she did, gratefully eating the crumbs in a far more delicate way then her bluff and bullish husband. She eyed me cagily as I photographed her.

He, meanwhile, was seeing off all competition in no uncertain manner!

He strutted around chasing Robins, (this one had a sneaky peck while The Blackbird Bully was seeing off some Robin cousins.)

He flew at Hedge Sparrows,

Even Song Thrushes, a bird as big as he, were not safe from his attacks.

He was busy for a good while, defending the crumbs against all comers.

Some retired from the fray and took up spectating.

Some engaged him in dance after dance, playing here we go round the mulberry bush between spats.

But in the end, even this determined little thrush gave up.

He just sat on the gate and let the wind blow through his feathers, while the blackbird hopped from foot to foot on the cold snow, refusing to budge.

He took up a 'Position of Power' underneath the sage bush, his feathers all fluffed up against the cold.

When any other bird strayed near HIS crumbs he was straight at them. Fanning his tail out and puffing himself up, partly against the cold, but partly perhaps to show what an impressive opponent he was.

Fluffed-up and spread out seemed to be a popular stance. There were those brazen enough to risk the blackbird's ire. They came in twos and threes, so someone always got a peck or two while the others provided the distraction.

Some others took up 'Positions of Power' too! This robin sitting on a snow hillock to emphasise his momentary dominion over the field.

I don't suppose the robin's really were working together, but you never know. When the blackbird gave up, just too cold to stay put any longer, they started fighting each other for the crumbs. And we went for a walk.

Out of the gate, past the battle field.

We walked along the tractor tyre path

Because it's so much less slippy, and frankly, none of us are getting any younger!

Although not all of us always act our age.

We went past frozen wonders,

Past the garden, now straight out of Narnia and no longer looking like something that needs some urgent weeding. The magics of snow are many!

Across the starkly beautiful fields,

To 'The View'.

From here we can see Hound Tor,

Bowerman's Nose and Hay Tor too, but I didn't photograph those. And wild and beautiful land, both farms and moorland, that stretches out in every direction. On a clear day you can see the sea. Not today.

It's mostly gone now, the snow, and the strange and beautiful feeling of being isolated and yet utterly in community with all that lives has slightly dissipated. Snow days were full of beautiful moments, watching birds for half and hour or more, making cakes and real hot chocolate, sewing and reading and making music. We lit fires which we then sat and watched rather than just being slightly absently grateful for as we focus on what 'needs' to be done.

It is my wish for myself that I will remember have snow days even when it isn't snowing. To feel the spaciousness of 'nothing too pressing to do', to know that there are few things in this life that really need to be done BEFORE you have a cup of tea, or look at the birds, or listen to their songs, or remember that you are part of all of this - an indivisibly interwoven facet of Nature, as truly as any blackbird or berry.

I wish it for you too.


  1. i must confess to wild envy of your snowy day(s) and every other facet described and pictured here... it all looks so very beautiful, and those views! sheer perfection.

    thank you for sharing the tranquility...

    1. Thank you for appreciating the tranquillity! We do know how lucky we are to live here, and I hope in sharing a little slice of the view, we share our love of the land and make it's beauty available to those who wish to appreciate it from afar.

  2. Such wild magic and beauty! <3 Birds are endlessly fascinating, aren't they? Their world surpasses our imagination, I'm sure.

    1. They are! Their world is one I'm so delighted to be a tiny part of, whenever I can be. <3

  3. Thank you for appreciating the tranquillity! We do know how lucky we are to live here, and I hope in sharing a little slice of the view, we share our love of the land and make it's beauty available to those who wish to appreciate it from afar.