Imagine my delight when a quick trip into the Oxfam shop yesterday, in search of any old natural history tomes that might help with bee identification, yielded instead a 1976 copy of the outstanding illustrator Archibald Thorburn‘s (1860-1935) Birds, containing 82 watercolour plates of 400 species of British birds. For the princely sum of £1.99. I have owned a copy of Thorburn’s “Mammals” for about 30 years but had never seen a copy of Birds before.
I have included the plate below because this afternoon, with the full importance of its feisty 3 inches to the fore, a female Bluetit ( middle right in the picture), her mate in close attendance, examined the nestbox above the back door, loudly declared it suitable and spent the rest of the afternoon collecting moss from my beautifully (ahem) manicured lawn to build her nest.
She bustled about collecting bedding, whilst he flew to and fro with her, watching closely but not actually helping, occasionally stopping to feed and bathe himself. I resist the obvious temptation to make human comparisons at this point. At one point, just to prove he was functional as well as decorative, he chased a chaffinch out of the birch tree. Brave little fellow. Let’s hope he’s a good provider in due course.
The blackbird is now sitting on a clutch of 4 eggs. I haven’t dared a picture yet-I don’t want to disturb her, but I will try if I can find a time when she is off the nest. Please keep your eyes peeled for nests you spot and let me know what you spy. Thanks to the two who have said they are keen to try to spy on the neighbours. (See last post if this does not make sense.)