Monthly Archives: July 2020

Every day, they come. They walk around, they check every corner, each side, the bottom edge, the top, they do visual inspections, brute force tests… They don’t give up. Sometimes individually, sometimes up to fourteen of them, circling or squabbling viciously amongst themselves. But they don’t tire of it.

The Magpies think that they can get in if they keep working at it and find whatever weakness, some angle of attack that I’ve overlooked, and get the seeds and peanuts inside. And also the tasty mealworms I put there for birds that want them (I’m hoping that the Starlings will come back one day, as annoying as they were in the beginning).

Anyway, it’s fine. The Chaffinches have been in, and I was confident enough to cut a few wider gaps in the mesh to make it more appealing for the slightly larger birds (you might see them if you look closely at the photo). It might be this that the Magpies have been trying to figure out; they know that I did something, that I made a change, and the small bird traffic is steadily increasing, which indicates a possible exploit.

I’m still glad that I did it, even more so. I left some seeds on top of it in a jar lid, and the Magpies threw it off twice. I hung up an old bottle feeder, and every day they come and attack it and try to find new ways to remove it from the hanger. I can’t leave anything out. If they can’t eat it, they destroy it. Magpies. Small, vindictive, flying people.

This morning, while having breakfast, we had a startling, striking visitor to our garden. A Bullfinch! If you don’t know what it is, it is a relatively large finch, heavily built, with black, pink chest and highlights of grey and white. Mid-summer, it is stunning for a small bird. They’re also somewhat people-averse; unlike tits or other finches, they like hiding in bushes or trees and don’t seem to enjoy sharing space with humans (good policy, they’re smart birds).

I’ve long hoped to see one in the garden. There are quite a few of them nearby, I can hear them and occasionally see them, but in the middle of an estate is a bit of a stretch for them so I had resigned myself to not seeing any. This morning, one came, first viewing the garden, then inspecting each feeder in turn, briefly. And then it left, presumably having noted all the available foods on offer.

The new feeder is a mixed bag; on the one hand, it protects the food and the smaller birds from the voracious Magpies, but on the other hand, it’s not high up and with good visibility, which is how many birds prefer it. The tits have finally decided that they like it, so it is now packed for much of the day with Blue, Coal and Great Tits, but no finches, no Robin, no Dunnock (these two don’t feed directly, but on whatever results from other birds feeding), no Blackcap, no Starlings. I haven’t figured out if this is because I moved the feeding post, or the over-abundance of Magpies, or the over-abundance of Magpies was caused by me moving the feeder, or is it seasonal, or the lockdown altered patterns for birds (this has been observed), or because I didn’t put out much food for a month or two during lockdown, or some random factors.

So I was glad to see a visiting Bullfinch, I just hope that the other birds eventually return or at least have found something better than my garden.

Ramble to Maynooth

Some reservations about the Greenwayification, but… the Blanchardstown to Clonsilla section still absolutely scares the shit out of me. Yes, I did put on weight recently. You know where you can take your judgement. And when you’re on the way back, bring me biscuits.

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