A Twitter of Linnets


Today started with a twitter of linnets in the garden. The young have fledged and flown, but mummy and daddy linnet are high up in the maple tree tweeting their tweet/response. It’s driving the cat wild with excitement. Linnets are not uncommon here at this time of year. They’re what my friend calls LBJs, little brown jobs, easily mistaken for sparrows. The parent linnets have a very pretty song, (more of a twitter really) and they find a perch high up where the fledglings can see them on a chimney, aerial or top branch, and then they go for it. This time it’s a monotonous tweeting and it drives the cat wild.

In human terms it’s a bit like the coach at a swimming pool constantly willing on the beginner swimmers. There’s definitely some coaching going on:

“Not there! Look out! That’s more like it!  Fly to that branch! Not there! Beware cat! Food on its way. Over here!’

I’m not even sure what linnets eat, but I‘m assuming it’s seeds. Once they’re big enough they’ll be on their way and I won’t have to stand guard over the cat anymore.

Further down Smithfield Road, there’s a thick holly hedge, mixed with hawthorn and other shrubs. Hearing tweeting coming from this hedge, I pulled aside a few branches and saw to my surprise the tiniest bird I’ve ever seen, -smaller than a ping-pong ball – hopping about. A tiny ball of brown feathers topped with a golden crest. Yes, it was a goldcrest. Didn’t take much working out!  They’re not that rare, but something so small (it’s Britain’s tiniest bird) usually goes unnoticed. I mean, who’s going to stand in the road and stare into a holly bush for ages? Well me, I suppose.

Once, before the cat made itself at home, we heard a kerfuffle outside the window and witnessed a big hawk ripping into the carcass of the self- important pigeon we referred to as The Vicar. Rushing for the bird book, we discovered it was a goshawk. It stared at us with a fierce, malevolent gleam in its yellow eyes, daring us to take its prey away. We watched it – even took a photo- until The Vicar was no more than a scruffy pile of feathers. I think the feet and beak were somewhere in there. I’m just glad the cat wasn’t in the garden at the time.

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