As I sit typing this, I can hear baby house martins calling for food. Their parents have nested, as they have done in previous years, under the eaves above my office window. There is something sad about an empty martin’s nest. Every year these remarkable birds fly thousands of miles, often in terrible weather, to return to the same breeding spots. The empty nests are decaying memorials to the birds that didn’t make it. When we mow the lawn and disturb all the bugs, we are rewarded for our labours by a breathtaking aerial display as the martins swoop and swerve low over the grass to pick off the bugs before they settle again.
All summer they breed and feed, often raising two broods. Then one day we open the back door and the sky is empty, the nests deserted. They have gone. I always stand for a moment, looking up, hoping that I’ll see them one last time, knowing it is a vain hope, that summer is over and autumn is on the way.
On the other side of the house, two feet from the back door, a blackbird is nesting in our golden hop. She certainly has good cover, as the nest is wedged into a corner of the wall, away from the wind and rain. She doesn’t seem at all concerned about our comings and goings.
The compost bin is out of commission because of nesting tree bees. They were definitely not happy bees when we took the lid off the bin to dump the grass cuttings, so we’ll just leave them alone and feed the grass to the cows in the field at the end of the garden.
So far the wood pigeons haven’t nested, as they usually do, in the huge espaliered pear tree on the other side of the back door. This is something of a blessing. In previous years, as soon as the sun came up (very early) the brooding bird began cooing to her eggs and, later, to her chicks. She has a very loud voice. I think she’s chosen the yew tree this year, which is further down the garden and out of earshot.
We have a bee-friendly garden, and the foxgloves are proving very popular this year, especially now the aquilegia is finished. There do seem to be more bees about, but mostly bumble bees. I’d like to see a few more honey bees, but they don’t seem to be doing too well.
It’s satisfying living in the middle of a nursery.