G J Griffiths @gjgfh_g
Foxcubs dining out on patio! We had five in the end! Must be two families nearby. Coming every night for weeks.
We were quite happy watching a female blackbird building her nest on top of a fancy brick pillar under our patio earlier this year. We were a little concerned about if and when the Sun came out as, in another year, a previous occupant had been observed sitting on her brood, beak open, panting to cool down. When this year’s pair began arriving with small worms we realised that their eggs had hatched and enjoyed their antics from the dining room window – for a while! After a week or so, it had got to the point when we could just see tiny chicks’ heads reaching up to beg for bigger worms when things went wrong.
The male blackbird clambered his way through the hydrangea, almost to the nest, looking confused, not knowing what to do next. The poor chicks were reaching up at the slightest sound, even to the click of the back door opening, hungry and very stressed. But there was no sign of their mother. What to do we thought? Where could she be? Meanwhile the male made no effort to feed the chicks but flew at any other blackbirds in the garden to fight them off, to scare them away from his territory. Then we found a few feathers in one corner of the patio; no body but it looked very much as though one of the several unwelcome cats had “disposed” of this wonderful, feathered wildlife parent. What to do, indeed? The chicks were now even responding to a hand waving near to them – cheeping hungrily of course! If one of the 3 grey squirrels visited then the chicks may wind up being lunch for them!
My wife went online and tracked down the marvellous Lower Moss Wood Wildlife Hospital, in Knutsford, who agreed to take them on and, hopefully, raise them to adults. So, very carefully, we covered the nest with some soft dark material to calm them down, and then just as carefully transferred the nest plus 3 chicks to a shoe box. When we eventually found Lower Moss Wood Hospital two very kind and sympathetic ladies took charge of the nest. No doubt, as the baby birds are so young, one or other of these caring ladies would be losing some time late at night feeding them. It is a fantastic place, in a great natural setting, where they care for wild creatures of all kinds, foxes, badgers, hedgehogs etc, that may be injured or in need. I believe Sir Bobby Charlton is a patron of the charity.
Here is a link to the site and a short video of “our blackbird babies”: LMWWH
Hedgehogs are in serious decline in the UK. One thing that we can do to help them find food, find a mate and find new territory is make sure there is a small gap or hole at the base of garden fences. (About 12 to 15 cm square). The petition is to enable a law that requires this gap in all future new garden fences. Simple - but it could help save our hedgehogs!
Felicity and the Featherless Two-Foot by Loralee Evans
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Having previously read about “Felicity the Sparrow” I was curious to see what new adventure she was about to encounter in this book, always bearing in mind the interests of my grandchildren. It was pleasing to find the inclusion of several illustrations throughout the second story, which I found to be artistically charming regarding the depiction of the living creatures and fairies. For me, though, the buildings and backdrop scenery appeared to be a little too mathematically graphic, requiring some artistry to modify the “perfect” straight lines etc. It’s probably just me because I doubt the kids would notice.
Now to the story: I thought it was charming throughout, with humour aimed at adults and children, elements of pathos in bearable amounts for little ones and two major characters, in Felicity and Cairn, that one grows to love and care about right to the end of the tale. This story was full of imaginative ideas and situations for Felicity to cope with, like using a word processor and reluctantly accepting help from, the inevitably cheeky sparrow chum, Cairn. The delightful innocence of two sparrows, one who is literate and the other with a penchant for maths, comes through wonderfully – particularly when they are trying to communicate with a human being, one Mr Yellow Horse! I have no doubt that my grandchildren will love this story as much as the many more youngsters still to discover Loralee Evans’ book. We are even treated to some fairy magic near the end.
A criticism in practical terms would be to set the first line, at the start of each chapter, on the same level as the initial, very large, capital letter. I understand that it may be intended to add a different “interesting” bit of style but it could easily confuse struggling early readers in my opinion as an ex-teacher. The kindle version should have a digitally workable table of contents to improve the professional (expected) touch seen in most ebooks.
I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book so I could give an honest and objective review.
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