| Our garden's blackbirds started their nest-building early this year|
|The blackbirds that breed in our garden got an early start this year, beginning their nest-building well before the other birds. Unlike last year when the young were fed out on the lawn, the parents were incredibly secretive this time, choosing to feed them within the tangle of shrubs and making it difficult to know just how many chicks they had raised.|
For their second brood the pair have abandoned the original nest and turned their attention to the other side of the garden. We came upon the new nest, far from where we thought it to be, quite by chance while hauling invading goosegrass from the undergrowth. Perhaps 18 inches from the ground, the nest was lodged securely among the lowest branches of an ancient fuchsia. Beautifully formed, the cup perfectly shaped and lined, the nest was, at that time, empty. But on a warm afternoon a couple of days later, having spotted the female foraging on the lawn, we took a quick look and found within it five blue-green eggs, their more rounded ends mottled with brown. This side of the garden is a popular spot – a pair of song thrushes has been so active there that we at first thought the nest might have belonged to them, and a couple of greenfinches bearing insects are constantly diving into the flower-laden New Zealand holly on their way to an as-yet unlocated nest.
But natural sites seem to be the preferred choice and our attempts to provide other options have met with no approval. The nest box we conveniently sited to be viewed from the kitchen window achieved only a cursory examination and prompt dismissal by a house sparrow, while the swallow box tucked beneath the eaves of the byre fared no better. A pair of swallows did, though, choose to nest in a nearby shed – and then rubbed salt in our wounds by lining up their fledged young to be fed on the byre roof directly above the box we'd so hopefully provided.