The lockdown all began so well. I would sit out in the garden and listen to the cacophony of sound as the birds fed and fought in the early evening. I congratulated myself on the way I had let some grass grow long so there would be more bees, butterflies and insects. Not for me the manicured lawn on which to practice putting or play croquet. There in front of my very eyes, and ears, was the result. There were robins, wrens, goldfinches, jackdaws, yellowhammers, pigeons, thrushes, blackbirds, a kestrel (or maybe sparrowhawk), and wagtails for a start. I felt that glow of self satisfaction that usually comes before everything falls apart. And so it did.
Birds are the enemy. We all know that swallows are tiny little creatures with two wings, two eyes and a beak and that they are entirely full of poop. I know that because at this time of the year, I have to park my car in a different place because they nest over my front door and deposit their excrement so that I have to wash the unfortunate vehicle nearly every day. I put up with it because it only lasts a few weeks.
These are the self same weeks when nature is giving yet another lesson, namely that weeds grow faster than anything you want to look at. They will take root absolutely anywhere. You can go the nature route and dig them out which is difficult on the physique as we are not supposed to spend hours bent over. Or you can spray them which, in the absence of napalm, I am happy to do. I have a sneaking suspicion that this is an environmental crime, but I do recycle. Unfortunately you only have to turn you back on weeds and there they have grown again.
Starlings are the avian equivalent of weeds. I hate them. Their Latin name is Sturnis Vulgaris and it is very suitable. Now and again people post videos of thousands of them doing a 'murmuration'. It looks spectacular. It would be more spectacular if someone had an anti-aircraft gun.
The first morning I heard noises in my roof I feared it was a rat. That would have meant a P45 for the cat. Eventually I opened the trapdoor and shone a torch around. There was an offending starling. I left the trapdoor open and eventually it flew out and disappeared through the window. After a while I figured out that the pesky bird had pecked away the cover where the fan from the bathroom expelled air and was using that route. I blocked it up.
Next week I find that they have pecked a hole in the eaves and are in again. I gave up. I will repair it when the virus retreats. Going up a long ladder alone in the country is unwise. At the very least, you need a monkey holding the bottom and I don't have one.
I had resigned myself to defeat by the starlings when the swallows, or swifts perhaps, made their return. I noticed a few of them in cahoots with starlings over one of my sheds and I should have known something was up. I paid no attention. About three days later, I see the swifts flying in and out of a hole over the shed door. They had presumably sub-contracted the starlings. Sure enough, there was the beginnings of a nest, positioned right over my beautifully polished Harley. I blocked the hole and nothing gave me more pleasure than watching them fly up to it for the next few days and look mystified until they gave up. They did persevere, and then decided to go back to the spot where their ancestors had built nests and destroy my car instead.
I am with Alfred Hitchcock. If these creatures turn on me, I am in deep trouble. They have a lot more resilience than I have, and no apparent conscience. I am also with Charles Darwin. If it is survival of the fittest, I have a battle on my hands. Take my word for it. Long after humans are extinct, starlings will rule the world. Oh, and viruses.
Sunday Indo Living