Taking a leaf from my neighbour’s gardening technique, I have embraced the neglectful method of gardening. The theory being that supplying the seed is as far as you need to exert yourself. “Once the seed is sown, it’s on its own.”

I had previously followed a creed that allowed for areas of the garden to be left to their own devices, but for the rest to be micro-managed, clipped, cut and combed. Whilst my neighbour applauded my wild patches, he has now convinced me of the need for “joined up” neglect. So the whole plot now looks like a meadow.

But it has paid dividends with as many as a dozen bird species breeding or attempting to breed in my overgrown wasteland. Causing the most delight are the European Robins who have been bred here before, but who are commonly predated by the European Magpies. The magpies are feeding four chicks this year and have taken a heavy toll on my small songbirds.

I had first seen the slim mottled chick a few days before, but it wisely kept to the big beech hedge where it could evade the magpies and my camera. Now, more bold and partly self-sufficient, it was venturing out and exploring beneath the willow tree.

As it waited for a parent to return with some food, it picked through the leaf litter to see if it could find something for itself. In response to a high squeak, it hopped towards the grass where it was joined by another chick. Two chicks! I was so proud.

Lady Helen teased me for being so puffed up about my breeding sucess. “But you haven’t done anything” she sneered.




Written by Redgannet
Redgannet has been working for over 33 years as a crew member/flight attendant and enjoys the well-ventilated air of the outdoors. The nom de blog, Redgannet, was adopted to add an air of mystery and to make himself more attractive to women. His father first whetted Redguga's appetite for all things natural by buying him his first pair of 7x35s and a copy of Thorburn's Birds. Having no mentor beyond an indulgent parent, he spent the first season hoping for an Egyptian Vulture at the bird table in his English garden. His most memorable birding moment is seeing an Egyptian Vulture with those same binoculars 26 years later. Redgannet is married to Canon, but his heart and half of his house belongs to Helen and their son Joseph. He is looking forward to communicating with people who don't ask if he is searching for the "feathered variety" of bird.