So where's the snow?

Muddling through in Austria; God, life and a small black dog


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Those Sparrows

They saw that I’d been busy, weeding and topping at the soil on my flower bed.They know also that the supply of seeds has run out and all I have is Sunflower seeds and peanuts, which they struggle with.  So what do they do, they chose a nice afternoon and spend it making earth baths in the soil, they’ll be expecting me to do it every year now!


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Birds – Swallows passing through

Had real trouble getting this in focus, I suppose I really ought to put the glasses on!

We’ve just enjoyed another Bank Holiday and have Whitsun to come. Such a shame I was lame with my bad foot, we could have had a walk in the mountains, still it’s getting better.  Yet if we had, I’d have missed these Swallows passing through.  They really did look  a bit tired and manky.

It reminded me of when I worked at  the Fortune Centre of Riding therapy – maybe these guys were on their way there.  They would nest in the stables and you’d have to duck as the feeding parents would hurtle in and out through the stable doors.  I even got a disruptive student interested in counting the nests and babies.  Once the fledglings were out, they would rest on the lights in the stables, waiting to be fed, we would then have several weeks of the horses having white spotted backs.  Quiet early evenings would have the yard filled with swooping birds and then with regret we’d watch them sitting on the electricity lines to fly home in the autumn.

However, my most enduring memory is of one early summer morning when I rode my horse Monty out and across onto what in the New Forest is called a green – an open area of grass, free from other vegetation.  As we cantered, the Swallows came and flew around and through Monty’s legs, catching the insects as they rose.  Monty of course took absolutely not notice, it was wonderful!


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More bird watching mysteries

Siskin or Serin?

I still think there’s something up with the birds in the Lungau.  Usually in April my table and the ground under it are cleared by Jays and a Lesser spotted woodpecker and I’ve yet to see them.  There’s a few more Green finches, occasional Chaffinches  and a beautiful Siskin who comes every evening.  There’s even more Marsh tits than usual, who sit in lilac bush while I’m pegging our washing and shout for food.  The usual Sparrows and Great tits and Blue tits are here though. The Blackbirds are singing like there’s no tomorrow in the evenings which is wonderful.

They are all going mad for the fat, I’ve never seen the Sparrows go for fat balls but they are permanently on them, likewise they are trying to get the peanuts out of the feeder, where I thought their beaks aren’t the right shape for such feeding.  Edith has also noticed less birds this year, and she’s on the other side of the Lungau.  Could it just be that they knew the bad winter was coming and all flew further afield?  I’ve a great respect for the instinct of any aninmal over humans!

I’ve also noticed one of the Great Tits has a white streak on the back of its head, like a coal tit, but its feathers are blue and yellow, most odd, I’m trying to get a picture of it!

The birds are also feeding far more in the evenings, where as usually its the mornings.  I suppose I’ll go on putting stuff out but tail it off towards the end of the month. Still, they’ll all soon be nesting if not already, and then they’ll disappear to the mountains in May – or maybe not!


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Cuckoo in the nest?

We’ve just had a wonderful hot phase here, practically every blade of grass cut for hay by the farmers (ok, that’s an exaggeration!)  and wonderful weather for when Dave’s lot came.  They finally understand our decision to move here when we took them up into the mountains and showed them around. They left vowing to return when there was snow!

This Sunday, when we went out into the garden we were assailed by loud chirping (for want of a better word) from a tree in the garden, right by the swing seat.  This conical conifer is called Wizbit after a kids programme we used to watch.  Anyway, the cacophony was still going on in the evening, and it quickly began to shred my nerves.  Is it I’m getting older and can’t stand noise?  Maybe.  But the noise was distress.  Had a clutch of birds lost both parents and were starving to death?  We looked into the tree but couldn’t see them.  Dave firmly shut the door on them.  Overnight it rained and they were quieter.  However by the evening they were yelling again and no sign of visiting parents.  I was in a dilemma.  I could get a ladder and rescue them, to hand rear them.  But such birds are often not thrifty and become too reliant on humans.  The thought of them slowly dying of hunger was equally abhorent.So I left them guiltily on Sunday night.  The chirps were still going as I left for work and when I got back.  Now I was really upset.  I tried again to see them in the tree but they are too high.  Dave said I was just being daft, the noise wasn’t jangling in his nerves, it was just birds singing to him ( oaf!).  I didn’t know what was the best to do.I prayed to God to show me and common sense was saying leave them be.  How could I neglect a so obvious call for help? It was tearing me apart this helplessness.

 Then later I stood at the front door and in flew a brown bird obviously into the nest to feed.  I’ve never felt such a sudden lift in my spirits.  There was a lot of row from the tree and the bird flew off.  Had it attacked the babies, or was it just another bird?  I was so silly at what was so apparent. I wanted to see the bird again but didn’t last night.  Then this morning a sparrow flew to the top of Wizbit and stared at me as I hung out the washing.  and stayed there till I went, and a few moments after, then it flew into the nest and was obviously feeding the babies.  Alleluyah!  It’s still a bit odd, nestlings aren’t usually so darn loud.  That’s what had alerted me.  Maybe it really was a rescue by another bird after the parent’s death?  They are quieter today, maybe as its now rained there’s more insects about.  Three weeks or more of this racket to come but now I hear it was joy!  I can’t help feeling this has some import on my life, there’s a lesson here that will become clear soon.  We have a meeting this weekend about starting housegroups in the area, which could be one of the purposes of God in bringing us here. It will become clear.    I’ve just read on the internet that cuckoos often choose sparrows nests to lay their eggs and the nestlings have a ferocious appetite, that sparrow did look a bit ragged….

Update: The fledgeling flew the next day, I could hear it sqwawking all around the garden and at one stage it was in the hedge.  Still don’t know if it was a cuckoo!