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Arnside and beyond

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Friday 3 February 2012: Matriarch

Waiting for breakfast.

This is the sight that greets me every morning as I open the back door and take out the ground food for the birds. This is of course The Boss, the hen blackbird who first featured in this journal last year on 3rd of January. She waits on the shed roof, watching me in the utility room through the frosted glass of the door.

I've come to love this bird, perhaps as much as Emyjane loves her robin Little Larry. She is so bold, so confiding, and so dominant over all of the other blackbirds, including the males. A blackbird matriarch to the extended blackbird family. And what a family, this morning I counted at least 14 that descended as soon as the food went out. It's difficult to keep an accurate tally as there is a lot of squabbling and jockeying for position as they gobble the dried fruit in the food mix. In truth, this won't be a family, there are birds that are resident, such as The Boss, and others that are wintering with us, probably from the continent.

There was a time last year when we thought that her tameness had been her undoing. Poor Bob the cat was blamed as the assassin, then a few days later she turned up again, unmistakably her. And Bob has been declared innocent, he takes no interest any more in the birds of the garden while the garden is visited occasionally by another cat that clearly is interested.

I didn't venture too far today, I'm still below par, and Wifie has been confined to bed for most of the day. The prolonged frost continues and the estuary is freezing at the edges, and now we have snow forecast for tomorrow.

The colour of the background, by the way, is the colour of the stone and render on our neighbour's gable wall.

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      blackbird

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