Wednesday 13 June 2012: Otter totem
I had a very sad start to the morning. Last night, before I went to bed, I heard Mr and Mrs Blackbird yelling and yelling, and saw a cat silhouette in the hedge. I was torn between interfering and leaving well alone, conscious that human interference could make things worse. When the yelling stopped, I hoped for the best, but this morning there was no movement in the nest. I couldn't see the parent birds either. If the chicks were alive, the parents would be darting back and forth with food. I eventually spotted Mrs Blackbird on nextdoor's roof and Mr Blackbird in the apple tree, but they were perched and not moving. This wasn't a good sign. I headed out for a closer look and found one of the chicks on the flowerbed. It was physically intact, poor thing, but the fall and fright must have killed it. Oh it broke my heart. Those parents worked so hard to raise the chicks and in the space of ten minutes, nextdoor's killer cat had destroyed the whole brood. I hope Mr and Mrs Blackbird can find a new nesting spot and that there's time and energy to raise another few chicks this year. Unfortunately, they have to content with humans, cats and foxes. It must be so hard.
On a positive note, I spotted several fledged sparrows enjoying the bird feeder today and there was an abundance of life at the London Wetland Centre, where I met a friend for tea, amazing biscuits and a catch-up. It cheered me immensely. The sun came out for us, too, as we walked over to meet the newest members of the Wetlands - the otters. We saw nothing at first, then we spied one slipping into the water, but she darted out and up the hill behind the trees where we saw her silhouette galloping along the fence. The great thing about their enclosure is that there are lots of places to hide so you really have to be lucky to see the otters. When we returned to the otters on our way out, we saw three of them. They followed each other nose to tail up and down the stream, moving almost as one unit. They're fabulous characters.
I walked from Barnes to Southfields for my swimming lesson. It was a really lovely walk that was mostly off-road through tree-lined paths. It took a little over an hour - a perfect warm-up for the pool. In big swimming news, I completed a whole length of breaststroke and it felt quite easy. I've really struggled with this stroke, but perhaps I've really nailed it this time. I even gave a 'Whoop!' when I reached the other side. Fab!