A Sad Story

A couple of months ago a pair of blackbirds established themselves in my garden. They were a distinctive pair. She has a pale patch at her throat, that makes her recognisable from any other female blackbird. I soon learned to pick him, not from his normal appearance, but by his behaviour. He was fearless. In the early days if I approached he would duck behind a bush, or low-hanging leaves. After a while he just stood his ground, chest out defiantly staring me in the eye. They built their nest in the bay bush outside my kitchen window. Although they were secretive I occasionally saw straw being taken in. Once I saw him taking a bunch of worms in and was surprised that they could have chicks already. Now I suspect he was feeding her.

Then one morning I found a dead blackbird on the road outside the gate. Was it him? After several days I decided that it was. The blackbird in my garden now is shy. He flies away even when I’m some way off. His mate is ordinary, and they have a noisy fledgling.

The pale-throated female is still around, but she has lost her confidence and sneaks about. I wondered if she would take on the job of solo parent. Yesterday I saw the male going into the bay bush, which was puzzling.  Today I rummaged into the thick bush. I found the nest abandoned and the eggs broken.

Mantis Diary 5.  See extra shot. This nymph has been living on the parsley in the greenhouse for the last 7 weeks. I think it is in its second instar, that is, it has cast its skin once. The dark stripe along the back has gone and already there’s a hint of the wings and wingcases. It measures 15mm.

Hatching of nymphs continues, but there are still a lot of ootheca that are yet to hatch. I rarely see a nymph. This one on the parsley is the only one I have been able to track, but this is the first decent shot I have been able to get of it. All that green.

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