Arnside and beyond

By gladders

Stretch

This is Robin's first appearance in this journal.  Here she was stretching up to get a clearer view of something over my shoulder.  She has been with us since the end of May when she was still in juvenile plumage.  There's nothing remarkable about that as robins are very common birds, and most of our English gardens have them.  But this bird is more distinctive in her behaviour than most.

I say her, but in truth we don't know if she's male or female.  On a recent visit, Birdie Ronnie reminded me that not only are the sexes indistinguishable in their plumage, but also that both sexes sing and have their own territories at this time of year.

For a while we didn't hear Robin sing loudly, she would perch on this post or somewhere else nearby and serenade us with a quiet sub-song, her bill closed and only the ruffling of throat feathers showing that it was her.

Robins are generally known as the gardener's friend, confiding in their behaviour with people, often close by when we dig our gardens, quick to dip down and pick up the insects and small worms that we unearth.  But Robin approaches closer than any other bird I have known.  When we sit in the garden, she does fly-bys so close that you almost feel the touch of feathers on cheek or ear.  When I was digging out the compost bin, I had to be careful to avoid her with the spade, and she would disappear into the top of the bin itself, then emerging through the low hatchway from which I was extracting the compost.

In a few months time when the robins are paired up, we may eventually know whether she really is a she.  Until then Robin is a suitably androgynous name for him/her.

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