A couple of days ago I was presented with a decision that wasn’t easy to make. It was one of those ‘head-having-to-rule-the-heart’ situations.
I was in the greenhouse (which is situated, on one side, about a foot from the neighbour’s conifer hedge) trying to track down a caterpillar that had holed one of my courgette plants, when all hell broke loose and a blackbird, in her manic attempt to escape, hit the glass before flying off clacking wildly.
As my startled eyes narrowed they focused on Chea, hanging in the hedge, back legs trailing, and her head stuffed into a nest. My first reaction was to scream, ‘Chea!’ So I did.
This had the desired effect and amid a shower of dead conifer debris she dropped to the ground. I bolted outside and chastised her, which as usual, was massively ineffective. She rolled onto her back and purred. I seriously think that this cat is stoned half of the time. I often catch her rolling deliriously in the cat mint, rubbing her head against the sprouting stems and giving it the occasional chomp. She even has a kind of swaying, ‘hey man, I’m stoned,’ look about her as she dawdle’s off up the garden with butterflies circling her head. I’m not sure if I’m imagining the butterflies – but I can honestly vouch to never touching the cat mint.
I hurried back into the greenhouse and peered through the glass. My heart dropped into my wellies as I spied a perfectly formed nest, awaiting the laying of eggs. I didn’t need last year’s horror played out in my memory cells, because I remembered it all too well – Chea, raiding a robin’s nest and systematically bringing back fledglings, one a day for 3 days. The horror and hopelessness of it will remain with me forever. Tiny birds, too young to leave the nest, half alive.
As I stood staring at the nest, imagining the eggs like they were the Devil’s spawn, I knew in my heart how it was going to play out. Mrs Blackbird would sit on the eggs, half-starved in her coma-like state, waiting and listening for her babies chipping at their shells. Then she’d exhaust herself with dozens of trips to neighbouring gardens to find sustenance for her brood. And then, she would return and there would be 2 left…and then 1….and then none. Chea would have had them all. My head had to rule my heart.
I stropped back to the house and fetched Richard to survey the potential hopelessness of the scene, and after a few moments – and after I’d reacquainted him with last year’s slaughter – he agreed that we had to take the nest away. At least, at this stage she had only built a nest. She hadn’t put her heart and soul into rearing chicks to have them taken.
It wasn’t an easy task. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it and so Richard, who is most definitely wider than a foot, had to squeeze down the narrow gap between the hedge and the greenhouse. It was dreadful and I expected him to go through the glass at any stage. But he managed, somehow.
Of course, my earlier bawling at Chea had brought out the neighbour, and I think he was watching from a distance, behind his rather pretentious runner bean wigwam, waiting for the blood to run. Fortunately, his weird pleasures weren’t fed.
I am now on blackbird watch. If I see the merest attempt at nesting within my garden I shall shoo her away. I must say though, that I’ve never known more stupid birds than blackbirds. They just pick a spot and move in. They obviously see Chea hunting the boundaries, half-stoned, with bees and butterflies circling her tabby bonce – and being a cat, and doing cat-like things – and yet they nest barely off the ground and in her territory.
I know that I’m banging my head against a very big wall expecting Chea to be anything other than a cat, and in fairness to her she isn’t a tunnel-visioned hunter. But then, after she’s been on the cat mint I guess she’s too ‘out there man’ to bother.
Take care my lovelies x
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