The light on Friday was again gorgeous and warm. For the first time in months, I was able to work in just a short-sleeved shirt. And trousers.
|Sunlight playing through the willows on the west pond
During my breaks from mowing the east lawn,
|A corner of the east lawn with the rock border and greenhouse beyond
I surreptitiously slipped into the laundry room at the back of the Priory. From here (with flask of Earl Grey and Boost-bar to hand), through an open window and being very quiet, I kept a beady eye on who was visiting the bird feeders.
As always – Charles. Stuffing himself on very expensive bird food. He’s pretty much moved into the garden and lives off the scatterings made by other birds from our two seed feeders and two nut feeders. What with his scratching about, he makes an awful mess of the lawn. I’ve had to fix two unlovely plastic trays under the seed feeders to limit how much food drops on to the ground below. Charles was furious.
I’ve become rather fond of Charles. If I startle him (easily done), he sprints off at speed like a soft lad velociraptor. He rarely flies. Maybe he’s getting a little too heavy. Too much fine dining. During the recent pheasant shooting season when the surrounding fields were awash with Barbour, tweed and spaniel, I would silently yell at him to stay within its safe confines. Beyond the Priory’s fencing and hedges was bloody pheasant slaughter.
The feeders have been specially devised to trap Blue Tits. And jolly successful they are too! Whilst the Tits can get in easily enough, once they have eaten their full they are too fat to fly out again (see the two above). They are kept in these fattening cages* for several days until they have reached a desired plumpness. Skewered onto satay sticks and lightly flamed over charcoal (no need to pluck or bone) they are served with a chilli-peanut sauce. Very, very tasty. And delightfully crunchy.**
In the above picture I’ve managed to capture a Long-tailed Tit. Another one has smelt a rat and prepares to fly off (before he gets too fat),
leaving his disconsolate and frightened chubby friend behind. He needn’t be frightened. Long-tailed Tits (as everyone knows) have an unpleasant fishy flavour and do not make good eating. He will be released from the fattening cage. It is only Blue Tits that I’m after. And of course Great Tits – if I can get them.
Great Tits obviously have more meat to them than Blue Tits (and a richer, more intense flavour) but they are a cannier quarry. Above, one is eyeing the trap with suspicion,
but sensing danger flies off. Damn.
Later, however, unable to resist the free grub, he’s back. Got him. Happy days!
A regular visitor is this Great Spotted Woodpecker – though sadly he is too big to enter the fattening cage. I shall need to build a bigger woodpecker fattening cage. Wonder what they taste like?
and Robins are all regular visitors (and easily caught) but are of no culinary interest. Shame. Ooh, look. I’ve caught another Blue Tit.
* Patent pending
** The Editorial Staff at theanxiousgardener.blogspot.com would like to stress that we do not condone the trapping, fattening and eating of titmice (or indeed any British garden birds). Furthermore we suspect such practice may be illegal.