Monday, 5 July 2010

Rich pickings

When I tied up at the jetty today the first thing Lynn said was, 'See what you make of this?'

She crouched on the patch of grass beside the bird table, reached forward - and a pair of young chaffinches hopped over and started taking seed from her outstretched hand. Then one of them allowed her to stroke the back of its neck. It was remarkable to watch, and bizarrely enough reminded me of when George the grey seal pup turned up at the cabin and made himself at home, two years ago now.

My own theory is that many animals are born fearless, quickly learn caution from their parents and peers for purposes of survival; and occasionally become fearless again later in life through interaction, acclimatisation etc. If you get there during that early stage, you're just another seal - or chaffinch. This pair were not long out of the nest, and clearly hadn't begun to listen to their mother, who was giving off enthusiastically (frantically, perhaps) from a high branch in the Scots pine beside the cabin.

Later, in an effort to show that we humans, and indeed foxes, sparrow hawks and others can't be trusted, Lynn tried making sudden movements and clapping her hands - but they just hopped off a few feet, changed their minds and hopped back.

They can both fly perfectly well, and have even joined their mother in the tree a few times, but the pickings are clearly richer down where Lynn is..

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