Imagine, if you will, the scene in my garden a little earlier today: Three starlings having fun in the birdbath, two pigeons under a feeder and a crow in the feeder. The feeder is designed for smaller birds but the crow manages to squeeze in. You may think that his actions are pure greed and opportunism. I prefer to consider the possibility that he just does not want to be discriminated against, which also goes for the jay, who visits occasionally and prefers the same squeeze.
You may have noticed that I called the crow a “he”, whereas most people would call him an “it”. I have always called animals he or she. I think it is more personal. By sheer coincidence I moved to an area some years ago, where they even call every inanimate object a “he”. It is considered very rural and simple.
In another corner, three gold finches feasting on the niger seed and in the large tree by the French doors, a woodpecker with her offspring. Our garden is great for wildlife, but our wildlife can be demanding.
Another pigeon on the roof, looking very glossy and staring at me through the window with one eye, his left. I know the look.“Are you going to put out any more food or what?”
To the left, a pheasant having a dust bath in his DIY quarry in my lawn. Scrap the lawn, grassy area. I do not have a lawn – I have hedges and trees, shrubs and flowers, an overgrown rockery and a romantic pond; and grassy areas. This is not a manicured garden, it is a wildlife friendly garden.
I recognise the pheasant, he is the very friendly individual, who lets me feed him by hand. He is also in the habit of following me around the garden. I reckon he enjoys my calm manner and my company. Or perhaps he just likes my looks. I was contacted by someone on facebook the other day, who said that she would like to get to know me better, so it is not inconceivable.
By the time I am out in the garden, armed with my camera around my neck and some bird food in my hand, he is gone. I can hear him in the field next door, clucking away. Do pheasants coo or cluck?
“Pheasant, come o-on … pheasant! Lu-unch!”, I call, oblivious of the embarrassment if my neighbours hear me. He does not mind what I say as long as he can hear my voice. And he comes, “my” pheasant, scrambling through the hedge.
He runs up to me, stops, looks, then tucks into the bird food. He is still a little nervous of the camera and difficult to focus on because he just won’t keep his head still. I have to switch the tele lens to macro mode, he is so close. I am not a wildlife photographer. I cannot whip out two flashes at the sight of a rare bird flapping his wings at a miniature snake and have finished before the bird makes off. I have to go at a slower pace.
Once we have overcome the minor issue of his hyperactive head, I bet that my very friendly pheasant will make an excellent model. He shows a lot of potential.