Since March, the garden has started to come back to life. First, spring flowers like daisies and daffodils made an appearance. The frogs returned to the pond to spawn, and the tadpoles have been getting bigger and doing whatever it is that tadpoles do as they go about their metamorphosis. More recently, the constant to-ing and fro-ing of small garden birds has been added into the mix.
The most visible are the robins, zipping back and forth from bushes to feeder, and occasionally pouncing on the grass to grab a worm, invisible to my eyes, but which they retrieve with the accuracy of an eagle. The latter are for their chicks; all of the birds are currently scanning the garden for worms, caterpillars, and other juicy morsels that are the perfect protein packets for growing nestlings. The parents rely on the feeder for themselves, grabbing a high-energy hit from the fat balls or suet to keep themselves going while keeping to the demanding feeding schedule of their young.
At my last house, my office window overlooked a patch of garden and, at my last job, I worked from home a few days a week. This allowed me to watch the comings and goings of the birds in even greater detail than I can at present, and provided a ringside seat when it came time for the fledglings to leave the nest. They would stay close to the feeder, but still expected their parents to feed them. Constantly. In photos, the chicks look bigger than the adults and it is not just a trick of the light or perspective.
The robins are particularly interesting as they look nothing like the birds they will later become. They are drab brown, with Dagwood-esque tufts of feathers on their head, and a downturned mouth that makes them look like they disapprove of the world and everything in it. The colour difference is to prevent adults from killing the next generation. Robins are highly territorial and will attack when they see red, so it takes several months for them to develop their distinctive red breast. That mouth, their gape, is a target for their parents to put food in. It will gradually fade as they age.
Although I no longer have such a privileged view on the happenings within the garden, this time of year always reminds me to slow down and keep an eye out for the little things in life.