Today I had a neat little adventure. Today I was in a supermarket and there was a hive of activity with the staff gathered at various locations. And then I saw someone tossing a box across the floor, as though trying to land it on something. It was only when I spotted a bobble-like object leap into the air, that I realised what was going on. A little Robin (the European Robin – Erythacus rubecola) had entered the store yesterday (or maybe even longer ago) and had either stayed or become stuck indoors.
The staff were doing everything they could, but couldn’t catch it. After getting my shopping I took a trip down to Birdwatch Ireland‘s HQ in Kilcoole to tell them about it. Unfortunately Birdwatch can’t do anything about ‘animal control’ issues, but they suggested the best course would be to leave the bird alone and leave the doors open and the Robin would find its way out. Attempting to catch the bird could lead to it being injured, especially without the proper equipment. I decided to drive back to the supermarket and tell them Birdwatch Ireland‘s opinion.
On the way back I suddenly remembered that Robins hate anything red, assuming it to be another Robin, and often attacking it after an initial inspection. If it moves, all the better. So when I got back the staff found a pair of bright red boots furry, and the robin appeared almost immediately and we were able to lead it to the door, and eventually get it out, as I tried to whistle my best imitation of a Robin’s call (it was awful, but seemed to work to some degree).
The whole red boot operation took less than five minutes, which was quite an achievement when you consider the bird had been there at least one day and nothing else had worked. It’s great when a plan works.
Right now, all over Wicklow, fledgling birds are learning the art of survival from their parents. It’s a tricky time for them, with dangers everywhere, not least from people driving too fast on very narrow roads where nobody in their right mind should dare drive fast. How does this world of ours appear to a bird? We always look at things from a human-centred viewpoint, but how do they see it, and how do they see us?
Most of these little birds have no fear of us. They have not learned to fear us. And there’s something sad about the fact that they will learn to fear, because we human beings are a threat to them, even when we don’t mean to be.
I was fascinated by a Robin I saw perched on a rock in my garden. It was hoping I had some food for it, watching patiently, when suddenly an airplane flew low overhead, causing the Robin to cock its head up to watch the big strange ‘bird’. I wonder what the Robin thought of this plane. It certainly didn’t seem afraid, so maybe it knows it’s another of the many human vehicles. I got a quick but bad shot, leaving the Robin out of focus, but think the behaviour is interesting enough to include it here.
This year our spring is really dragging its heels, but that’s what makes it so special. Beautiful flowers, such as the Bluebells, which normally flower for a brief and spectacular few days in late April and early May, are still blooming away right now. And there seems to be more of them than usual. You can tell them apart from the interloping garden escapee, the Spanish Bluebell, by their subtle and pleasant fragrance, which the Spanish Bluebell lacks.
This year everything is slow to come, and slow to go, so maybe it gives us more time to enjoy it all. There is certainly a dearth of moths and butterflies, but still some significant ones are around. Of the moths, keep your eyes open for the Angles Shades, which resembles dry leaves, but has a tendency to perch on walls and fences, where it does stick out, once you realise it is a moth, not leaves.
Also look out for the Shoulder-stripe, a moth which is camouflaged to look like Turkey-tail fungus and which tends to come to the lights in windows, where it can be found at rest during the day.
The Shoulder-stripe looks very like bark fungus. This one is just one of two variations of this moth.
During the spring there are, of course, many bird species to see. Many of these birds are insect hunters and it is mostly to fool these creatures that moths need their terrific camouflage.