Devon in snow, our bird watching through the kitchen door.

March 2nd 2018 by Marian van der Veen. 


Just when I write the title of this journal, the first notes of Nessun Dorma begin to fill the next room and now reach my ears, while sitting on a chair in front of the kitchen door.

“Ma il mio mistero è chiuso in me …..   Il nome mio nessun saprà!”

Here I am, Friday March 2nd 2018, with the cats at my feet, wide awake, looking at the birds feeding in the garden. It’s a proper theater, now that there’s 5 inches of snow in the garden and many species of birds, eager to eat at the bird-feeders and picking grains on the snow under them.

Twinkle and Tiggy, boy and girl

I see an expressive white, grey and black little bird with a long tail, running over the snow without visible legs and its head and beak going back and forth when walking, which is called “beach-walker” in Holland. Is it called beach-comber, in the UK?

I see a bird of the size of a blackbird, with a brown back and top of the head, and a pattern of specks going from below the eyes to its breast, in dark brown and beige.      The wings are in dark brown and beige stripes and the legs are bright orange with black nails. I believe that bird has a beautiful voice.

That bird, unknown by name to me, dares to come close to the kitchen door, for the meal-worms which I threw on the porch just outside the door, after clearing it a little from snow, so that the bird-food would be visible and easy to pick. Little did I know of the ice-crust on the snow, created last night, holding the bird-food.

Never did I think of the cats, sitting behind the kitchen door, looking through their cat-portal-window, with pricked ears, suddenly crouching and every now and then, preparing for… the catch…? Almost. The 3 cats, living with me, are all 15 years old and only today I watch them in a state of excitement, with their predator instinct awake.  

The birds are too quick and alert. Before the cat is through the cat-portal they’re gone, fortunately. This afternoon, when I pulled on my wellies at the front door, to make a brave walk to a road-stall with eggs and marmalade, I heard a bump against the window of the front door. A little bird lay on the snow, breathing fast, hiding its head in its feathers, hopefully recovering from a slight concussion. Five minutes later it was gone and I felt relieved.

Returning from a successful quest for eggs, after about 30 minutes, walking down the driveway to the porch, laughing while trying to step in my own footsteps… oh la la, the little bird was lying in one of them! I placed the eggs on the snow and took the poor creature in my gloved hands, holding it for a while, warming it.

The little bird began to move in my hand and I decided to place it in the pot with the palm, after I removed the snow from the soil. I walked inside, shook the snow of my wellies and took a sample from my tuns with sheep-wool and brought it to the bird,       so that it could sit on it and recover in warmth, hopefully.

Here’s where I found the sparrow.

I placed a little heap of grains next to it and left it to itself. After a while, I walked to the front door, to check on the bird. It had flown down to the ground and sat there, quietly.   I had to let it go, whatever its fate and a few minutes later it was flat on its side.

I walked to it and took it in my hands, the body was still soft and I blew my breath over it, while taking it inside. I had a tiny hope that it could come to its senses, but no, it had gone. Its eyes were open, but lifeless. Now, it’s on my table in the sitting room. I’m keen on keeping the door shut.

As soon as the soil is visible and soft, I’ll bury the little bird in the garden. I think it’s a sparrow, there’s a beautiful bronze colored sheen on its wings. And when I took it in my hands, tiny snow crystals were covering its beautiful wings, like little jewels. Now, the little bird can fly as high as it wants.

The later bird-watching is a great comfort and joy, there are a few unknown species, visiting the bird-feeders. Oh, there’s a bird, the size of a starling, with a speckled breast in brown and white, an orange-red streak on its sides and a light brown back. The face is funny, a proper mask with striking white lines above and dark brown lines below its eyes.

At this moment, Twinkle and Tiggy are both sitting at my feet (see picture above). I see them from the back, looking intently at the birds. Silent and patient. Their heads move simultaneously, following the movements of the birds outside, it’s very funny to watch them. How focused they can be! As if there’s a thread moving from their eyes to the observed object.

Jessy, sister of Tiggy, is watching Twinkle and Tiggy.

Also, when I’m in the kitchen, moving around, I can feel their eyes on me, when it’s near feeding time. Those looks can be very intense, at times. Even uncomfortable. When that’s the case, I break the spell by singing to them, or stroking them for a moment.

I assume their manners are grown from habit, in the 15 years of their long cat life and due to my experience with cats, for many years of my life, I’m aware of the fact that the feline nature is a predator one. They’re simply true to their nature, they don’t know of another way of being.

By now, it is 17:53 pm and dusk enters the garden. When I look outside, there’s a single red robin, hopping below the bird-feeders. The many blue tits, black caps and sparrows have gone to their night-shelters, I suppose. The black bird couples have gone too.   

I think I’ve come to the end of my winter- journal. Oh, a second red robin is taking its chances! Clever birds!  That’s it for now, thank you for reading this journal and be well!

The moment you look away she’ll throw the snowball!








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Marian B.

I'm a creative and resourceful woman, never too old to be young, living between the Sea and the Moors, spinner of wool, weaver of words, a rainbow in the clouds.

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