The Princess’s operation went well and she was safely back home with us the same day. After a trying weekend where we struggled to get any food or water down her, she went from strength to strength and was soon telling us in no uncertain terms that having one eye wasn’t a problem but she really needed to go out now to make sure that nobody had taken over her hunting grounds during her recovery. Unfortunately she has to wait for 10 days until the stitches come out. Poor Calamity has been the victim of her frustrations, as the Princess has a terrible habit of taking these things out on her long-suffering sister, thinking nothing of administering a swift slap as she goes past, just because she can.
To make it worse, the local birds seem intent on highlighting her helplessness as much as they can. Sparrows are nesting in the eaves at the front of the house and, with the curtains closed, we are regularly treated to our own shadow puppet show, as they sit, squabble and even make love on the telephone wires which run along the house. Both cats are fascinated and, as they can only see shadows, they don’t realise that the birds are safely outside. Before her op, we found the Princess biting the curtain one morning and last week Calamity tried to actually climb up the curtain to get them. She probably hasn’t climbed curtains since kittenhood and, now being a fairly solid 14 year old, she remained true to her name and fell off the curtain with a crash.
At the back, the blackbirds are becoming increasingly brazen, strutting about the lawn even as Calamity is watching from under the hedge. Occasionally she is moved to have a half-hearted attempt to catch them but mostly she just watches, seemingly happy to share her space. We have blackbird nests in the Pampas grass and in a tree next door near the boundary, as well as lots of smaller birds’ nests in the hedges, and the parent birds are all feeding in the grass in the flower garden, getting closer and closer to the house. One thing is for sure, they will need to be much more alert once the Princess is back on garden watch later this week.
We are enjoying watching the blackbirds particularly while they are making the most of the garden. Blackbirds are such fantastic parents, aren’t they? I am touched by their care: the patient hunt for food, the way both parents stay close when the baby finally fledges and learns to forage in the lawn for itself and their determination to protect the family at all costs. I saw one male chase a sparrowhawk away from his nest this week, screaming defiance as he went.
One thing we have realised is that we can’t always blame the cats for digging in the beds. The other day we watched fascinated up in the kitchen garden as a male blackbird scraped a hole so deep in the potato bed that he exposed the plants. I hope the worms he found were worth it, as we had to go and earth up our potatoes all over again when he had finished. He was back at the weekend, delighted to discover that we had removed some turf from the lawn in the flower garden to create a new bed. He didn’t even wait for us to finish – he was inches away from us as he pulled worms from the exposed soil. Initially, he fed himself and then he started to collect worms to take back to the family. I have never seen one bird fit so many worms into its beak before. Finally, when he couldn’t fit another one in, he flew away but was soon back looking for more. I tried to explain to him that we needed some worms for ourselves, to help pull the manure and compost into the soil to enrich it for our new plants but he took no notice.
Close by, the Calamity Cat snoozed peacefully in the sun, oblivious, while the Princess sat on the kitchen windowsill and cried to join us. She will be back outside very soon and, while we are happy that she has made such a good recovery, we hope that she isn’t intent on making up for lost time. We will need to be vigilant, both to make sure that she adapts well as she climbs and jumps and also to protect as much wildlife as we can.