Two years ago, on Valentine’s Day, we had friends over to lunch. We spent much of the meal glued to the sight of a huge flock of greenfinch which had suddenly, and seemingly out of nowhere, descended to the garden, and specifically the bird table. It was food they were after, and they swooped, squabbled, jostled for position, selected seeds, came back for more, and generally monopolised the garden to the astonishment of the regular tits, wagtails, blackbirds, sparrows and robin.
On 15th February, we got up, eager for a repeat performance. But they’d gone. And they never came back.
We only realised they were here when over breakfast we heard ‘Bang!’ followed by ‘Bang!’ against the window. Two finches, one after the other, had hurtled – hard -against the glass, and we found them lying inert on the ground. We tiptoed round, knowing we had to leave them be, and hoped for the best. After ten minutes, one of them suddenly shook her head in surprise, ruffled her feathers, and flew off. The other never recovered.
The other greenfinches didn’t seem to care. All day they’ve been wheeling around, careering from sunflower seed feeder to peanut net, to grain dispenser, always feeding, feeding, dropping discarded shells and tiny crumbs onto the ground beneath, where all the birds, whether finches or regular residents, continued to scavenge all day.
I wonder if they’ll be there tomorrow?