Monday 20 May 2024: A little friend

I did a lot of faffing on Friday morning and before I knew it, it was time to go and get my hair cut. When I got back, I went out to feed and water the birds, and was surprised to see a little greenfinch sitting on the floor just outside the conservatory door. At first I thought something had bitten its head off, but I soon saw that it was holding its head to one side and feeling very sorry for itself.

It let me pick it up and check it over. Wings, tail and legs, all were intact. There were no puncture marks. It was just panting through its open beak. But what I thought was a good sign was that it was holding onto my finger with both feet, and every time I moved it, it clung on tighter. I guessed that it must have flown into a window and stunned itself. It wasn’t a chick.

I sat outside with it for a bit, stroking it, while it kept a beady eye on me. But I had work to do. I didn’t want to leave it outside in the heat, and without any protection – we have sparrowhawks that visit the garden, and kestrels, peregrine falcons and red kites in the surrounding fields – so I made a makeshift nest out of grass in one of the dog’s bowls and brought it into the office with me, where I put it on the windowsill.

The stupid starlings had a bath in the drinking bowl, so I had to go out and replenish the water in both that and the bath. The greenfinch watched me carefully through the open window, but didn’t move. And when I went back in, it didn’t move either.

The little thing was quite happy to sniff at the fresh air coming through the window. At first it was very lethargic. But eventually, it started to get interested and it was watching me. Every time I moved it jumped out of the bowl and tried to get out of the window that doesn’t open. So I put it back in its ‘nest’ and worked very, very quietly.

Finally, it hopped onto the edge of the bowl and onto the open window ledge. But even then it just stood there for a while. Then it flew off and landed in our horse chestnut tree. Soon after, the rest of the finch and tit flock came, and I presume it flew off with them. I was so happy that it didn’t die on me, as they so often do. And more importantly, I’m glad it felt able to fly up into a tree.

It was nice to have a little friend with me while I worked. When the poet got home we studied the photographs and came to the conclusion it was a female adult greenfinch. She came back to the garden a couple of times, but didn’t hop back in through the window.

The rest of the day was dedicated to the editing job, transferring those hard copy edits to the screen. And I backed up my critical data and did this week’s diary.

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