Here is my little friend, Robin, whom I was absolutely delighted to have captured succesfully with my camera this afternoon. We first became aquainted during the winter months while I was working on the allotment. As I cleared the ground of dead plant material he would hop within a few feet, waiting patiently for me to uncover some tasty morsel to eat. I didn't realise it at the time but robins need to eat almost half their bodyweight each day, during the kind of cold weather we've had this last winter, to survive. I'm very glad then that I'd remembered reading somewhere about mealworms being their favourite food and have put out a daily dish of food - with extra mealworms added - ever since. Robin has a mate now, who I call Bobbin, and they've built a nest in the allotment hedge, sheltered behind an old door. A couple of weeks ago, I was cutting down some overgrown elder when I heard a terrible twittering beyond the hedge. Fearing a cat had found their nest I tiptoed over to look, only to discover a fight had broken out between Robin and an intruder. The intruder beat a fairly hasty retreat but I have read since that about 10% of robins actually die as a result of battles over territory; it would appear that the perpetrator in the poem 'Who killed cock-robin' was most probably another robin! Apparently, they have been known to attack toy robins, bunches of red feathers and even their own reflections in an effort to defend their patch. Neither has Robin taken kindly to other birds encroaching on his dinner table; neither he, nor Bobbin, were prepared to tolerate other diners -in the form of dunnocks - near their nest spot until they had had their fill! In the last couple of weeks, Robin has taken - most endearingly - to feeding Bobbin with mealworms and other tasty treats. Presumably this is in readiness for when she begins sitting on her eggs and becomes totally reliant upon him for food. In the last few days Bobbin has been noticeably absent at feeding time and I hope this is a good sign. Now that Robin has become used to my daily contribution to his diet I think he looks out for me and is quick to come and serenade me when I arrive. At other times I do not hear him at all but look up from my digging to find him three feet away! I understand that only British robins have developed this affinity with humans and that in Europe they prefer to skulk about in the undergrowth instead. No wonder, then, that they were adopted forty years ago as our national bird. It's heartening to know, too, that robins are one of our more successful garden birds, with about 4,200,000 pairs in Britain and also that numbers have increased by about 20% over the last 25 years. It was as he was waiting for his tea that I managed to get these photos of him today. I'm thinking that if I'm going to be feeding an entire family of robins soon then I'd better start stocking up on mealworms now.
Although it's been a month now since I mentioned 'the secret', there has sadly been no further progress, which is a shame as I have so many potential posts that tie in with it. Never mind, though. We have had some lovely prolonged periods of rain to quench the thirst of our allotments this week and now sunshine is forecast for the weekend so that I can spend my birthday digging and sowing in my favourite place. The eternal optimist in me whispers, "all things come to (s)he who waits" and so I wait. Patiently. While my Robin sings . . .