Friday, June 29, 2018

Gawky Teenagers

This is the adolescent blackbird that's been trailing his parent around the garden, twittering to be fed. There are two of them, actually. The mother (I assume it's the mother) dutifully plucks morsels from the ground and sticks them into the chicks' mouths, but yesterday I saw one of the chicks pecking the ground on its own. Hopefully they're almost ready to feed themselves, thus preserving Mom's avian sanity.

Speaking of awkward adolescents, check out this guy. He's got a kind of punk-rock haircut going on there. This is a blue tit, and I assume it's molting into new feathers -- or maybe it's an adult and this is a seasonal molt? I'm not sure. (That unfocused object in front of him is the suet ball feeder. I couldn't get a clearer shot. I think he's embarrassed.)

I've been sprinkling some mealworms on the ground for the blackbirds, the dunnocks and other ground feeders. Yesterday I filled up a feeder with mealworms, and the starlings discovered them -- it was a noisy mob scene. The feeder was emptied by the end of the afternoon. I'm fine with that, because Dave bought a huge, industrial-sized sack of mealworms a couple of years ago and I'd love to use them up this summer.

Speaking of using up food, I'm still doing some weird eating of my own. Last night I had quinoa, edamame pilaf and fried eggs for dinner. Cleaning out the pantry!

It has been so dry here that yesterday evening I not only watered the garden, but I got out the sprinkler and watered the lawn. We rarely water our grass, but we've had no rain for weeks and there's none on the horizon. Apparently there are wildflires burning on a moor up near Manchester and farmers in some areas are struggling to get enough water for their livestock.

But on the bright side, did you see that a Scottish lawmaker has been praised for discussing her period in Parliament? She went on to advocate for better support for poor women who need menstrual supplies. You go girl!

I've mentioned my crazy project to transcribe my old paper journals into a (for now) private blog online, in order to edit them, make them more searchable and to back them up in case, God forbid, the house burns down. I'm almost finished, after three years of on-and-off work. All the journals on the right, from 1989 to 2005, are done. I only have those on the left to go. I think I may wrap up by the end of the summer!


  1. Perhaps Dave bought the big sack of mealworms for human consumption. He's going to be peed off when he finds you have been feeding them to the birds. They could have been the bases for several recipes including meatballs and mealworm curry. Also delicious when stirred into a bowl of muesli.

  2. Congratulations on the journal transcription. That’s dedication!

    I read that the term “mealy mouth” comes from the period in Japanese history —Heiean?— when ladies prized a very pale complexion and applied white powder to their faces which made their teeth, in contrast, look gray ... as gray as meal worms. Their solution was to blacken their teeth.

    I didn’t know you could buy bags of meal worms. I serve my backyard blue jays dry cat food, which they love. In return they leave me the splendid feathers that they molt. Maybe they deserve meal worms too.

  3. Oh, that poor moulting (or getting feathers) bird! My chickens look the same when they moult!
    Speaking of chickens, if you had a few, you could feed THEM all of those old things from the pantry and they would love you and turn it all into nice fresh eggs.
    What a project you have taken on with your journals. You are persistent!
    I have observed that birds of all sorts are such excellent parents. Well, mostly the mothers but the fathers of wild birds as they help feed the young. Roosters- not so much. But they do protect the flock as mamas raise their young. So they serve their purpose there.

  4. It must feel good to be almost done with that transcribing job. That is quite a lot of work. That wild haired (or is that feathered) bird is a funny sight.

  5. With a stack of journals like that you have been very meticulous in reporting your adventures.

  6. The way the world is going, I'm glad you also have hard copies of your journals! But congrats on almost being done with the transcribing. I would not dare transcribe my journals from my younger years because it's just the same depressed post over and over--I realized that I only wrote when I was down, as a way to process and move past the sadness. It such an incomplete picture of my youth! I know your journals are far more comprehensive and interesting!

    Thanks for your comment about the Irish Times piece. I was intrigued by the way it presented as fact that the Brexit election had been tampered with. Are people talking about this where you are?

  7. Funny how I used the word post to mean a journal entry. Language does evolve!

  8. adolescent birds are so funny looking when they are getting their true fathers. male cardinals get all splotchy red and brown. well, one squirrel has found it's way to where the teacup is now hanging via the roof from the other side and the ledge on top of the window. rats.

  9. I like your project of transcribing your journals. I had thought about doing that with the ones I've been keeping since 1992, but I decided to just burn them before I die. Not sure why, it just seems like a good way to wrap it all up. I saw an amazing photo of the fires in Manchester. It had the full moon rising next to a landscape of flames. It looked so much like California in the summertime. Such cute little fledglings you have there.

  10. It would only take me about two hours to transcribe my journals - I very rarely wrote in one. I've gone back to read them & they're truly cringe-worthy. The one I wish I had was for a natural history class one semester in college - I thought I did some good work in there, but the professor "lost" it. Grrr...

  11. We had a young Say's Phoebe hanging around the backyard for quite a while. He would sit on the birdbath for 10 to 15 minutes at a time, rarely drinking, most of the time facing away from the water with his tailfeathers hanging in it. Occasionally he would fly up in the air, then return to the bath. I named him "Dumbo". He may have finally become old enough to learn he's not supposed to do that as I haven't seen him recently.

  12. Well done to MP Danielle Rowley!! And I cracked up over the tweet from a man who said there should be no taboo in talking about it, and "if it was men they'd be boasting about how heavy their flow is and how epic their cramps are" - sounds about right to me :) lol (not all men, but, you know, a lot of them :D)

    Gawky teenagers is right. We don't often see birds in their transition stages but they seem to have them just like we do!

  13. YP: There IS a whole movement out there devoted to eating insects, including mealworms. But I am not going there!

    Vivian: That's interesting about mealy-mouthed! I never knew.

    Ms Moon: You sent me to the (online) dictionary to look up "molt" vs. "moult." Apparently they're both correct spellings, with moult preferred outside the USA and molt being American English. I don't know enough about many birds to tell males from females!

    Sharon: I will be so glad when it's over! And then the next step is to decide whether to destroy the paper ones.

    Red: I wrote quite a bit, but some of it probably wasn't worth writing!

    37P: Yeah, I used journals in a similar way, especially when I was younger. The challenge in editing them was to remove some of that really embarrassing content while at the same time keeping enough to give a truthful picture of what was going on. I have heard theories that the Russians meddled in the Brexit referendum, but I'm not aware that that's been definitively established. (As far as I know, there's not even a formal investigation, but I could be wrong.)

    Ellen: Those squirrels are unbelievable!!

    Robin: Yeah, I think burning (or shredding or something) these will be in order as well. I saw that moon picture too!

    Bug: Mine are cringe-worthy in places. I take out the truly cringey parts. As I said above, in editing I try to be truthful to my younger self, but at the same time I get rid of the really embarrassing stuff.

    Catalyst! Well, maybe his tail was hot? Ha!

    Jenny-O: Isn't that a great story?! The Scots are an earthy lot. :)