Tuesday, July 21, 2020


Once again, my mornings are consumed by picking up fallen detritus from our walnut tree. I wrote about this last year, with virtually the same photo, so I guess I don't need to repeat myself. Suffice to say it's a challenge to keep the lawn clean and comfortable for walking. (And I am not a neat freak when it comes to lawns, believe me. My standards are pretty low!)

What I didn't mention last year is the way the walnuts stain Olga's belly when she lies on them. She's got a whole new layer of light brown spots. She looks sort of unwashed, but even baths don't remove walnut juice.

Remember how I recently mentioned seeing a blackbird eating our blackberries? Well, yesterday this bird landed and snarfed down a berry right in front of me. But I belatedly realized it's not a blackberry -- it's a mulberry, from Mrs. Kravitz's tree next door. The bird, despite its coloring, is -- I believe -- a blackbird, in the process of losing its juvenile brown plumage and turning darker.

There are lots of young birds out and about now. We had a noisy clutch of baby dunnocks in the forsythia bush by our bedroom door, and they seem to have vacated the nest just within the last day or two. We've seen some out in the garden that seem very young and oblivious, and I suspect they're from that nest. There were also some sparrows nesting under the eaves of the house, and they're on their own now, too.

Not that leaving the nest is easy. Yesterday I watched another adolescent blackbird tailing its parent, loudly complaining for food, but the mother -- who was carrying a berry like the one above -- refused to hand it over. She was trying to force her teenager to fend for itself, I suppose. Tough love!

I ran some errands yesterday afternoon, including buying more suet balls for the bird feeder. The starlings are nuts for suet balls. They consume them by the pound, and then take noisy, energetic baths in the bird bath. And then Olga drinks the water, which we call "bird juice." It's all very entertaining.

While at Homebase I also picked up this Rudbeckia (above). We bought one last year and it didn't survive the winter. Perhaps we'll be luckier this time around!

Dave and I finally finished the German TV show "Dark," on Netflix, last night. It's a very complicated show involving time travel and travel between parallel worlds, a huge number of characters (all with older and younger versions of themselves), and then duplicate identical characters in the parallel worlds. It's all about the structure of time and reality. As I said to someone, it's like a soap opera written by Einstein and produced by Nietzsche. I kept telling Dave -- when I wasn't asking "Who is he again?" or "Is she the same character as that girl in the previous episode?" -- it seemed very German. It was really good, but I found I had to let go of many of the details and let the story carry me along. It came together at the end, more or less.


  1. I bought myself a new bird feeder that sticks onto the window. We used to get robins mainly on the old one, but P set up the trail camera to see what was eating the food so quickly, and it turned out to be starlings...parents and fledglings! I suppose they need to eat too, but would prefer to see the little birds using it!Also on the film from the camera we saw that a starling had caught it's foot and was hanging upside down for a short while until it managed to free itself. Must have a look at that !Aah yes, it is the gap that lets any rain run out so probably shouldn't tape over it!! Do you pickle the walnuts ?

  2. Good to have all that birdlife in your garden.
    It is difficult with walnuts..they fall..or are pushed, by squirrels..too late to pickle if the shell has started to garden, or too soon if you want nuts! As Olga has found they make very good dye too.

  3. Are the walnuts edible? and I hope you are able to get some of those Mulberries they are lovely.
    Thinking about it I think walnuts can be used as a dye so that explains why those marks will not budge on Olga.

  4. Oh dear. I think you can expect legal action from Mrs Kravitz for training your young blackbird to steal her mulberries. Rumour has it that you have also encouraged it to poop on her side of the fence.

  5. I love walnuts. We have a tree that was given to us courtesy of a red squirrel years ago and now he (she?) came and took all of its (five) walnuts and probably buried them elsewhere in the garden. Mustn't complain.

    I am somewhat stuck three episodes to go with Dark and cannot find the motivation, tempted to jump to the last episode and be done with it. Would I miss too much?

  6. I'm still telling SG who the characters are on "This is Us." If he can't keep track of them, forget "Dark." I had in my head that blackbirds of course eat blackberries. So, now that you know that's a mulberry, are you sure that's not a mulbird? I had heard that walnut tree droppings stain anything below (like furniture). Poor Olga (well, not that she cares).

  7. Mrs Kravits as in Gladys? I think juvenile birds beg for food well after they can find their own. Starlings are a pest bird here.

    I can watch intense English tv but similar from other countries is too much for me.

  8. The Spiral Inside The Flower, Stunning - Great Shot There Brother Steve


  9. I was going to mention the walnut used as dye thing too. There were walnut trees on my grandparents' property & they were a MESS. Of course, it didn't help that they strewed them all over the driveway to let the cars crack the green outer shell off.

    We think something has killed our Rudbeckia - all the leaves have shriveled up along with the flowers. Ugh.

  10. The photos you put on your blog are always so good. I am not sure if I could watch a complicated show with subtitles! Though I do need to find something to watch. I started World on Fire which is on PBS here in the states. I enjoyed the first episode, but there were so many characters and it kept flipping between Poland and the UK...I had to really focus. So if it had been where I had to read the subtitles too, I would have been totally lost.

  11. Love the bird stories and the photos. That Rudbeckia is so beautiful.
    When I read this, "it's like a soap opera written by Einstein and produced by Nietzsche" it made me wonder how you would describe life in the USA right now. It's like a horror movie...

  12. I remember hulling walnuts as a teenager back in Illinois. They are extremely messy. Our hands would look like we dipped them iodine for days after. But, the nuts were good. Do you ever eat any? I love that pretty yellow flower.

  13. I watched a male cardinal the other day come and eat some seed and then go feed his youngster sitting in the gingko tree squalling for food. I think the nesting is done here and the juveniles are having to learn to fend for themselves.

    I can relate to the walnut debris only here it's pecan debris. July is when the trees start dropping immature nuts either from being over loaded or bad weather conditions. this year it's the weather, no rain, as I haven't seen that many developing nuts on the trees. may not have much of a crop this year. are black walnuts edible?

  14. Like you, I've been surprised at how much suet the birds have been going through this summer considering how ungodly hot/humid it has been here for weeks on end--which makes changing the suet feeders (one is a two-sided, squirrel busting affair) a very messy task. Expect the birds chow down on the suet in the winter, but they are going through it like lightning this summer.

  15. I have a mulberry tree in my backyard, and the birds are loving it. I'm noticing lots of young birds here too. It takes a while before they really abandon their comfy nests. Good luck with your new plant. I'm sure with lots of TLC from you, it will do nicely. Have you tried picking any of the walnuts to see if they can be used in cooking? You have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

  16. I love the bird, looking like a teenager, flaws and promise. Walnuts are mighty! We used them for dying baskets, Olga doesn't seem to mind more spots on the tum.

  17. Mulberries are delicious. I have only had them twice, straight from a tree, but I much prefer them to blackberries. Poor Olga with her walnut stained belly. Still cute though! Oliver looks dirtier every time he appears. I don't know what he gets up to but his white fur shows up all the dirt very well.

  18. I read Ellen’s comments and we have the similar pecan debris too.
    Young fledglings like that always make me think about the mama and young raven in Cozumel that we observed every day for over a week. He looked completely grown to us but he screamed at his mother to feed him. She had so much patience! By the time we left, he was eating on his own dime.

  19. I don't watch movies, but I do read a lot, and I've been finding myself doing the same thing at times with some books, just letting go of the details if I can't keep up, and skimming those parts until I can pick up the thread again. But I don't enjoy those books as much, and if I know ahead of time they're going to be like that, say from reading the first in a series (Game of Thrones, I'm looking at you) I can't be bothered reading any more! Life's too short to read exasperating books :D

  20. Frances: Starlings can empty our feeder incredibly quickly, but we actually don't mind them. They're entertaining! (And apparently they're in decline as a species, so we're happy to help them out with some nutrition.) We don't do anything with the walnuts.

    GZ: We've talked about looking into how to use the nuts, but ultimately it just seems like a lot of trouble. So we leave them alone!

    Briony: Mrs Kravitz did give me a taste of the mulberries!

    YP: I am skilled in many things but training wild birds is not one of them! I think I could easily prove this on the witness stand.

    Sabine: If you've come this far, stick it out! It will all make more sense when it's over.

    Mitchell: Yeah, Olga couldn't care less about the staining!

    Andrew: I call her Mrs Kravitz because of Gladys, but that's not her real name. She just shares the nosiness factor. Starlings are native in the UK so they're fine here, but they're considered a pest in North America too.

    Padre: Thanks! It's a cool flower!

    Bug: They're supposed to be perennials, but I don't think rudbeckias are all that tough. If ours died and yours died, that seems to suggest something!

    Michael: I don't know "World on Fire." We're about to try some new shows, so I'll check that one out.

    Robin: It IS like a horror movie. I don't think I would use any light-hearted terms to describe the state of the USA at the moment.

    Sharon: I can imagine! My fingers are brown just after picking them up from the grass. No, we don't eat them. We're too lazy.

    Ellen: I think these are edible walnuts, if we could be bothered. I know pecan trees are messy too.

    Mary: Yeah, it's crazy! I wonder if there's a shortage of wild food, or do they just prefer the suet?

    Edna: Nice that you have a mulberry tree! They're pretty trees, in addition to bearing fruit.

    Linda Sue: Yeah, Olga doesn't care. That bird DOES look very adolescent, doesn't it?

    Sarah: See, I like blackberries more. I like the tartness. Mulberries have a muskiness that I'm not crazy about.

    Ms Moon: I guess it's just like human animals -- we gotta push those fledglings out of the nest so they can fly on their own!

    Jenny-O: Yeah, I have the kind of brain that likes to understand everything that's going on. It can be frustrating when I don't.