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Berries and Blackbirds

Posted Jan 04 2010 1:00pm

A frosty snap has crisped up the garden. While making a cup of tea I breathe on the glass and wipe a circle, a picture window framing the berry bush.

Outside a pair of fat sooty blackbirds rootle about in their larder. Filling up quickly, blunt tails dancing, heads cocked on one side watching every movement made within ten yards. I cradle my steaming tea to my chest, willing them to stay so I can watch.

They pick off each ripe berry, hold it for a moment as though savouring the redness and then toss it back whole, like bandidos polishing off a tequila, swiftly. Yellow beaks held proudly for a moment and then another berry plucked, held, swallowed, job done.

They work over the bush, keeping one eye peeled for cats, cars, movement, anything. Every few minutes something spooks them and they're off to the telephone wires above, mouthing off angrily, black on blue, red berries falling through the air, yellow beaks snapped shut.

I'm transfixed every time they come to the garden. Glad to have a bush that feeds them. How intimate it feels to watch them doing something so natural, going about their business as if I am the one in a cage, looking out through my steamy porthole. Although the rest of the house needs my attention after Christmas, I shall find excuses to be in the kitchen and breathe on the window, head cocked, perfectly still, savouring the redness.

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