19 March 2009

greedy pig's and the first ant

The blackthorn trees were full of wood pigeons today wobbling and flapping like fat tightrope artistes.  They were stuffing their beaks with the tiny pre-fruits left from the just finished blossom.  It no wonder we don't see many sloes come autumn.  

I like wood pigeons and their comical ways.  A serious pest of countryside crops they have huge appetites for greens and will strip cabbages bare in no time.  In town they eat the usual bread and kebabs but still go for greens in a big way.  In the garden each summer they turn one of the elder trees leaves to lace, but surprisingly won't touch any other elder growing here.  I've noticed this elsewhere with two seemingly identical walnut trees growing next to each other in Clerkenwell, one is tall and proud, the other almost weeping from years of pigeon pruning. What the difference is between tree to tree I don't know but they eat the same trees year on year.

They are larger than feral pigeons with a distinctive white patch on each side of their neck and beautiful lilac, grey and white plumage.  I stood within six feet watching them feeding and they just kept a beady yellow eye on me.  Their country cousins would have been long gone being very, very wary.  They have to be or they are soon pie filling!
This is the first ant I've seen this year.  A common black ant making the most of the sunshine  climbing a bergenia stalk (Ballawley, a new variety here - very nice green 'eye' highlighting the bud) hunting nectar and looking for aphids to milk.  

I watched it's shiny black busy-ness and felt good.  Ants make me cheerful.

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