The Last Furlong

Comments on the race of life.


Robins – eggs to flying.

About a month ago,  our dog found three eggs in a nest in an old pot plant  lying on its side in a secluded corner of our garden. We immediately closed off that section, so they wouldn’t become dog omelettes.

The next day, there were four eggs.

And the day after, five. With a robin sitting on them. I saw two different robins sitting on the eggs during that time.

After about two weeks, we found tiny  naked pink babies lying inert in the nest. They were no bigger than a thumbnail. Sometimes they were there cold and alone for quite a while wating to be fed. They  transformed from inert pink thumbnails  to squirming  pink hideous things straining tiny heads upwards, like mini monsters.

We bought mini mealworms for mini babies. I laid the worms out on a plastic gardening stool I’d put in front of the nest the day the dog discovered the eggs to stop it getting close. So in the late afternoons, to help with supplies, I offered the worms to the parents. “Kip, kip, kip. Kip, kip, kip”.

As the babies grew in their hideousness, so did their dinners. And the parents became tamer. Eventually, the Dad would pick up exactly four worms alight on the nest and stuff a worm down the gaping mouths of his monsters. Four of them.

Growing babies is hard work. We put fatballs up for the parents, not the babies. Rather like a gin and tonic at five. A treat. Something to keep the spirits up.

Believe me, there’s nothing uglier than a baby Robin. All mouth, no eyes, weedy body. But they transform!

They develop fluff, mini wings, black eyes that wink at you, and small round bodies. The nest gets really full, crushed actually, with each fat baby adjusting itself for comfort sending a ripple of adjustments through its sleeping siblings. They do sleep a lot.  And in filming them, I found them hard to wake for a good shot,

Yesterday, they left the nest. When we went to feed the worms,  the nest was empty  and  the four babies, safely reared, were in the bushes, fluffy, speckled cute things, testing their erratic flight skills.

One accidently flew into me. And clung on the gate by my feet. We were both surprised, shocked even. A frozen moment. And I was delighted. Here, right HERE, was proof of the most amazing miracle that we’d  been privaledged to watch.

So from sitting to hatching takes two weeks.

In our case the father Robin also sat.

From hatching to leaving the nest takes a further two weeks.

In our case, in the beginning, the mother fed too.

So it’s  done in a month.

Clever birds. Well done. You are welcome to do it again in the nesting places I  have prepared for you with hope that you will. Bye bye babies, stay safe. Its a big bad world out there.

So my best advice is to stay at home, here, in OUR garden, please. Hope to see you at our bird table. We’ve got some left over worms that need eating….

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One benefit of being old

Mr Furlong and I are having a fun time.

We are movie-bingeing.

We watch something everyday.

Sometimes we even series-binge.

We watch things we’ve seen before – often – a great deal.

We don’t mind because we can’t remember the plots.

It’s all “new” to us. All surprising. All enjoyable.

We find we had good taste.

There is always the chance of discovering what seems like a new thing that we never noticed before.

That’s one benefit of being old!

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Meet the Dad(s) – Robin expert required here please.

Our Robin nest story is now complex.

The thlot plickens!

In the beginning there was a dark Robin and a light Robin and small light Robin hanging about. I thought it might be a young Robin hanging about from a previous nesting.

BOTH the dark Robin and the larger light Robin sat on the eggs. I saw it with my own eyes. I looked it up on the Internet where I found that male Robins “have occasionally been seen to sit on the eggs”. Then the eggs hatched.

I thought the dark Robin had disappeared. She is darker, charcoal even, and has the orange mask around her eyes and a dark widows’peak, whereas the male does not (see pics)

Once a day, I put live worms in the now Blackbirdproof feeder that we invented.

But now something odd is happening. Daddy is feeding his babies. It looks as if he is sitting on them too sometimes. Is that possible?

But, the smaller light coloured Robin, that I thought was a hanger-on, is picking up mouthfuls of worms and flying off into the bushes as if HE is feeding babies too. Is that possible? Two nests in the same garden?

And, as I said I thought the dark Robin had disappeared. Mr Furlong suggested she was out “pulling”…..? But I don’t know. The large photo below is the Robin sitting on the babies today. Is that Dad? No, I think that’s Mom!

Light Dad, Dark Mom, Hatched babies, Hungry baby!


The bird ‘situation’

This is the second post I’m writing because the first disappeared itself as I was trying to upload my photos.

So what I said was that two years ago all the birds in our garden disappeared seemingly overnight. Only I said it better and more descriptively, but now I couldnt be arsed to type it again.

I said we have a vibrant bird colony in our garden this year.

I said, as you already know, we have a Robin nesting in a plastic pot behind our shed. Only I said it better.

Now here is the real story.

Yesterday I was convinced the Robin eggs had hatched because two Robins were shuttling backwards and forwards to the few fat balls left from Winter, that are hanging on the feeder. They seemed exceptionally busy.

So I visited the Robin nest where I offered Mom a double dose of live worms ( for her, her husband and the babies). I found her sitting in the nest as usual. We have become quite friendly. But for some reason, she flew off and I discoverd the eggs have not hatched. I took photos.

Back in the kitchen, on showing Mr Furlong the photos, I realised I was wasting the special live worms which she had consumed daily for the last week and went back to retrieve them.

They were almost gone. My God that was quick! And the Robin was sitting serenely in the nest.

I was just in time to see the adolescent blackbird that has been giving his harrassed parents loads of grief the last week, leaping off into the bushes with a triumphant shriek.

Today I’m designing a blackbird proof Robin feeding system.

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Lockdown Boogie

Mr Furlong and I enjoy Boogie.

It’s uplifting in these dreary times.

Be uplifted too….its good for the immune system!

This was produced at the beginning of isolation by Chris Conz from Switzerland with Boogie-Woogie piano players from all over the world, doing their thing, ALONE yet TOGETHER! 🎹

Conz has a great channel called International Boogie Nights


Mealworms bite – evidently

We have a Robin nesting in a plastic pot plant tub behind our shed.

Bass and I discovered two eggs of an “unknown” bird in the nest

Everyday, the clutch went up by one egg until, at five eggs, the bird sat.

She’s a Robin.

We have put up PPE for her, in the form of a playpen, because, if she manages a hatch, Bass is going to think the squeeking, wriggling babies are good prey.

So Robins are insect eaters. We have dried mealworms sometimes added to the bird feeders. But yesterday, our son-in-law brought us a new thing. LIVE mealworms. “For the babies” he said. But the babies aren’t expected for another week.

Evidently we need to pop them in the fridge where they will go into suspended animation until required.

On researching mealworms, I found a wonderful reader question from a small boy. It said “I want to play with my mealworms, is that alright?”

The reply was, “Yes, of course you may play with them, just remember they can bite!”

I don’t know is that’s true, or just a master stroke in child psychology to encourage gentleness/caution, but I’m not going to find out, because I’m NEVER going to touch the horrid things.