|St Aidan's Club enjoying the wild flowers on the way to their picnic at Thorneyburn church (centre background)|
|My alter ego has fallen asleep over the Church Times|
Not having had time off whilst there were vacancies for the other clergy posts in the Team ministry, I cannot remember when I last had a normal day off -- years! So, now that we are up to more or less full strength, I've taken two weeks off and been doing a lot of catching up: visits to the dentist and the optician, trying to buy a car to replace the one which blew the head gasket, planning a holiday for 2016 (which will be the first for three years), having a friend to stay, and... getting her to help me make this scarecrow for the village Scarecrow Trail.
|A heron flies away after I disturb his fishing.|
Instead of being in church first thing on a Sunday morning, I joined the congregation at St Mungo's Simonburn for the 11 o'clock service and ate a rare leisurely lunch with no afternoon visits.
|The resident blackbird at his nest in the stable. |
He sang very sweetly to persuade his mate to take up residence here, but she was very nervous at first about the horse stomping around between the door and the nest. He seemed very much at home, possibly being one of those who hatched here last year.
But the story goes back to 2013 when swallows nested on that beam. There were five chicks. I didn't expect to see the small, weak one again, but four flew off to Africa and in Spring 2014 three returned, swooping into the stable only to receive a terrible shock. In their absence the blackbirds had commandeered their nest, turning it into a blackbirds' nest by scattering a few bits of hay and twig over the mud. The three swallows repeatedly circled the stable, swooping at the nest to indicate that it was theirs, whilst Mrs Blackbird hunched down obstinately.
So it came about that blackbirds nested there again this year, also producing five eggs. Father bird worked very hard at feeding them all -- and at mucking out!
The first fledgling to leave the nest drowned in the horse's water bucket.
The second fluttered wildly on the ground, trying to regain the nest but unable to fly up to the beam which was at swallows' nesting height, too high for a young blackbird. Alarmed by the fluttering, the horse started to panic and circle the stable. I turned her out into the paddock whilst I tried to provide a pile of straw bales to act as either a ladder to the nest or a protective wall for the bird.
To cut the story short, the second bird scuttled off at ground level, the third one managed some hopping interspersed with flying which ended with an escape under the gate into the back garden, the fourth sat on the straw in the stable and called to the fifth to leave the nest. After several attempts, this last one scrambled over the nest edge, swayed on the edge of the beam, wished it hadn't....and managed to retreat back into the nest. Number four then flew at low level out of the stable and crash-landed on the drive with a kind of diving belly flop. By the end of the day the last one had left -- and the horse was allowed back in.
I don't know which one it was that was killed by a car just outside the garden gate.
|The Friends of St Cuthbert's Bellingham organise events which are enjoyable in their own right as well as raising funds to help to maintain the church building. And it was a fine Bank Holiday!|
|Zeb tries his best|
|A worthy winner|
|Jeanette and her dogs take a bow|
[More pictures on the Events page]