A tall, stately ash tree grows on the grassy bank at the bottom of our garden. In summer, the broad sweep of its branches affords us shade as we sit under it, fanned by the feathery leaf canopy as it sways and rustles gently in the breeze.
Our ash tree is home to some wood pigeons. Three of them. They are year-round residents, flitting between our tree and the sycamore across the road in our neighbour’s large open front garden.
I love birds; I love the cheeky robin as he sits on my spade waiting for me to unearth the next hapless worm for his tea. I love the ingenuity of the birds as they build their amazing nests; the incredible patterns in the sky the flocking starlings make; the music of the dawn chorus; the solo of the nightingale; the busy blackbird as it twitters through the dusk on its way to bed. On Desert Island Discs my first record would be English bird song.
But sadly, I do not love wood pigeons. Sorry, but there it is. They are just not my cup of tea. On a beautiful summer morning, the symphony of melodic bird song outside my open window is overwhelmed by the 3-note throaty grumblings of the wood pigeons. The complex songs of the garden birds are drowned out by their rumblings, whose song - no, I can’t call it song - whose 3 notes go round and round on a seemingly endless loop, making me jump out of bed and slam the window to shut out the monotony of it all.
My wood pigeons need a wood where they can squawk away to their hearts content. I had ambitions to humanely trap them and transport them to a wood far away, but they are not to be caught. No amount of tempting with a trail of tasty delicacies leading to a cage would tempt them out of the trees. They may have no music in their souls but they are canny and could see my lures for what they were.
So, for the moment I am reconciled to sharing my tree with the wood pigeons. I have been reading up about them on the RSPB website and learn they live in pairs. Well, tell that to my wood pigeons. We have a menage a trois going on here which has provided some interesting entertainment for us this summer, as we sat on our garden seat, slurping our wine in the evening sunshine and idly watching the goings on around us.
In the ash tree my lady wood pigeon turns and coos alluringly to her lord, nuzzling up the branch to him. All seems hunky dory with them for a while and they sit together, swaying gently on the branch, content in each other’s company. That is until my lord wood pigeon number 2 flies in and sidles up to my lady. She sizes him up for a few moments and, presumably liking what she sees in this handsome, plumped-out bird, turns to my lord number 1 and signals to him to push off. Obligingly, he does just that and takes himself off to the sycamore tree across the road, and waits patiently until my lady and possibly her new lord decide to join him there or signal to him to re-unite with them in the ash tree.
The leaves on the ash tree are yellowing as autumn advances. As I write, the 3 plump wood pigeons are perched in its branches. How will they fare this winter in a tree barren of leaves and open to the elements. Dare I hope they may find a nearby wood full of cosy evergreens to shelter in? I am ever the optimist and whilst I have enjoyed the wood pigeon’s shenanigans this summer, I would be ecstatic if they depart for warmer quarters. We shall see …..
I live in a lovely small town on the North Yorkshire coast and in winter take my daily walk along the promenade that stretches around the sheltered bay. Old-style wrought iron railings top the stout sea walls, keeping small children and toddlers safe from tumbling into the sea. When the promenade runs out, it's down on to the soft sandy beach to walk for a few miles, watching the waves and dogs frolicking in the sea and then racing along the empty stretches of golden sands. Idyllic. Yes, so far so good. Bear in mind, miles of empty beach down there in the winter time for the local dogs to exercise on.
Then spring comes around and the visitors pile in. That's fine. I don't mind sharing my lovely town. Everyone needs a break to to feel the sun on their faces. But - do they have to bring two or three dogs apiece with them?
Now, don't get me wrong. I love dogs. I have always owned dogs, (or they owned me). I hope I have been a responsible dog owner and no, I'm not going into the smug-zone here, but I don't think I ever let my dogs carry on the way the promenade dog-walkers do.
It's not the dogs fault. As ever, it's the owners. What gets into people when they put their dogs on the end of a lead? Is that it? End of responsibility? Walking behind them or trying to walk past them, or even trying to avoid them as their dogs run towards you, jumping up and covering you in doggy-wet sand - it's not the best epxerience.
The scenario : the dog owners are ambling along the promenade, usually in family groups, pushing strollers, chatting, minding small children, licking ice creams, chomping on burgers, pizzas, kebabs, chips. You get the picture, all life is there. And lastly and I do mean lastly - there is a dog, or multiples of dogs strung out on a lead that is nominally attached to their hand and that's about it. What the dogs get up to seems to be entirely their own business. They can run around any strangers feet, can run at least two or three yards ahead and wrap themselves and their leads around someone's legs, (usually mine) and trip them up and guess what? 'Oh my, isn't that just funny now,' trill the owners, as they briefly nudge their dogs back into line. And in the next second? Correct. They turn back to their ice-cream/burger/pizza/kebab/chips/chit-chat, chit-chat and the dogs are free to roam all over again.
So, my top tip when sitting on a bench on the prom. Never, never leave your tea or coffee unattended or your picnic unguarded. That is so irresponsible of you. Why, you are just asking for those dear little/large/outsize dogs to bound up and sink their noses into your food and slap their tongues around your coffee. Yep, it's sure to be your fault for leaving your stuff around. After all, 'dogs will be dogs, you know.' Just watch out; the next doggie owner that says that to me with a fond dopey grin on their face. I may not be answerable for the consequences. Just sayin', that's all.......