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 …..