The War of the Birds

I have never been a great fan of birds. For a start off they have creepy eyes. And sharp beaks, and claws. Even their feathers have a false sense of ‘whispness’ about them, but birds have never before driven me to the depths of rage I have felt in the last week. It has to do with compost. I know, you’re thinking, isn’t she moaning about birds? but trust me when I say, the two are inextricably linked. This year I got a new compost bin. Actually it’s two bins – made to order by the resident builder. I can raise and lower the sides and there is also space for me to shovel the compost out of the bin and into a bucket to spread on the garden. Before I began my “composting journey,” I also read about the nun who thought the secret of good compost was a mixture of brown and green, so I was fully prepared when I began depositing the vege peels and apple cores. Before my eyes this pile of kitchen scraps and dead leaves started becoming the most yummy looking compost I had ever seen. Enter the asparagus bed. For many years I have moved my asparagus corms from place to place in search of the perfect home and this year, I took the thickly sprouting shoots of a couple of corms as proof that I’d found them a home. I also knew they were undernourished and needed a good composting. On a beautiful sunny day last week I dug into my fresh, delicious compost and discovered not only perfect peaty earthy stuff, but a meeting place for insects. Big beetles, little beetles, centipedes, weird creepy things and best of all, thousands of wiggling worms. I was like a born again Christian spreading the word. Every ailing pot and lack lusture bed was liberally dosed. The next day I went outside and found most of my compost spread like the products of a scouring cow, all over the paving. The starlings had found the insect zoo and they were like kids at a birthday party looking for the cake. It was understandable. ‘Who doesn’t like a good worm?’ I thought, as I brushed it all back into the garden. I did that for the next five days, each one of them causing the blood pressure to rise. I discovered that when they tired of the easy feed, they went for the pots and spread that compost all over the deck as well. Yesterday I got a pair of clippers and my various assortment of plastic netting leftovers and I locked those beds and pots up so tightly there was no way a bird could get anywhere near the soil. And I laughed. That hideous, evil laugh that the nun probably never uttered, as I heard the starlings screeching their outrage. It’s been a good war but it also reminds me of my sad, demented father suddenly rising from his chair in the living room to rush outside and turn the hose, full bore, onto the birds in the ugly conifer by the deck. Our mutual dislike of starlings could be in the genes. I have my fingers crossed it’s just because they’re annoying bastards and it has nothing to do with Altzheimers.

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