This morning, while I was waiting for my extra special Christmas veggie box to arrive, I was watching the birds in the garden through my kitchen window. For the last several days I’ve been putting out several full feeders only to see them emptied within minutes by a sundry collection of starlings, sparrows, tits, finches, wood pigeons, a dove, and a couple of jackdaws. A rook which on several occasions tried to demolish one of the feeders (ti being too clumsy to get any food by conventional methods) seems now to have given up and merely watches angrily from a tree.

The dove (a collared dove to be precise) is a new arrival in my garden (though not at all a rare bird). It seems rather shy and quiet in behaviour, usually to be found sitting in a tree while all the smaller birds flutter and chatter around. It does seem to like the seed, but also eats the berries on the hedges. It’s a very interesting bird to look at, its grey feathers making it look rather ghostly. The wood pigeons (which are much bigger) are quite noisy but I haven’t heard the dove make any sound yet.

A number of robins also visit the garden. They’re not agile enough to use the feeders but instead patrol around at ground level collecting bits and pieces that have fallen down. One of them however has realized that my stash of food is in the shed and that my entering the shed is a prelude to good being available. The other day as soon as I went in, one particular robin followed me right inside and jumped onto the bench where I was spooning out the seed. I had spilled some, which he/she tucked into, and I gave him/her a bit more. Now the little critter is there every day waiting in the VIP lane. Whenever I open the back door to go into the garden all the other birds scatter in all directions, except the robin who doesn’t seem to be at all intimidated.

With the eventual arrival of my veggie box I have got just about everything I need for a self-indulgent holiday. The amount of food and wine I’ve laid up for myself is probably enough for a month and I thought that this afternoon’s trip to the fishmonger to collect six oysters for Christmas Eve would be my last trip to the shops before Christmas Day, but I think I’ll make one more trip to buy bird food. At the rate they’re scoffing it I’ll be out of supplies by Boxing* Day!

*”Boxing Day” isn’t really used in Ireland; the usual term is “St Stephen’s Day”