Friday, 4 June 2010

On wrens and bumblebees

I've been watching a wren in the garden for the last few weeks. The little fellow bobs in and out of a knothole in the eaves of my roof where he will have started to build a nest. The nest will only be finished if he can attract a female. Then they will line the nest and endeavour to raise youngsters

I've heard his rattling song regularly but I have never seen a partner. Until yesterday evening.

In the late afternoon I sat down to watch a bumble bee nest I'd noticed a few days ago. A gap between some paving stones in a path must lead to a safe and secure underground hive. I had seen them going in and out all day long but then I saw something different. One stared digging in and under a pile of dead leaves and weeds I had raked up just inches from the nest. Then there were two bees, scrimmaging about. After a few minutes they flew off. Then others came out and did the same, as the evening came on, one piece of a brown dead leaf was dragged to the nest hole. It was too big and too stiff to pull in, but much effort went into that failure. Sometimes the leaf covered the hive entrance and returning bees were disoriented and had to push a way past. It did go into the nest though, they chewed it up! As the Sun set, it was gone.

All this time my wren had been singing and flitting about. Then suddenly his song became broken up and staccato and then there were two wrens. He sang like crazy and there was no mistaking the prominent posturing and silent indifference the other wren took. He puffed out his chest and wagged his tail and bobbed and sang loud. She sat on a twig and disinterestedly picked a few aphids off a leaf. Then they zoomed off, both together, then he came back and began his rattling song. She reappeared and his song became broken up again. They dived and chased among the trees over and over.

Suddenly Then there was another rattle over the rooftop, another male wren... My guy went crazy! A bombardment of song began, and a chase for the most prominent perch. As I watched all three, the two males shouted at each other from as far apart as possible and she went off to the loo or something, like women do, but then I spotted her again; watching. The intruder relented and then there was just one song as two wrens cavorted around nearby trees and bushes. They even promenaded together along a fence, no more than a foot apart.

Today there are two wrens in my garden. He sings and she is taking bits of moss or fluffy stuff into the nest hole.

Everyone say Ahhh!


Duncanr said...

'Silent indifference'

I've met that reaction many a time :-((

P.S. you paint a beautiful picture with words

dave hambidge said...

ditto, keep us posted as to their progeny...

Andy Holroyd said...

I'll keep you posted if I can but I don't think I'll see the youngsters fledge. One morning they will just vanish, but you never know.

NobblySan said...

Great stuff.... you're like a beardy David Attenborough, with lyrical overtones.

Our next door neighbour has got wrens nesting in his shed. The keen bugger has set up a webcam to spy on them.

If he gets any decent video, I'll try to blag a copy and post it.

Andy Holroyd said...

Brilliant Nobbly, I'd love to see that.