The Chaffinch

What a colourful bird is the Chaffinch.

In springtime when the birds are feeding their young many come to our garden to eat the titbits my husband leaves for them. The food ranges from bread crumbs, left overs and some seeds. Each bird is glad of any extra food to feed their fast growing young.   I enjoy the company of our feathered friends.

Over the summer the Robin was our regular visitor, with only a few visits from Sparrows and Tits. The young had flown the nest and the breeding season had come to an end. The adults could take a rest. We would have only an occasional visit from the Chaffinch.

The Chaffinch is larger and stronger looking than the robin and more confident. He is handsome with a blue-grey cap, reddish-brown breast and back.

It’s now winter. Brendan supplements the food he leaves out with bird seed bought from the pet shop. The Chaffinch is now a frequent visitor. Brendan noticed he comes to feed when dark seeds are left out. He is not so fond of bread or other lighter coloured seeds. He feeds on seed from the thistle, which is a thorny plant. The chaffinch is sometimes associated with Christ’s crown of thorns.

It is a delight to see this beautiful visitor on our fence in the morning especially after reading about the chaffinch’s association with Our Saviour. I lift my eyes to our God who made the heavens and the earth. I thank God for his son Jesus. The crown of thorns pierced his head, blood flowed down his forehead and matted his hair. The flesh on his back was opened up with the thongs of a whip. His body and clothes were covered in blood from his wounds. Men turned away from the sight.

“He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭53:2-3, 5‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Jesus wounds healed me from fourth stage cancer.

An October Morning.

Oh the stillness of Monday morning.
The house is quiet.
No popping of the toaster, or the kettle boiling for tea and coffee.
The high chair is empty till the next grandchild comes to visit.
No airport pickups today.
Visitors from far away places in England, Canada and India have left.
The light, warmth and stillness invites us outside.
The calm after the storm.
Our friend the robin welcomes us.
He flutters and swirls around me, excited.
Others birds in the forest are singing their hearts out.
Two blue tits come down inquisitively looking for food.
A blackbird calls.
A solitary Raven chases away any competitors for the food scattered on the lawn.
The sunshine glistens on the water, thousands of lights dancing.
Tinkle, tinkle sounds come up from the last yacht below in the bay.
Where is the sun bed?
It hasn’t been packed way yet.
I stretch out and look up.
A few dry leaves drift past.
There is the blue sky beyond the bare branches.
Somewhere up there in an aeroplane is my son and his family.
I will savour the sunshine and beauty.
It’s a new day, I will not be sad.

The Robin

 

In Ireland the humble bird the Robin is celebrated on our Christmas cards. Images of the bright eyed bird with healthy feathers, red on his breast and brown on his body and wings are displayed on many a mantle piece.

One forgets that this bird has had to survive a busy schedule in spring and summer building nests, hatching eggs, and foraging for food to keep himself and young alive. Brendan leaves out seeds and leftover bread on the fence for the birds. One bird waits expectantly every morning. It has come into our kitchen when we leave the door open.

If I am away for a few days the Robin welcomes us back by hopping in circles around me from shrub to hedge to get my attention. I haven’t been looking out for my friend for a while. But this morning I was up early. The bird must have seen me move about the kitchen. He was looking for food.

I fetched the seed box and laid out some seeds. The Robin came along. Sadly he looked a bit disheveled. His head was bereft of healthy feathers. He had few red feathers. He must have been in a few difficult situations; fights, hungry or thirsty.

Perhaps the hungry mouths he was helping feed this summer pulled at his feathers when he was sharing his morsels. Is it time to moult his feathers? Or was he in some territorial fights? I discovered from a bird blog that robins defend their territory fiercely.

He has some nice territory to defend. He has two gardens in which to forage and get plenty of food for his offspring. He has a home owner who leaves out treats for him every morning. He isn’t going to give up easily.

Can I learn from this little bird. Jesus said look at the birds. I see this Robin as a real warrior fighting for his home and his land where he gets provision for his young. I read in Nehemiah 4 v 4 that the men prayed for their families and their homes. They built with one hand and defended their property with a sword in their hands. Like the Robin I often get a few ruffled feathers as I defend my home and children. It is my space and I want to keep it a safe place free from evil.

Jesus likens a man to a house.
““When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. “”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭12:43-45‬ ‭NIV‬‬

We can learn from this scripture Jesus warning to continue to keep our house free from evil spirits. They will always want to come back in. They will never give up. So one needs to be on guard to prevent evil coming back into ones life once we have been set free.

How does one do that. By believing in Jesus, by prayer, by reading the Word of God and by obeying what God has asked one to do.

Late April in Slovakia

I’m sitting under a willow tree in Slovakia,
My body welcoming the warmth of the sun
Along with all the creatures
That had to endure the long winter.
Life is breaking forth all around me.
Sparrows chirp above me in the branches,
Taking turns to fly up
Into crevices in the wall
Building their nests to have their young.
I survey the green panorama of the forest trees.
Two weeks ago they were bare brown trunks.
Doves call from their midst.
The apple trees burst forth buds and flowers
Attracting bees that buzz and hum
Busy collecting nectar and pollen.
White butterflies float in the air,
Outlined by the green background.
Although a thousand miles apart we share
Familiar wildlife in our gardens.
Sparrows, swallows, doves, bees and butterflies know no borders.
My son works with the soil.
My daughter in law is planting flowers,
Free from the repetition of washing dishes and clothes,
Cooking, baking and cleaning.
Their children play nearby,
Safe in the space of the new mown garden.
A hose gushes cool water.
The children dart in and out of the spray,
Running, chasing and squealing.
Barbecue smoke drifts through the air,
Inviting us to the picnic table.
Grilled chicken, courgettes, pineapple
Sweetcorn and mushrooms are ready.
Let’s dive in.

The Sandwich Tern Arrive.

I was excited to see Sandwich terns today on Swan Island. It is rock outcrop a few yards from Strangford harbour. They are on time! Cold winds are easing and the days are warmer and have longer hours of daylight. Isn’t it wonderful that these birds fly thousands of miles from southern parts of Europe and America to rear their young. We are privileged to have them visit. Thousands of travelers on the Strangford ferry will get to see these terns up close. The birds are safe on the island out of reach from any enemies, but near enough for us to enjoy them.

There are many pairs in the colony that will nest and rear their young on the small island. They are very noisy. They rise up into the air together, screech and fly off to feed. They catch small fish on the surface of the water. Perhaps the same flock of terns return year after year.

The Strangford ferry is a vantage point to see the terns. Some of the birds stand on the end of the gangway on the ferry as it crosses the Lough. They aren’t shy of humans.

When I arrived home I heard Bird Song as the evening sun was setting. I recognized the blackbird’s, robin’s and starling’s call in the chorus. Only a few come to the bird table in the morning. They must be off looking for mates and making their nests in preparation to rear their young. It is safe now to start building. A week ago there was snow on the ground and many birds were feeding at the bird table.

The daffodils are sprouting yellow trumpets at last. They were held back by cold temperatures. What a welcome sight of new green shoots and yellow flowers swaying in the breeze, another sign that spring has sprung.

God’s glory is seen in his creation. Who tells the tern to leave the warm climes to come north to the best conditions to rear their young? Who causes the grass, flowers and trees to bud and blossom? Who causes the lambs to be born just when it is warm enough for them to survive.

“For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭61:11‬. NIV

Red Berries for the Thrush

A Robin jumped from branch to branch in the hedgerow to welcome us home recently. Brendan leaves food out every morning for the birds. The Robin is a regular visitor.

Last week, cold winds blew in over The British Isles bringing snow overwhelming homes and roads. Red alert warnings have been given to warn people to stay at home.

Someone told me that a Tesco Extra near where she lives was sold out of food before the freeze. People were making sure they had food to keep them over the cold spell. Birds need extra food too during cold weather. New birds came to our bird table recently, blackbirds, wagtails, chaffinch and sparrow. There is a wildlife display as we have our breakfast inside.

A tree down the garden had many red berries on it. I noticed a flurry of activity around it. I looked closer. A number of song thrushes were feeding greedily on the berries. They flew back and forth from the forest nearby. One bird sat on a branch and kept watch. If any other birds come to the tree it drove them away. Some blackbirds tried to get the bounty. A fight broke out till the intruders flew off.

The snow has melted. The thrush are staying in the forest. The shelves in Tesco will be filled again. Life will return to normal. The danger has past. Our regular visitor, the Robin will sit on a branch in the hedgerow waiting for the door to open.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/branch/

An Invitation to be Still

Come stop.

Do you hear the click, click, click?

A flurry of Turnstones,

Along the shoreline,
Looking for insects,
Tasty, moist morsels,
On up-turned pebbles.
Ignore your ringing phone.
Do you see their darting bodies,
Brown and white, camouflaged.
Their beaks turn over stones
Among the seaweed
That glistens in the sun.
I cannot see God
But I see his Glory
In these little creatures.
Forget about shopping.
Don’t worry,
Dinner can wait.
Come stay a while.