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
It is the eleventh of February today. I am recording the activity of birds in my garden. I live along the Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland. The warm morning has invited all kinds of birds to flit about in the garden. A wren stays low along the hedge. A robin jumps about among the plant pots.
The busiest birds I see are starlings. There are three pairs flying back and forth. Each pair had found a nook in the old wall adjoining my garden. One bird flys in with a small twig in his mouth. He didn’t exit for five minutes. He must be building his nest, preparing for young. I am excited to discover birds building their nests in my garden and so early in the spring. I will look forward to catching the starlings’ progress each morning.
It is relaxing to sit quiet and patient keeping an eye on the nest sites. My breakfast dishes need washed, benches need cleared, floor needs brushed. I want to make some phone calls. E mails need checked. All can wait.
I am bird watching from the comfort of my kitchen. I don’t have to go for a drive to a special bird watching sight, or get wrapped up in warm clothes to face the elements. Watching the birds is taking my mind off all immediate troubles. There are many things that could cause me to worry or fret. Instead I am looking at birds.
Jesus said “Look at the birds.”
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:25-26, 33-34 NIV)
A pair of doves rested on a bare branch. One flew off with a low moan. The other followed. I hope they return.
Later in the morning one single bird was singing from the treetop in my garden. I think it was a Great tit. He was announcing loud and clear. “This is my domain. He was attracting his mate to join him.” I will be looking to see where his nest is.