Am I letting this romantic novel writing business addle my brains? For the past couple of days I’ve been following a tragic story of doomed love that’s had me wiping away my tears on more than one occasion: Romeo and Juliette, Dante and Beatrix? No, more like an x rated version of Sylvester and Tweety Pie. The heartrending tale of two little blue tits who dared to dream of setting up a home high in the top of our birch tree. The villain of the story, as if I had to tell you, our old tabby cat, Bertie.
I swear the two little birds fell in love on Valentine’s Day. Well that’s the first time I noticed them, fluttering their wings and calling to each other, chasing in and around the branches of the old apple tree. Looking into holes and gaps in the ivied fence, they flitted and flirted - will she, won’t she - their love affair carried on for what seemed like weeks, before they settled on a home together in the des res nest box, way above cat height in that most romantic of trees, a silver birch.
Then it was beaks full of feather, cat hair, moss, anything they could find lying around on the ground beneath their tree to make their starter home comfortable. With eggs on the way, they’d no time to delay. All going so well, until yesterday.
A mewing cry was the first warning and Bertie dropped a still warm, blue and yellow bundle at my feet. Please not one of the birdie sweethearts from the top of the birch tree. Alarm calling twitters from outside told me the very worst had happened. One too many forays on the ground meant Bertie had done for one of my favourites.
With my bad cat locked upstairs, watching from a bedroom window and my heart near breaking, I carried the little body outside and, in the vain hope it was just in shock, laid it on an upturned flower pot under the tree, just in case... I waited as its mate sang even louder from a branch overhead, then flew down, in closer and closer spirals, singing its distress all the while. In vain the little bird flew in to tweak its mate’s feathers, pecking and pulling, each time becoming increasingly more desperate. Then in its own little birdie version of despair, it jumped all over its now stiffening mate in what can only be described as an avian attempt at resuscitation. (Okay, I know, this is stretching the anthropomorphism too far, but you weren’t there to see it and I was.)
Finally, unable to bear the little birds grief no longer. I fetched a trowel and with it hopping around my feet, I lined a hole with moss and buried the body of its mate under the birch tree. The memory haunts me as I type. The survivor’s out there now, still calling and calling from its lonely perch. Stopping only to drive off any other blue tit that comes near or to collect small scraps of moss and feathers, even cat hair, and carry them into its now solitary home.
Blue tit females have a reputation for infidelity, but not this one. I swear she's mourning the loss of the one and only bird for her, the very love of her life. Honest!