It’s forty years since I started my nature notebooks. I was twelve years old and lived in a tiny terrace in Oldham. There was a bare back yard leading to a cobbled alley. It had a single apple tree, planted on the day I was born, a postage-stamp sized lawn with a few vicious rose bushes surrounding it, and a line of blackcurrant bushes. The only visitors were House Sparrows. At least that was until we started putting a net of peanuts out in winter and then the Greenfinches appeared. Bright green birds in my garden were a delight. A flash of yellow on their wings and tails meant they were as exotic and as tropical as parrots to me. I watched, entranced, from the kitchen window for hours.
Here’s my drawing from 1976:
Today I’m at Exminster Marshes and there are a small group of birds in the bushes. There are Blue Tits, Great Tits, Chaffinches, Blackbirds, Robins and, yes, a few Greenfinches. Here’s my photograph from 2016:
Three of the most important features of my childhood were boredom, access to a library and a pack of pencil crayons. Here are my observations of Greenfinch behaviour from 1976:
I can see that the group of birds in the bushes are all feeding on seed which someone has left on the verge. The Greenfinch flies down with its beak open and a Chaffinch flies off. Greenfinches; still more aggressive forty years later. Me; still as fascinated to observe them.