We are fortunate to have a fairly large garden, and live in an area that is reasonably well populated with large trees. As a result, we have always enjoyed a good variety of bird visitors to our garden, and have recorded some 50 different species over time.
We do not employ a gardener, and with added responsibilities this past year, the upkeep of our garden has slipped somewhat, and we have “allowed” the back part of our garden to grow wild.
This troubled us somewhat until we realised that we had begun seeing previously unrecorded bird-life in our garden, culminating with visits from two different owl species.
Although we did not actually see the Marsh Owls, we on two different occasions found feathers belonging to them in our garden, and heard their calls at night.
Then one night in August, Einstein and I awoke at 2am to the distinct and echoing hu-hooo of a Spotted Eagle Owl.
We lay for while listening until, overcome by curiosity, Einstein went to investigate. “Come look here!!!”, he called urgently a minute later, and I sprang out of bed and joined him at the sitting-room window to gaze in awe at the perfect profile of the large owl perched on the tip of our neighbour’s rooftop, outlined against the night sky and hooting mournfully.
Deciding that this was an event too special to be missed, we woke Little Einstein, and the three of us crowded together at the window.
We were rewarded a moment later when the owl spread its wings and swooped silently down to land on our fence, literally a couple of metres from the window where we were transfixed.
A moment later, a second owl softly landed in the spot on the neighbour’s roof vacated by its mate and there they sat hooting at each other.
We enjoyed this spectacle for several minutes before they flew off, leaving us grinning delightedly at each other from this special experience.
Well, following this unique moment, we decided to leave the back garden wild, and have since been further rewarded for this decision.
During the past three years or so, a small swarm of bees have regularly returned to hive under Little Einstein’s playhouse, and we have left them to it and stayed clear during the summer months.
Since our decision to leave the garden wild, two more swarms have “moved in” – one into the hollow trunk of our birdbath, and another into an old tyre lying under our apricot tree.
Inspired by our visitors, Einstein (an inventor at heart) began to research bees and took to his design programme to design a hive.
This weekend, he began to build the hive.
And so begins a new and exciting chapter in the life of our family … bee-keeping!