For Mary Oliver RIP

On the morning

that I awoke,

my head full of cold,

body aching,

I opened the bedroom curtains

looked out the window

and was greeted by a charm of finches

gathering in my Cherry Tree.

It had rained hard all night,

for the first time in months.

Raindrops dotted the branches like fairy lights

and flame rose hips decorated bare limbs in bright baubles.

How beautiful the garden looks I thought

on this crisp January day

when I only expect grey.

As I look around my little patch,

news of the death of Mary Oliver on my mind,

I see the first green extending from the seagull rose,

it is begging to be seen.

There is a clutch of snowdrops under the apple tree,

delicate and naive.

The Helibores are full of flower.

that pale green shade of white

and the cottage rose is still a mass of pink on the trellis.

There are fuchsia bells ringing out from the depths of the ivy

and a sudden moment of bold sunshine

illuminates the garden,

in light

made possible only

with passing rain.

I pause a moment,

grateful for the ability to look

and see,

this magic on my doorstep.


19 January 2019



Birds and feeding

April 2018

It is Spring. The weather is finally heating up after a very long, cold Winter here in the Emerald Isle. We had a few snow storms which is unusual but Global Climate Change is clearly visible all over the world now. Lovelock was right, Gaia is revenging. But here, in my little patch of earth, I continue to work with what comes to me, what is and deal with it.

The birds needed help this Winter and I got so much joy from watching them feed. Daily visits are wonderful and have become a big part of my life. Even Athena, my tortoiseshell cat checks the birdfeeder every morning. She sits on the window looking out at them. I make sure she is fed too!! They live in harmony thankfully.

Today, I have Starlings, Sparrows, Robins, Finches, Black Caps, Siskins, Great tits, blue tits, yellow tits, coal tits, long tailed tits, bull finches and blackbirds, trush, doves, pidgeons etc. I got a lovely bird table since too. My gatden is full of life. Some days I take time to be still, watch the activity. The black birds feed on the ground only. The Black cap and red wing love apples. The long tail tits come in groups of 6 or more at a time. They love the fat balls. The seed has of course fallen onto the soil beneath so I have to take them out as they grow. My husband fixed a round baking tin beneath the finch seed to catch what they spill. It helped but there is still a lot of black seed scattered everywhere, caught in the Hydrangea leaves and new buds.

We have nests already in the Beech hedge which is about 5 foot thick and 7 foot high, 20 foot long.  I saw House Martins in my neighbours garden last week. So nice they are back for the Summer.

I got new compost bins and am recycling waste with gusto. I put tea leaves and coffee grounds directly on soil and plants. My wormery has been put into the compost bin now. It can work best with nature. I doubled the worms in the containter though. I got a large container to put logs and kindling in so the garden is more ordered now and functioning well. I got a small greenhouse and planted lettuce, rochet, chard, carrots. Tomatoes. Leeks that are all growing in soil now. The garden teaches me how to pace life, step by step growing, patience and the rewards.

I will update again over the months but for now, all is growing and existing perfectly as nature would want it.


Down by the rocks

Starlings gather in murmation,

they blacken the sky in flight,


But on this late November day

so crisp and bright

I have no questions,

everything is clear

as I walk the sunlit path

along the beach,

the wind behind me,

sun low in the sky

lighting my way home.






Greystones Blackbirds (Lon Dubh)

November 15, 2017

It was another sunny start, cooler again at 3 degrees in the seaside town of Greystones, Ireland. We have resident blackbirds in the garden in our hedge. They share the space with a Robin family. I really love the bright yellow of that beak the male bird has and the portly brown of the female.

They particularly like insects, worms and berries. I have a worm bin in the garden with a lid on it because I am sure they would be all gone if the Blackbirds got their beaks near them. The worms have multiplied to double their amount since I started the bin in July last. The soil they create is like gold dust. I will harvest the soil around Xmas and fill the bin with new soil for them to work on.

I love the fact that my garden is organic in so many ways. I like this natural life.

The blackbird has a lovely mellow song and is also known to sing during the night. It sounds a bit like a flute. They prefer woodlands but are seen all over the countryside hopping through hedges searching for worms in my lawn. They are very healthy and lovers of fruit, seeds and insects. Young males start to sing in February. Older birds sing from March to July. The mating season is March to July. Pairs stay together for life. They build cup shaped nests on trees and shrubs and the female lays 3 to 5 blue/green eggs covered with red spots. Incubation period is about 17 days.  Young fledglings usually leave the next after 13 days. They can survive for 16 to 20 years but they rarely live more than 2.5 years. It is a member of the Trush family.

I have named my Blackbirds Mick and Mel.






Greystones Birds (Robins or Spideóg)

Monday 13 November

It is a still morning, about 12 degrees Celsius and the birds were feeding in groups this morning. It was like one happy family with Robins, Sparrows and Tits feeding together. There was even a young Magpie in the mix.

This time of year with Robins featuring in Christmas Ads and cards, I thought I would write a little about Robins and feature my friend Maxwell, the Father Robin who lives and loves in my Beech Hedge. He and his wife Maisie have returned each Winter for a number of years.

Robins were originally a woodland bird but are now very comfortable in suburbs like my garden. They perch on the wheelbarrow or close to where you are digging not because they are particularly friendly but because they are partial to a worm or two.  They nest in discarded buckets or pots and their red breast is a reminder of the blood of Christ at Christmas time.

All birds are territorial but the Robin is particularly so.  A dispute starts with males singing at each other, trying to get to a higher position on a tree or wall to show off their breast most effectively. This usually ends the challenge, with one giving in to the other. Sometimes a fight breaks out which can result in death. For this reason, Robins are born without a red breast, and don’t acquire it until their first coat is shed.

They have three to five families a year and about five eggs at a time usually from March through to Winter. They are often seen and heard singing at night under lamp light. They are a pretty and courageous little bird, determined to defend their patch to the bitter end, literally.


robin again

Greystones back garden blog

Sunday 12 November 2017

There is a bright wind washed sky this morning and the leaves continue to fall. My deck is golden, the flame leaves from the Cherry tree a Winter delight. I am gathering the leaves daily into a large pile for the compost bin.

When I was making my breakfast this morning I sat watching the birds feed. There was a Sisken among the Great Tits.  I have named her Sally. Siskens are part of the Finch family. They have fine pointed beaks and forked tails.  Males are mainly yellow, females muted tones with yellow markings. Sally lives over in Alder Wood. She is originally from Scotland and still has a wee accent. Her Grandfather was from Glasgow and Grandmother from the Hebridies.

There was no sign of Maxwel Robin yet so the Great Tits, Blue Tits and Coal Tits wete able to feast in comfort. I am sure I will see him later. He is having a well deserved Sunday lie in like all of us.



Greystones Birds and things…

11 November 2017
The back garden bird feeding station is most popular because it is in a quiet spot and close to all of the trees/shrubs so birds hop in and out to feed.

Birds need to consume between 25 and 50% of their body weight each day. In Winter, when foraging time is limited to the short days, Blue tits need to feed every 12 to 15 seconds. It can be tough to survive if you are a bird.

Peanuts are not exactly nuts. They grown in the ground and are more like lentils. They are ideal for the small birds. Sunflower seeds are very high in oil content and great for calories. Cereals like oats re high in carbs. Mixed seeds are great options for garden birds. Water is often in short supply so make sure you leave some for drinking and if possible for bathing.

Over the past 50 years the numbers of many so called ‘common’ birds have dramatically declined. We don’t know for certain why this is, but changing agricultural practices and a lack of food in the summer and winter are likely to have taken their toll. Sometimes when we look out of the window, it is difficult to believe that song thrushes, sparrows and starlings are all struggling to survive in the countryside, but they are. These, among many others, are now red listed as birds of extreme conservation concern.

By supplementary feeding at the right times of year, we can make sure the garden supports birds. If enough gardens provide food, water and shelter in a neighbourhood, it creates essential corridors for wildlife to move along and live in.


Birds and daily things…

10 November 2017. Windy but sunny mornings today. 8 degrees.

When I sat down after my porridge to chat with the birds, there were none to be seen but it is a bit too windy! From the sofa in the den, i look out at the feeding station we bought a week ago. I placed it in the garden bed by the hydrangeas. Today the hydrangea heads are rusty brown and the leaves are falling. There are two pink buds on the climbing rose that spans the garden wall. with milder Winters, roses bloom all year round. Rita’s pelargonium geranium is blooming again. The dividing wall is awash with pink. She died in the late ’90’s but is remembered all year round with one slip from her geranium. She was such a beautiful person.

There are vast blue skies on this November day.  The trees are golden. It feels good to be alive. I bought a book by Chris Packham called Back Garden Nature Reserve. I got it in the post today and look forward to reading it later.

It is time for my walk. I have to try to lower my cholesterol in the coming 6 months as it is at 6.6 which is too high. I will take the seafront route today from the SouthBeach to the North Beach. I must lolm out for the Robin family down Bramble Way. They are related to our Maxwell, his older brother Rupert I believe.


Irish Birds Blog

Wednesday November 8, 2017. 

It was a beautiful day – chilly – only 3 degrees celsius but with bright sunlight all morning.

Last week Jim and I bought some Bird Feeders for our garden. It is time to get closer to nature and where better than in our back garden.




We have resident Robins living in the Beech Hedge and I knew they would be a bit put out with this open invitation to all birds in the area to come and feed on nuts and seeds. The poor little coal tits and blue tits are being chased over the wall by the Father Robin. I call him Maxwell. There is another Robin standing guard on the compost bin and another on top of the Silver Birch.

in spite of their protests and threatening behaviour, there is continuous feeding at the feeding station. Blackbirds, Thrush, various Tits, Sparrows, Magpies and Starlings come to say hello. The little Sparrow that came today told me his name was Clive. He lives over in Ivy Terrace near the train station. His Dad died in storm Ophelia in October leaving him to care for his Mother and siblings. He seemed really sweet.




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