Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Clean Your Drains Sir?

This morning I was pottering round the garden waiting for the postman when I noticed a female Blackbird disappear down into one of the drains. After a while it came back up with something in its beak but I was too far away to see what it was. I assumed it was looking for snails or slugs which live down there.

From Blogger Pictures

It is quite a drop, maybe ten inches, to the grating and with the three pipes which drain into it it is a tight squeeze to get my hand and arm down there to clear it out. She disappeared completely so she must have gone right down to the grating.

I though no more of it and carried on taking a few photos of the plants for future use. I can't resist putting up this one of a group of Narcissus as I really like the contrast between the yellow and the white.


Meanwhile Bobby was taking the chance to Sunbathe while he waited for the postman.

Waiting for the Postman

A while later, as I came out of the conservatory, there was a female blackbird watching me with an expression which definitely relayed the feeling that I was too close and in the way.

Female Blackbird

Not long after that I spotted her once again disappearing down the drain and up she came again with a full beak. Is that really what I think it is .........

Female Blackbird

Yes .... definitely ... a clump of soggy, smelly leaves!
I have read that birds do not have a very strong sense of smell. Good job they don't!

Female Blackbird

She turned and faced the camera square on and finally flew up to the roof top.

Female Blackbird

Then she flew out of sight. Is she really going to construct a soggy nest? What is wrong with all the dry material scattered round the garden? Maybe she has some other use for old wet leaves. Life is full of mysteries. At least I am getting my drain cleared cheeply (couldn't resist that).


After Mark from Beating the bounds left a comment I had a look on the RSPB site to see what it said there about Blackbirds and their nests. Apparently they plaster the nest with mud before they line it with grass. There is little or no mud available round here as we have had precious little rain for weeks so I guess this enterprising female Blackbird has found a substitute.


  1. Oh nice one John - I wonder where her nest is?

    I hope the Postman finally arrived; although Bobby didn't look as though he was waiting with mounting excitement - more like enjoying the warmth to have a snooze.

  2. Interesting observation John. Can't think why she would want soggy leaves though.
    Those Narcissus look really cheery in the sunlight.

  3. Lovely photo of the narcissus - not a flower that I can enjoy here in the tropics. Interesting observations of the blackbird - maybe like paper-mache the wet leaves will shape the way she wants them to?

  4. Tricia: I must try to find out where the Blackbird goes.
    The postman went straight past so that's 3 1st class items which will take at least 2 days to get here. As for Bobby, the eyes and the mouth sleep but the ears are always awake. One was listening forwards for the postie and the other backwards for any passers by behind the property.

    HM: I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the Blackbird disappear down. She was obviously parcticed at it as she had no difficulty getting out again.
    For me the Sunlight was just right on the Narcissus - off to one side which made the yellow light up.

    Mick: Well - you do have many other beautiful flowers there to enjoy which we would have to keep indoors.
    You may be right about using the wet leaves to line the nest. It would be great to find out for sure.

  5. Extraordinary behaviour! Is it worth sending the photos to the RSPB? They use shots like that in their magazine. You might find out whether this has been observed elsewhere. And you might win a pair of binoculars!

  6. Thanks Beatingthebounds. Following your comment I had a look on the RSPB site. There it mentions that Blackbirds plaster their nests with mud. That information wasn't on the other sites I checked earlier. It has been so dry here for weeks that there is little mud around so maybe soggy leaves are second best. It is certainly an enterprising female to go down there to find them.

  7. Well I never! I was amazed by your first photo and even more amazed to see what she eventually collected. In my experience (not that I make a habit of sticking my head down drains you understand!) those leaves would be unhygienic to say the least. Let's hope she doesn't catch salmonella! I think you may well have it right about the lack of damp nesting material in your area, how very ingenious of her.
    What beautiful Narcissi you have there, the colours (as I once said to Shirl of one of her flower photos) reminds me of the inside of a Cadburys Creme Egg!!
    Another lovely photo of Bobby too, Louis says he hopes enjoyed his snooze in the sun.

  8. Hi Jan: Fortunately the waste pipes to that sink come from the garage sink (the previous owners had the good sense to put hot and cold running water in there) and the bathroom and not the kitchen though I worried about residual chemicals. The one from the kitchen I keep covered up.

    I like the Creme Egg description - very apt.

    Bobby says he always enjoys his Sunny snoozes.


Thank you for visiting. Hope you enjoyed the pictures. Any comment, or correction to any information or identification I get wrong, is most welcome. John

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