I just couldn’t believe that those overwintering maggots were still asleep. Like lazy teenagers, I decided to tip them out of their cocoon beds. I turned the tray out onto the garden table and started to examine the small cases carefully. I noticed that some were blowing across the table in the breeze. These ones had a hole cut neatly in the top showing that my maggot had flown. Some were still whole but seemed dead. No movement from these guys and then I discovered the horror. Two of them had managed to wriggle their heads out, but were then trapped in the shell unable to fly free. I could only imagine the struggle they had as their cocoon protector became their cocoon confinement.
So the miracle of nature once more displayed. A wriggling maggot laid late last summer, slept inside a safe cocoon till the following spring. In the meantime it had morphed into a perfectly formed fly. When a caterpillar does that trick we celebrate with best selling children’s books charting its progress. When a maggot achieves a similarly amazing transformation we screw up our noses and look the other way. Can you imagine a book called The Very Hungry Maggot?
Always looking out for the little guy, I have decided to create a maggot sanctuary in the back garden. It shouldn’t be difficult. Put some rotting food out and hey presto, maggots appear. Instead of flushing them away with disinfectant I will simply leave them to work their own magic and turn into beautiful bluebottles. I’m pretty sure that the last verse of the famous Burt Bacharach song went, ‘What the world needs now, are flies more flies, that’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.’ More flies, more sparrows, more frogs, more fun. Well that’s my philosophy. May get a t.shirt printed with the slogan, ‘Give maggots a chance’.
There was more drama in the garden this month. We were adopted by a pigeon who we called Dizzy due to the fact that she spent most of her time turning round in circles. It was clear that her GPS had gone as when she tried to take off she flew straight into the shed or the fence. Most of the time she just sat in the garden, hunched up and lonely, waiting for ….
Not sure what she was waiting for actually, but she became another member of the family as she sat side by side with the cats on warm April afternoons. She didn’t move when I went to put the washing out or bring the washing in. She just looked up at me with a staring yellow eye and felt safe. And I thought she was safe as neither of our cats knew what to do with a whole pigeon. Then, on the fifth day Dizzy was gone with just a few scattered feathers to tell the tale. Someone had ambushed her and being so trusting and so disorientated she was easy prey. I looked around in the shed to see if she was hiding in there. A few stray feathers were lying inside. I looked outside the shed down the back alley to see where the thief had taken her, but the trail went cold. Not a single feather. In fact no feathers in any direction apart from the ones at the scene of the crime. Now any four legged mugger would have carried off its prize and left a trail of feathers in the process, so was this the return of the sparrowhawk? Spycam, as usual missed all the action.
There were of course witnesses. The other birds. The pigeons in particular would not come down into the garden to feed for quite a while after the ‘event’. A few sat on the tray but none ventured down onto the patio. They knew. They had seen the deed and were now wary. So wary in fact that for days the seed sat on the ground untouched. But eventually hunger gets the better of us all and slowly, slowly they returned.
Life goes on, and into the garden came the first baby bird. A tiny bluetit who sat up in the branches of the tree waiting to be fed tasty fatball titbits. The other birds have babies as well now. The starlings clean out the mealworm feeder by mid morning back and forth with beaks full of protein. They also like the suet pellets, just the right size for small starling throats. Soon the starling babies will fledge and visit the garden for the first time, just as their parents did before them. There will be the usual squabbles and everything in sight will be covered in white guano. When your own life gets complicated it does the soul good to sit out in the garden and watch the cycle of life repeat with a reassuring regularity. Whatever the dilemma, whatever the crisis there is the certainty that life goes on.