The jackdaws are nesting in the chimney again, a sure sign that spring is here. The inside of the chimney is quite wide, and runs behind up the stone wall of our bedroom. Four years ago, when we first heard these ghostly scrabblings, we feared rats. Mice I can deal with, especially if they're as cute as 'Enry. But rats - no. However, the cheerful 'chack-chacks' reassured us. Weeks later we heard the thin, hungry cries of the chicks - the nest must be almost parallel with our bed, and never fails to get the cats in a tizzy, as they try to work out why the wall is cheeping. Every year since, they have returned to raise a new family, as do other pairs in surrounding cottages. Such a flurry of avian excitement as the fledglings emerge in early summer, gawkily stumbling on the chimney pots and roof ridges, the adults chattering encouragement and flapping about nervously. Like most anxious parents, they want their chicks to learn independence, but can't help fussing and fretting. There was a horrible moment in that first year, when I lit the woodburner in late spring. And then remembered the little family in the chimney stack...visions of pitiful charred corpses, with beaks still gaping for food came to mind. But we were woken the next morning by their chattering, so they must nest out of harms way. I daresay that generations of jackdaws have been nesting here for as long as the cottage has been built, 240 odd years and have worked out where it's safe to settle. They are such social birds, and so intelligent. They are welcome to our chimney.
I've made a bit of a meal out of the artworks for 'girly giftbook'. They were only small paintings, but seemed to take forever. They're done now and here they are ready to be packed up.
Now I'm down to two jobs - still lots to do for 'woodland creatures', and a new poster for 5-7 magazine. I've got an urge to start a new toy painting; poor old 'Celia' has been nursing her egg for months, (and it is nearly Easter). Time for a bit of personal work, I think, and indulge myself.