Jonathan: Yesterday was another glorious late-winter day, and I made the most of it by catching up with vital outdoor jobs long delayed by bad weather. Feeding the soil remains top priority, if we are to be ready for the planting and sowing in early spring, and whilst getting compost out from the compost heap onto the growing areas is of course included in that, fetching seaweed is more urgent because there’s no guarantee it will still be there in a few days time! So, after lunch I set off, again, with the van and trailer for seaweed. This time I went to another beach where there was only a shallow rise – and firmer ground – from the beach to the lane, and this meant I loaded the trailer more fully (32 barrows instead of about 24), but also managed it in less time – and with less risk of an early death.
Back at An Garradh Mor, I started offloading and spreading on the west side of the garden – more rhubarb, but also redcurrants and blackcurrants, but I’d started the job too late and I had to leave a third of it until this morning. When I took the first barrow up to the strawberry cold-frames, I caught sight of a rather plump female blackbird quietly picking over the seaweed that, I’d spread yesterday. The colours of her plumage was so close to that of the seaweed that she was well camouflaged, and it was only her flinging about of the seaweed that had caught my attention: yet she was no more than a metre or so from me, and seemed untroubled by my presence or movements. She stayed close to the low branches of the gooseberry bushes – presumably as a defensive strategy against predators – including – potentially – our own cats – and was feeding on tiny white grubs in the seaweed (there are millions of them amongst seaweed that’s started to decay whilst still on the foreshore) and seemed quite prepared to eat all of them. For one minute I counted her feed-rate: 97 grubs were consumed! I first saw her at about 10am, and – unless she retired for a siesta whilst Denise and I were indoors having lunch, she remained feeding by just two fruit bushes until 5pm – when ended work for the day, and never once did she react to my working in such close proximity. A well-dined blackbird indeed!