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There's my answer. Some soft, washed wool for Robin to line its nest for coming brood - but not red !
Later on I returned.
I could hear Robin some way off in trees and couldn't seem to attract it by 'clucking'. So I tried to contact bird with a technique I had read about where you push a picture into an animal's mind through its third eye. I sent it pictures of a little nest with five eggs, all cosy with newly cut bits of woolly jumper I had brought with me.
Within a minute I heard whir of wings and Robin was standing on end of bench where I sat. I slowly raised my arm and dropped one of wool pieces down near bird. There was no communication as such but I gained a strong impression I was being scolded. Here follows a rough translation of what I believe bird replied:
"Take yer stupid peices of wool home with you, there last thing we need round here. The moss here is fantastic, it is soft, there's loads of it and has much better water draining qualities than them soggy bits of cloth. If I use those damp will rot my chicks in nest. Fat lot you know. If you really want to make friends go and get me some fat juicy worms and bring them here."
I checked moss. Because of clean air here, there is loads of moss and lichen for lining nests. It was certainly much less likely to get damp than my wool. Suitably chastised I returned home. I saw several Robins on way home, they kind of made themselves conspicuous by landing in a tree nearby and starting to sing as I walked by - or was it same Robin ?
But later, on a mornings gardening with my son, I persuaded him to pick up some worms and save them for an expedition to see tame Robin that afternoon. The aim was to get Robin to take a worm from his hand, which in his words would be 'cool'.
We sat there for about 45 minutes, making Robin clucking noises but I could see his attention was wearing thin. He listened to bird song and we identified a pheasant, several other Robin songs from over river, exciting cry of a hunting buzzard and some other bird I couldn't identify that makes a noise like 'Michupichu - Michupichu' ! We decided to 'set worms free' and headed into copse behind us to find non-salty soil above highest tide mark and placed them down where they could wriggle back into earth.
It was then I saw Robin, high up in one of trees. Three Robins. I sat down next to worms and stage whispered to Wills "Walk over here and sit down quietly". But it was too late. Quick as a flash of bright red Robin swooped in and bit off one end of one of worms, fluttering back up to a nearby tree. Wills sat down next to me and we picked up a worm each and held it out. The Robin fluttered around from bush to bush, keeping a beady eye on us at all times. Then it flew from a bush, landed on my son's head for a moment, and flew off to another one.
It came closer as we stretched out our worms for taking but just then two large dogs ran through copse, breaking moment. It was Mel with her daughters, Emily and Hazel, out walking dogs. Wills was glad to find some people his own age to play with and we went back to Mel's house for a cup of tea.
THE ADVENTURE OF ARTHUR by Simon Mitchell (fiction)
This is a fantastic story for the 'eco-aware', based on a funded walk project built near Exeter, UK. Both you and your children will love this story of a 'Nature Boy'. Begin now with a free online slideshow at: