29 Sep 2011

Fairies and their bottles

When I was a child, youngish, but not so young that I didn't know what I was doing, little fairy martins used to build their lovely mud bottle nests under the old bridge near my grandmother's home. My cousin Vee and I used to ride our bikes - old bone shakers with no chain guards so you had to wrap your bell-bottoms around your leg and secure them with lacky bands or else risk coming a cropper half way down the great big hill on the way to the bridge when the denim got stuck in the chain - and take pot shots at the nests.

We'd gather stones and then line up several yards away and just let fly. You'd get one point for hitting a bottle; two for putting a hole in it and five for completely dislodging it from the bridge leaving just a muddy ring to show where it had been.

Oh the shame!!!!!

Now I don't remember ever hitting a nest with birds still in it, but I wouldn't put it past us. I can certainly remember the little birds swooping and wheeling in flight above our heads while we were there, so it is quite likely, in fact.

Last week these giddy little birds started building their magnificent bottle nests above the door of the Catholic church across the road. Jemimah and I have been watching their colony grow with great delight. They way these little birds construct their neat homes out of pellets of mud is just marvellous to witness and it pleases me that Jemimah is so protective of the martins and their homes. There is no likelihood of a repeat performance of my wanton vandalism in this generation, at least.

I wish I could show you a photo of the martins themselves, but they are such busy little things that they are impossible to catch on film. I can show you the fairy bottles though.

Aren't they clever?

How could I be so foolish as to damage the likes of these?

What on earth was I thinking of?


  1. Your description of riding your bikes brought back such memories! If I didn't have a rubber band or a piece of string, I'd have to tuck it into my knee sock. Then, I would risk stretching it out so much that it wouldn't stay up on its own anymore.

    Yea, those homes are delightful, but I can see the enticement to try to knock them over....

  2. We get the swallows along the jetty ~ even nests under it! They are marvellous. So glad time has adjusted all our thinking about God's marvellous creatures ~ though I amit I see no purpose for ticks, leaches, fleas & mozzies ~ & sharks are pretty unlovable too! Blessings.

  3. Oh my! How delightful is that! Green with envy I am! lol That and the ballet too! :)

  4. What amazing birds! Thanks for sharing a bit of your areas nature with us!

  5. Beautiful, clever little creatures! We were sometimes vandals too, to my shame :-( Perhaps in our naive and selfish youth, without thought of Who had made them, we just thought that everything was for our entertainment.
    I also had a time warp happening at your bike riding description. Lacky bands, however, I have found to be a Mexican saying which we have not adapted up here in the north. I first heard it used when I worked with a "southerner".
    Jeanne, are you still having trouble commenting at some blogs? I have found that the blogs where I had to use Anon or Name/url will no longer accept me and in fact, my comments disappear! It has narrowed my ability to comment quite a bit:-(

  6. Thank you for sharing these pictures (and birds) with us. I've never seen fairy martin homes and I love nature so I really enjoyed this, however sorry to hear about the target practice! Live and learn huh?

    Cindy Bee

  7. Thanks, Jeanne, for the photos! I've never even heard of fairy martins, and I've certainly never seen nests like these in my neck of the woods.

    I used to catch my bell bottoms in my bike chain, too. I wasn't clever enough to think of banding them, but sometimes I rolled them up!


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