A Bird In The Hand..

I’d asked Mike to remove a low hanging branch from the oak tree at the bottom of the 84 steps.

“If you want that one off, you’ll have to move your bird.”

“What bird?”

“The pheasant.. he’s under that bush.” Mike pointed to a clump of greenery at the base of the tree.

It seemed plausible. The scrubby area behind the dustbins had been requisitioned long ago by Pheasant Strategic Command. But peer as I might through the shrubbery I couldn’t see Ptolemy anywhere.

Mike ascended the tree, chainsaw in hand. It wasn’t until he had begun to cut that I spotted the bird. Right at the very back of the bush and directly below the partially severed branch.

“Stop. STOP..!!” Much flailing of arms from below and grumbling from on high.

Well, I called and called. Pleaded and cajoled. I tried to imitate what I hoped might be alluring pheasanty clucks. The brown eyes stared back but Ptolemy remained unmoved. I went to the shed for bird seed and spread some out on the path. Still no response from the tangle of undergrowth beyond.

Mike was getting impatient. “He’ll just have to take his chances.”

“He will NOT! You’ll have to finish the job later.”

But, no, he had the perfect position in the tree, the branch was half cut through and so Mike wasn’t shifting either.

There was only one thing for it. I would have to place myself between the branch and the pheasant’s imminent demise. I thought I might be able to catch the bough as it fell, it was only a small one after all. The chainsaw roared back into life.

Branches can be heavier than they look. Especially those made of oak. The downward momentum carried it rather lower into the bush than would have been ideal. There was a sort of strangled squawk from somewhere down below. But I did at least manage to deflect it, enough to cast it aside on the path.

Mike climbed back down the tree.

I inspected a broken nail.

Ptolemy, rather too self-importantly I felt, marched out from under the bush and started pecking at his seed.


2017-11-13T09:23:18+00:00May 9th, 2013|Tags: , |


  1. snowbird May 9, 2013 at 1:57 pm - Reply

    Lol…..delighted to hear that only Ptolemy’s pride and one finger nail got injured. He really is a stunningly beautiful bird.xxxx

    • Jessica May 9, 2013 at 7:24 pm - Reply

      He is very beautiful. I just wish he didn’t dine on my flowers too!

  2. Countryside Tales May 9, 2013 at 2:19 pm - Reply

    Well of course he would….you only have to see those red cheeks to understand why he feels supreme. I love the fact Mike describes him as “your bird” !

    • Jessica May 9, 2013 at 7:26 pm - Reply

      He refers to all the wildlife as ‘mine’, but most especially when they are causing trouble in some way!

  3. Jo May 9, 2013 at 3:07 pm - Reply

    He’s got a mind of his own, that bird. Glad there was no real harm done.

    • Jessica May 9, 2013 at 7:28 pm - Reply

      The bird rules the roost Jo. We are but mere irritations.

  4. Jill Chandler May 9, 2013 at 3:32 pm - Reply

    Hoping he easnt guarding his harem sitting on eggs, but I think you would have known that by now!

    • Jessica May 9, 2013 at 7:33 pm - Reply

      That’s a thought. I’m pretty sure there wasn’t another bird under there..

  5. Em May 9, 2013 at 3:43 pm - Reply

    That bird, or rather, YOUR bird, is a liability. So glad we’re blessed with a pheasant free environment! I shouldn’t speak too soon….

    • Jessica May 9, 2013 at 7:36 pm - Reply

      They are lovely but do get up to mischief. Dust bathing in the borders is another favourite trick.

  6. frayedattheedge May 9, 2013 at 4:40 pm - Reply

    Oh dear, you missed the chance to have (slightly squashed) pheasant casserole!!

    • Jessica May 9, 2013 at 7:37 pm - Reply

      Anne! I couldn’t eat Ptolemy..!

  7. jabblog May 9, 2013 at 4:46 pm - Reply

    Oh, Ptolemy, you diced with death but not nearly as much as your protector and branch deflector!

    • Jessica May 9, 2013 at 7:41 pm - Reply

      I’d really hoped the bird seed would have got him out.. usually works!

  8. Abby May 9, 2013 at 4:55 pm - Reply

    You spoil that bird! Superb photo. x

    • Jessica May 9, 2013 at 7:42 pm - Reply

      Couldn’t have faced squashed bird!
      Thanks Abby (one of Mike’s).

  9. Sue May 9, 2013 at 5:43 pm - Reply

    Brilliant photo!!

    I KNEW you loved that bird …….. in spite of all his attacking ways 🙂

    • Jessica May 9, 2013 at 7:46 pm - Reply

      I’m losing track of who is who in pheasant world, because apart from the obvious difference between male and female they all look so alike! Therefore, they’re all assumed innocent until proven guilty. And all called Ptolemy. Or Mrs Ptolemy.

  10. Crafty Gardener May 9, 2013 at 6:07 pm - Reply

    Good to hear everyone escaped with only a few minor injuries.

    • Jessica May 9, 2013 at 7:49 pm - Reply

      Luckily, as a gardener, I’m no longer precious about my nails!

  11. Denise May 9, 2013 at 6:16 pm - Reply

    Aaa ah….so Ptolemy is a stunt pheasant and you are a stunt gardener! Will you both be making appearances in the next James Bond? Or a particularly dangerous episode of Gardener’s World??

    • Jessica May 9, 2013 at 7:54 pm - Reply

      Monty does his own stunts. I’ve seen him sporting a plaster on his finger more than once..

  12. Wendy May 9, 2013 at 6:41 pm - Reply

    Ptolemy looks very self-important in your lovely photo. I do like the way he has become “your bird”. I hope he does start to appreciate the trouble you’ve taken over him.

    • Jessica May 9, 2013 at 7:56 pm - Reply

      He appreciates the bird seed, that I do know..

  13. Vera May 9, 2013 at 7:17 pm - Reply

    A broken nail! Crikey!

    • Jessica May 9, 2013 at 7:58 pm - Reply

      I know. But sacrifices sometimes have to be made.
      It was my best one too.. not that that is saying much.

  14. elaine May 9, 2013 at 7:18 pm - Reply

    I seem to have missed your last three posts – I am so far behind it’s not true. Glad your bird wasn’t harmed during the lumberjack sequence – he’s still pretty gorgeous

    • Jessica May 9, 2013 at 8:04 pm - Reply

      I am behind too. The demands of the greenhouse!

  15. Anny May 9, 2013 at 7:56 pm - Reply

    Now I’m no great fan of pheasants, but that photo is so gorgeous I think you should consider making a Ptolemy (and friends?) 2014 calendar – he’s a real pin-up. Maybe an idea for the local WI?

    • Jessica May 9, 2013 at 8:09 pm - Reply

      Then he’ll be demanding even more bird seed!

  16. starproms May 9, 2013 at 8:56 pm - Reply

    I’m glad this story had a happy end, but it did highlight to me that living in the country can sometimes be quite hazardous!

    • Jessica May 10, 2013 at 9:12 am - Reply

      It certainly can!

  17. Rosie May 9, 2013 at 9:18 pm - Reply

    Phew! All’s well that end’s well. I’m sure that Ptolemy appreciated your sacrifice of a nail to stop him being squished. He is a handsome fellow and he knows it:)

    • Jessica May 10, 2013 at 9:13 am - Reply

      And therein lies the problem I think!

  18. Natalie May 9, 2013 at 9:57 pm - Reply

    Birds!! They love to mess with your head. But good on you, O Pheasant Protector!

    • Jessica May 10, 2013 at 9:15 am - Reply

      They get into your head and stay there, do they not.

  19. Josephine May 9, 2013 at 10:20 pm - Reply

    I would be tempted to feed him everyday, and give him his own tree……..just saying.

    • Jessica May 10, 2013 at 9:22 am - Reply

      I give in most days, even though each time I say never again… when they stay and feast on my plants for dessert!

  20. CherryPie May 9, 2013 at 10:49 pm - Reply

    I think Ptolomy was playing games with you and he would have moved pretty quickly if you hadn’t been their to rescue him!

    • Jessica May 10, 2013 at 9:26 am - Reply

      You could well be right Cherie.. but imagine the guilt if he had been squished..

  21. Denise May 9, 2013 at 11:55 pm - Reply

    D.H. Lawrence material!

    • Jessica May 10, 2013 at 9:38 am - Reply

      Birds, Beasts and Flowers… about sums up life around here!

  22. haggiz May 10, 2013 at 8:19 am - Reply

    What a beautiful pic! Sounds just like my husband when the children do anything stupid they are mine, when they’ve done something good they’re ours! Julie x

    • Jessica May 10, 2013 at 9:41 am - Reply

      He He. That’s just how it is!

  23. BadPenny May 10, 2013 at 1:06 pm - Reply

    You really have bonded with that bird haven’t you ? He’s gorgeous !

    • Jessica May 10, 2013 at 9:44 pm - Reply

      They have become very tame. More like pets!

  24. Heda May 10, 2013 at 1:39 pm - Reply

    No! How could you? Either that or stop making him look so beautiful and innocent in photos.

    • Jessica May 10, 2013 at 9:52 pm - Reply

      He is safe, from humans anyway, as long as he stays on our land.

  25. Simone May 10, 2013 at 9:31 pm - Reply

    Jessica, please be careful when Mike is above you with a chainsaw!!! I am glad that all ended well. 🙂

    • Jessica May 10, 2013 at 9:56 pm - Reply

      I do keep a very close eye on the chainsaw Simone, as does Mike. It is not a thing to mess with. Thanks. 🙂

  26. John May 10, 2013 at 10:35 pm - Reply

    That is a magnificent photo

    You are going to miss him when he goes…….. They do tend to wander

    • Jessica May 10, 2013 at 11:16 pm - Reply

      I will, they’ve disappeared before for long stretches. And by the time they come back they’ve regrown feathers so it’s impossible to tell if it’s the same bird or a different one!

  27. Viv May 11, 2013 at 12:07 am - Reply

    I imagine he has as many lives as a cat! They seem to survive any oncoming danger by looking it squarley in the face.

  28. Viv May 11, 2013 at 12:08 am - Reply

    whoops… did I mean squarely my computer can’t spell!

    • Jessica May 11, 2013 at 9:30 am - Reply

      Some are looking a bit battered at this time of the year from all the infighting!

  29. young at heart May 11, 2013 at 9:01 am - Reply

    wow….well a bird in the hand and all that!!

    • Jessica May 11, 2013 at 9:31 am - Reply

      This one was resolute in his determination to stay in the bush.

  30. steph May 11, 2013 at 2:59 pm - Reply

    Now that’s true love…..willing to take a branch in the face for ‘your’ bird!! Just so glad it didn’t come to that…..a nail! bummer, but a gardener doesn’t really have brag-about nails, anyway!!! small sacrifice!!! Ptolemy—you sure are one beautiful/handsome bird!!!

    • Jessica May 11, 2013 at 9:42 pm - Reply

      Now don’t go building him up anymore.. he’s holding me to ransom for seed already!

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