Watch The Birdie

Meet Hucknall.

All robins around here have the same name. It’s easier that way as I’ve never worked out how to tell them apart. My current garden companion is particularly attentive. Almost as soon as one of us steps outside the door we will hear the fluttering of little wings and Hucknall will appear. If I am weeding he, or she, will stand on the soil inches from my fork and wait the chance of an upturned grub. Once he’s consumed it he’ll fly up to a branch in the nearest tree or shrub and serenade me from on high. A minute or so later, digestion complete, he’ll be back for more. It’s my ambition this summer to get him eating out of my hand.

The trouble is Hucknall likes to follow us around. Mike has gone into the tool shed before now and the robin has flown in as well. What would happen if he inadvertently got shut in? As it turns out, our predecessor may have encountered this problem too. I’d looked up to the top of the tool shed door to see if there is a gap large enough for Hucknall to escape. There isn’t. But I did spot something I’ve never noticed before..


Shed Hatch Closed Wm


Do you see anything unusual?


Shed Hatch Open Wm


How cool is that?

Perhaps it was for swallows. Or even bats. Maybe we should just leave it open for now.


2018-02-27T10:54:50+00:00January 13th, 2014|Tags: |


  1. Brismod January 13, 2014 at 12:09 pm - Reply

    How funny that you never noticed that before…Thank goodness for Hucknall then. Such a pretty bird too. xx

    • Jessica January 13, 2014 at 5:06 pm - Reply

      Our British robins are very special, mostly because they are so tame. But their song really cheers up a winter’s day too.

  2. Denise January 13, 2014 at 12:26 pm - Reply

    A bat flap!! A bird flap??? A cat flap for a small and acrobatic cat??!!!? Or a provision hole for the gentleman of the house when he is having ‘man shed’ time…’Just post the sandwich through the flap, dear.’

    • Jessica January 13, 2014 at 5:09 pm - Reply

      Anything’s possible. He has a phone extension in his other shed..

  3. ournewlifeinthecountry January 13, 2014 at 12:36 pm - Reply

    How absolutely perfect a hole for Hucknall, his very own door. What a wonderful idea.

    I’m seriously considering a catflap or simply an escape hole on all sheds as Ginger is terrible for playing the ‘in and out’ game every time the shed doors are open, we can never keep track of where he is up to in it (in or out) and have to check and call him for ages before locking up each time we use any of the outbuildings.

    • Jessica January 13, 2014 at 5:24 pm - Reply

      I feel a right wally standing in the shed clapping and calling out. Just as well the neighbours aren’t too close. But at least if Ginger has free access you won’t have any mice in the outbuildings!

  4. Pauline January 13, 2014 at 1:05 pm - Reply

    So good to meet Hucknall, much better name than Robbie, which is what we call all ours! We used to have a robin which fed from the hand, but that was a few years ago. I haven’t tried with others after I found him in a very sorry state, dead on the back doorstep. He too used to flutter around and land on our shoulder waiting to be fed, he had us well trained as we always had sunflower hearts in our pockets. Love the hinged door, what a super idea!

    • Jessica January 13, 2014 at 5:30 pm - Reply

      That is the downside of getting the wild birds too tame, they become like pets. I have the same problem with the pheasants. My heart is in my mouth every time they get into a scrap, which they do frequently at this time of year.

  5. haggiz January 13, 2014 at 1:32 pm - Reply

    Beautiful boy and I bet he sings as well as his namesake x

    • Jessica January 13, 2014 at 5:32 pm - Reply

      It was after I went to a Simply Red concert that the robins got their name… a few years ago now!

      • haggiz January 13, 2014 at 8:03 pm - Reply

        I’ve seen them twice, about 15 years apart and they were fantastic both times! x

        • Jessica January 13, 2014 at 9:48 pm - Reply

          It was probably about ten or twelve years ago I went. I had a corporate hospitality ticket, right by the stage. I had thought it was going to be a bit wasted on me because I hadn’t heard of them before that night. But I really enjoyed it!

  6. linda January 13, 2014 at 1:43 pm - Reply

    Morning Jessica….
    Well…this story just brightened my Monday morning!
    Your Robins are so small and cute…..ours are much larger…..and not as brightly coloured…
    The trap door is hilarious….I suspect it is just for that purpose….to let Hucknall out!
    Enjoy your week…
    Linda :o)

    • Jessica January 13, 2014 at 5:34 pm - Reply

      I’ve used that door so many times, and always thought it was just a plain old door. Funny what makes you notice things.
      You too Linda!

  7. rachel January 13, 2014 at 1:49 pm - Reply

    What a great idea!

    • Jessica January 13, 2014 at 5:36 pm - Reply

      Our predecessor was an engineer. All sorts of odd little ‘modifications’ around here.

  8. Rosie January 13, 2014 at 1:56 pm - Reply

    I love the way you name all your regular visitors and Hucknall is a great name! What a thoughtful idea to put an escape door in for the birds and also for the shed users so they don’t have to worry about shutting anything in:)

    • Jessica January 13, 2014 at 5:44 pm - Reply

      The other three shed doors may now need one too.

  9. countrysidetales January 13, 2014 at 2:26 pm - Reply

    Our Robin has been known to fly in through the bedroom window, go down the stairs, quick scoot round the kitchen for crumbs and back out through the then-open cat flap set in the front door. I love your little door within a door- perfect! 🙂

    • Jessica January 13, 2014 at 5:47 pm - Reply

      The audacity! Lucky for him there was no cat coming in.

  10. Vera January 13, 2014 at 2:31 pm - Reply

    We had a ‘tame’ robin a couple of years ago, when we did not have any windows in the house. So when I used to be doing things in the ‘kitchen’ robin would be perched somewhere very close to me, waiting to grab a morsel of food. This lasted all winter, and then in spring he disappeared. We had the windows put in after that, which stopped his visits. I miss that little robin. He became a great friend, and would often have a chat while he sat and waited for food. Loved that little door. Very cute, and very handy for any little creature who would want to go in and out. Is it too high for mice to use it as a thoroughfare?

    • Jessica January 13, 2014 at 5:54 pm - Reply

      I’m a bit worried that Hucknall (if a she) may be looking in there for a nesting site. There are mice in the tool shed, they would most likely go after the eggs. It’s an old stone outbuilding and probably has loads of tunnels and holes that the mice use already.
      Love the story of the ‘kitchen’ robin. Mine cocks its little head on one side, listening, when I talk to it.

  11. thevegartist January 13, 2014 at 3:20 pm - Reply

    Somebody very kind made that little flap!

    • Jessica January 13, 2014 at 5:56 pm - Reply

      It would be difficult for anyone to live here who did not have a soft spot for birds. He certainly didn’t extend the same feeling to the mice, or the squirrels.

  12. Linda January 13, 2014 at 3:31 pm - Reply

    Lovely robin. I’m guessing it’s called after Simply Red(?) That door’s interesting and the hinged panel intriguing.

    • Jessica January 13, 2014 at 6:00 pm - Reply

      You’d be guessing right. I’m wondering if the hinged panel was in the door from the start. It would surely have meant taking the door apart otherwise.

  13. Eleanor from Stitches and Seeds January 13, 2014 at 3:49 pm - Reply

    I love little details like that. xx

    • Jessica January 13, 2014 at 6:06 pm - Reply

      It’s cute isn’t it? I’d love to know why it is really there.

  14. Jenny January 13, 2014 at 3:58 pm - Reply

    Robins around here are called Ethelred, nice to meet your Hucknall. Sounds like he’s particularly tame and will probably appreciate the birdy flap in your shed.

    • Jessica January 13, 2014 at 6:07 pm - Reply

      Ethelred… that’s brilliant!!

  15. Amy at love made my home January 13, 2014 at 4:06 pm - Reply

    You must the the only people to have a bird flap!! I hope that Hucknall uses it if he gets stuck in the shed! How lovely to have a robin companion in your garden to keep you company! xx

    • Jessica January 13, 2014 at 6:09 pm - Reply

      He makes a very good companion. Green caterpillars are his favourite.

  16. Chloris January 13, 2014 at 4:18 pm - Reply

    What a lovely photo of your robin. They seem to get to know their gardeners habits very quickly. My Hucknall sits in front of me and sings to me. I did have a hand trained robin one year but one day after about 9 months he disappeared.. I looked it up and found that a robin lives on average 18 months to 2 years. It is perhaps best to enjoy your current Hucknall and not to know if he is the same one as last year.
    By the way, why Hucknall?

    • Jessica January 13, 2014 at 6:13 pm - Reply

      There seem to be plenty around, so it is probably better not to be able to identify them individually. Like the pheasants they are very territorial and get into fights.
      Hucknall is after Mick. Simply Red.

  17. justjilluk January 13, 2014 at 4:20 pm - Reply

    Could be for wrens to roost too. What a clever idea. We leave a transom window open in the garage for the robin. He soon discovered that was where the bird food came from.

    • Jessica January 13, 2014 at 6:16 pm - Reply

      Yes, there are a lot of wrens about too. They are all so quick to catch on. So much for birdbrain.

  18. Crafty Gardener January 13, 2014 at 4:41 pm - Reply

    Such a fantastic idea … a birdie version of a cat flap 🙂

    • Jessica January 13, 2014 at 6:19 pm - Reply

      If only they could close the door after them, they’d be much warmer!

  19. Alison Collins January 13, 2014 at 5:06 pm - Reply

    What a fabulous fellow…they are my favourite…so friendly and great company in the garden. I So love the bird flap…great idea:-)
    Take care.

    • Jessica January 13, 2014 at 6:29 pm - Reply

      He gets so close and is so trusting I have to watch that I don’t tread on him, but he moves pretty quickly if needs be. The pheasants are catching on to the same trick though, and they do tend to frighten Hucknall away.

  20. angiesgardendiaries January 13, 2014 at 5:20 pm - Reply

    Robins are never far away at this time of the year are they Jessica? For what ever reason the little hatch was put in the door – it’s ingenious!
    I’d be ever so tempted to leave it open, you never know what creature might make a home in your shed.
    Great shot of Hucknall too.

    • Jessica January 13, 2014 at 6:34 pm - Reply

      I once left a summer house door open overnight when I had seedlings in it. Come the morning a song thrush had started a nest in the corner! So then the door had to stay open for weeks. It was worth it though, because we were at home when the babies fledged.

  21. Simone January 13, 2014 at 5:29 pm - Reply

    It is a cat flap for a long legged cat! With regards to robin, my sister has one who feeds out of her hand daily. Do give it a try!

    • Jessica January 13, 2014 at 6:38 pm - Reply

      Trying not to think too much about it 🙁 , I do throw him grubs if I find them and he hops over to get them. It wouldn’t take much I’m sure.

  22. Cathy January 13, 2014 at 6:02 pm - Reply

    I had to run through with my laptop to show the Golfer the robin-flap as it was such a lovely things to see! I am trying to remember to call our robin(s) Robson, instead of Bobbie which is too boring!

    • Jessica January 13, 2014 at 6:40 pm - Reply

      It’s lovely that we all have names for our robins. Shows how much they are part of gardening life!

  23. Denise January 13, 2014 at 6:37 pm - Reply

    Wood – so versatile!

    • Jessica January 13, 2014 at 6:49 pm - Reply

      When we were renting the cottage on a sheep farm, the shepherd made a flap in the side of a wooden shed for his chickens. A bit like a coal bunker flap, you could pull it up during the day so they could get in and out and then secure it at night. It didn’t take long before the ducks and geese found it though and raided the chickens’ food.

  24. Rose H January 13, 2014 at 7:28 pm - Reply

    How wonderful to meet Hucknall Jessica! Your beautiful photo made me smile, thank you.
    I love the little trap door within the door – ideal methinks for nesting robins 😉
    I was watching (and talking to) one of his kind this morning on my way to the village.
    One of last years baby robins was becoming very tame and would happily come within a few inches of my hand but sadly I had little time to get him/her any tamer – this year I WILL try harder!
    Hope you have a lovely week.
    Rose H

    • Jessica January 13, 2014 at 9:27 pm - Reply

      Hi Rose, they are lovely birds to have around. They are trying so hard to get to grips (literally!) with the hanging feeders, and with some success. But we put seed and mealworms out for them on top of the bird table, so they don’t lose out.

      • Rose H January 15, 2014 at 8:41 pm - Reply

        Bless you Jessica. As you know they adore mealworms (but so the the starlings other wise known in our house as the biker boys – rufty tufty types!) So I try to scatter them in places the starlings don’t see them so plainly to give the robins and blackbirds a look-in.

        • Jessica January 15, 2014 at 9:34 pm - Reply

          It’s weird, we just don’t get starlings here at all. Or sparrows. But the robin has to fight with the coal tits and marsh tits, who go for the easy to pick food on the top of the bird table.

  25. Serendipity January 13, 2014 at 7:38 pm - Reply

    It’s funny how tame robins are, I had one virtually sit on my foot while digging, yet never managed to take a photo through the kitchen window of one on the feeder. xx

    • Jessica January 13, 2014 at 9:31 pm - Reply

      Ours like to perch on the edge of the bird table, which is where we get most of the shots. This one was standing on the top of a tree stake, up high on a bank, hence it had to be taken looking up!

  26. colleen January 13, 2014 at 7:41 pm - Reply

    It may be wishful thinking on my part, but there seems to be much more robin action around here than I have known before. They are singing their heads off at the moment. No hope of naming them though, not with three cats around

    • Jessica January 13, 2014 at 9:36 pm - Reply

      Probably best not to name them, with three cats around.. They do seem to be singing a lot. Last summer must have been good for their numbers.

  27. Sarah January 13, 2014 at 8:03 pm - Reply

    That is a lovely picture of Hucknall. That door is so cool just hope it only allows friendly an helpful animals to pass over it’s threshold!
    Sarah x

    • Jessica January 13, 2014 at 9:40 pm - Reply

      Yes, I wonder if the squirrels will get in? Hadn’t thought of that.

  28. Abby January 13, 2014 at 8:12 pm - Reply

    Gorgeous photo! Love robins (not so keen on Mick Hucknell!). Love the Bird Flap too!

    • Jessica January 13, 2014 at 10:00 pm - Reply

      It was a really chance shot this one. Mike was just walking down the path to the house, happily with the camera, and saw the robin on top of the pole.

  29. Leanne January 13, 2014 at 8:25 pm - Reply

    My favourite bird. A cople of years ago we had a Robin that would sit on our fence bobbing and shrieking at us every time we ventured into the garden. He was very feisty.
    My Uncle has a Robin that comes into his greenhouse and eats mealworms out of his hand. How fab is that?!

    Lovely blog.

    Leanne xx

    • Jessica January 13, 2014 at 10:04 pm - Reply

      Awww, I’d love that. As long as they were dried mealworms and not wriggling!
      Thanks Leanne and welcome to rusty duck.

  30. Wendy January 13, 2014 at 10:46 pm - Reply

    I loved this, Jessica and Hucknall is gorgeous. I really hope you can encourage this little Robin to eat out of your hand. I had a bold Robin one year that did this and it is magical. I think the gap in the door is wonderful, it will be so exciting if you do have Robins or Swallows or some other birds/bats nesting in there this spring.

    • Jessica January 13, 2014 at 11:51 pm - Reply

      I shall try my best, it really is magical to see a wild animal or bird up close. Mike saw two deer in the garden when he went up the hill with the rubbish this morning. Thanks Wendy.

  31. nataliescarberry January 14, 2014 at 3:32 am - Reply

    Now that is cool! I adore your robins! Our robins aren’t people friendly like that. I love our robins too but I would love to have some European robins as well. I love deer too but we live too far in the city to ever seen any of those up close. Thanks for the post. I enjoyed reading about Hucknall. Blessings, Jessica. Natalie 🙂

    • Charlie@Seattle Trekker January 14, 2014 at 4:10 am - Reply

      I live deep in the city and I have three deer that have staked out spots in my yard where they each forage, I would be really happy to send them over.

      • Jessica January 14, 2014 at 8:52 am - Reply

        They are a mixed blessing!

      • nataliescarberry January 15, 2014 at 3:25 am - Reply

        Really! Interesting, we sure don’t see any in our city, and Texas is a big deer hunting state. I sure have plenty of possums and raccoons though. Wanna trade? Blessings, Natalie 🙂

        • Jessica January 15, 2014 at 5:40 pm - Reply

          If either of you want a few more grey squirrels to throw into the mix just let me know! 😉

          • nataliescarberry January 16, 2014 at 1:30 am

            Oh, no thanks, I have more than enough of my own fluffy-tailed rodents. Mine aren’t gray but no less pesky I’d imagine. Hugs, Natalie 🙂

          • Jessica January 16, 2014 at 12:03 pm

            They are starting to become a pest around the bird feeders again. New batteries for the twirler now on the shopping list..

    • Jessica January 14, 2014 at 8:50 am - Reply

      It is lovely to have them fluttering about as I weed, I’m just continually worried about squashing them! Thanks Natalie.

  32. Charlie@Seattle Trekker January 14, 2014 at 4:12 am - Reply

    The photos and story are quite wonderful, I found the door quite interesting as well.

    • Jessica January 14, 2014 at 8:53 am - Reply

      Thanks Charlie. I hope that as we dig deeper into this place we’ll discover other interesting surprises.

  33. frayed at the edge January 14, 2014 at 8:39 am - Reply

    When we lived in Cambridgeshire in the 80s, we had a robin nested in the shed – which caused problems as we were selling the house. “So sorry, you can’t see inside our wonderful,quirky, ancient old semi-detached shed (!) as there is a nesting bird in it!” I think the robin which frequents our front garden has a much deeper red breast this year.

    • Jessica January 14, 2014 at 8:56 am - Reply

      We have two that I can clearly tell apart, because one has a lighter breast. I wonder if that is the female? I must consult my bird book.

  34. BadPenny January 14, 2014 at 9:00 am - Reply

    there is something so magical about a robin in the garden, I love seeing mine. What a great little door !

    • Jessica January 14, 2014 at 9:27 pm - Reply

      I know. He was back in exactly the same place this morning, all fluffed up in the cold. So cute.

  35. wherefivevalleysmeet January 14, 2014 at 9:41 am - Reply

    Oh I love that little doorway for the Robin – you mentioned about the Robin with a lighter breast – it might be because it is a younger bird and still developing its red breast.

    • Jessica January 14, 2014 at 9:30 pm - Reply

      That’s interesting Rosemary, there were quite a few babies in the garden last year.

  36. Sue@GLAllotments January 14, 2014 at 9:47 am - Reply

    A robin flap – lovely.maybe they nested in the shed once? There are certainly plenty of robin photo opportunities at the moment. I think I read somewhere that the more dominant the robin was the larger its red patch on its breast.

    • Jessica January 14, 2014 at 9:34 pm - Reply

      That would make sense, the younger ones still have it all to do.

  37. Antoinette January 14, 2014 at 11:33 am - Reply

    What a clever little door! It might well be for bats and/or swallows. We’ve got pipestrelles behind the shutters during the summer and a horseshoe has taken up residence in the barn – it has no need for a mini-door; there are gaps 🙂

    • Jessica January 14, 2014 at 9:38 pm - Reply

      I’d have no problem with bats, I love to see them flying in the summer at dusk. And rather in the shed than in the thatched roof..

  38. Jo January 14, 2014 at 11:51 am - Reply

    What a brilliant idea. I think you should leave it open and see what happens. I love that first photo of Hucknall, I noticed my resident robin was around a lot yesterday, pecking at the floor for food that’s dropped from the feeders. I do hope you manage to get Hucknall eating out of your hand, I’ve heard of other people doing this but I’ve never seen it.

    • Jessica January 14, 2014 at 9:39 pm - Reply

      It would be magic wouldn’t it?

  39. elaine January 14, 2014 at 11:52 am - Reply

    That is a brilliant/novel idea fancy you not spotting it before.

    • Jessica January 14, 2014 at 9:40 pm - Reply

      It was always just a shed door, I never really gave it much thought..

  40. Em January 14, 2014 at 7:21 pm - Reply

    VERY cool. Lovely to see you today and am looking forward to the re-match! x

    • Jessica January 14, 2014 at 9:48 pm - Reply

      I had a wonderful day, thank you so much! The Photographer In Chief has declared my photos “useable”. Watch this space!

  41. Anna January 14, 2014 at 9:26 pm - Reply

    What a fine fellow he is Jessica and much relieved to see that he has an escape route 🙂

    • Jessica January 14, 2014 at 9:50 pm - Reply

      I wouldn’t sleep, worried that he might be trapped in there..

  42. Jayne Hill January 14, 2014 at 9:43 pm - Reply

    You’ve got to love whoever cared enough to create that little flap:}

    I have a few red-breasted “gardening assistants” but none of them have ever become as tame as some of your visitors are describing.

    • Jessica January 14, 2014 at 9:59 pm - Reply

      I have the slight concern that, by virtue of a lucrative territory, the birds might become more aggressive. And then more fights. But I shall try it this year and see.

  43. snowbird January 16, 2014 at 1:51 am - Reply

    Oh how fab, love the little bolt hole! You can have your little redbreast feeding from your hand in a week if you put live mealworm in the palm of your hand. I promise you!xxx

    • Jessica January 16, 2014 at 12:04 pm - Reply

      Live? Wriggling? 😉

  44. SeagullSuzie January 17, 2014 at 5:43 pm - Reply

    That’s just lovely-I did have a Robin visiting and waiting by me when I was digging up parts of the grass to make flower beds a couple of years ago. I love that little door flap-it’s a great idea too, I hope you get something nesting.

    • Jessica January 17, 2014 at 6:27 pm - Reply

      I can’t wait to get out there, and find the robin more grubs. But the rain is back again. Grrr! Thanks Suzie.

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