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Animals

Country diary: an endearing little scrap of life darts round the garden

Talsarnau, Gwynedd: His siblings have dispersed but this young robin remains, and is taking a keen interest in my compost heap

The young robin, speckled brown and bright of eye, perched on the fence by the compost heap. When I lifted a forkful, exposing a writhing knot of thin red worms, in a whirr of wings he darted down and with crammed beak retreated to his vantage point, dropping his dinner to foot level and pinioning it there with a long, elegant leg. He finished his repast, hopped a little closer, gave a quick wing-flutter, and peered intently down again, as though to direct my attention back to his source of food.

From a suitable distance and through a glass trained on the deep nest low down in a holly brake, I’ve been watching and whistling to this endearing little scrap of life – “pretty of note, colour and carriage”, as John Bunyan described the robin – since he and his four siblings chipped their way out of the egg a month ago. There followed a few days of brooding by the hen, with the cock flying daylong to and fro with a beak full of green caterpillars, which he’d give to his mate to feed the fledglings.

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