Beijing, 17 March 2013

I am desolate.

This morning, we managed to hook up with our son on Skype, and then he managed to hook up our daughter, so that we could have a three-way conversation! This is quite beyond me and my wife. We have no idea what he did to make it happen, but we are very happy that he did it.

So we were having a pleasant conversation about this and that, catching up on what they were up to. And then I noticed that in a crook of the tree just outside our window a pair of magpies had begun to build a nest! This was really exciting, the height of our floor being such that we would have a front-seat view to the whole thing. Each magpie was bringing a twig or two and weaving it into the other twigs already there.

As my wife continued to talk to the children, I grabbed my phone and took some photos.

magpies nesting 009

magpies nesting 010

magpies nesting 011

I was happily looking forward to making a pictorial diary of the nest building. Then I was already imagining the egg laying, the birth of the little ones, their first flutter (as it were), all immortalized in photos.

Then our son had to sign off and we continued with our daughter, who told us about the latest events in her job (exciting, but also unsettling, changes have taken place). When we finished, I went back to the window to check how the nest building was progressing.

But the magpies were not there and the scaffolding of twigs was sagging at the edges. I looked around anxiously. No magpies to be seen. Perhaps they had gone off to get extra good twigs, I thought.

We went out to lunch, and when we came back the first thing I did was to go to the window. No magpies, and the construction was drooping even further.

abandoned nest 002

They’re not coming back. Something drove them off. Was it me? Did they notice a rather large shadow lurking in the near distance? I had tried to be careful, used no flash, and I think our windows are partially tinted. Was it a bad location choice? As they say of real estate – and I guess it’s as true for birds as it is for humans – it’s location, location, and location. Maybe the tree crook was a little too crooked. Or maybe it was the smog; you can see from the first pictures that it’s pretty bad today. Maybe they thought it was better to move out of town.

Whatever it was, they are not coming back. I’m really desolate.