The blackberries have been coming in heavy. We have been eating our fill, trading some and freezing a lot.  Today we are expecting guests and Vidya has made some blackberry pie.

Of course, nothing in the material world comes easily.  There is a price for everything.

My first clue everything wasn’t going to go smoothly came as I was thinning the primocanes from the sides of the bed and cutting back the remaining ones to a.)  increase production next year, and b.) make picking the berries easier this year.

Learn about primocanes, floricanes and apical dominance here.

As I was pruning the local mockingbird was watching me with great focus, landing nearby and some minor scolding from which I deduced there must be a nest in the blackberries.

The real drama unfolded once we started doing serious picking, getting a gallon or more of blackberries in a day. This involved actually putting hands into the interior of the berries.

Vidya came in and said the mockingbird had attacked her several times. It didn’t really register but the next day when I went out to pick, I also got dive bombed the rush of air and the striking of my back by its wing gave me realization of what Vidya was telling me.

The bird was serious.

Naturally my first instinct was wouldn’t it be great to get a picture of him attacking.  So we sent Tulasi out to pick while I sat nearby in the shade in a chair. I tried to be inconspicuous and not move, but although he would come and land nearby, and even made some half-hearted sorties he never went closer then several feet (1 m).

I left the garden and went and sat on the kitchen steps. I could see as Tulasi went down the row, the female mocking bird hopped out of the other side  and flew away so I was sure the male was defending his family.

Sure enough, now he attacked. I kept taking pictures and tried to time it as he would take off, the camera on action setting, but I was unable to catch him in the frame.

I was able to get him sitting on a post from the unfinished kiwi trellis  getting ready to attack but futility reigned in getting an action shot.

Tulasi soon tired of being a human target so I had to pack it in.

What we did learn from this is that if two people were picking at the same time on the same side of the row, he wouldn’t attack.  Though he did seem to learn who his perceived enemies were and Vidya reported that he even attacked her outside the garden while hanging clothes on the clothesline!

We eventually saw the nest, saw that the chicks were there, though they must be gone now because yesterday while picking the male didn’t even sit nearby and scold us as he usually continued to do.

Today we might even be so brave and bold as to go pick berries without backup. :-)

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