A singing parrot, a glut of mushrooms and an armchair African adventure

Hello and welcome to the latest blog from The Olivia Rose Diaries on September 29th 2022.

‘I think she’s getting to like you,’ I said, as Michael carefully eased Monty the parrot out of her day cage.

‘What makes you think that?’ said Michael dubiously, balancing her carefully on his arm as he walked through the house to the room where she had her night-time cage.

‘She hasn’t pecked you for a few days now.’

No sooner were the words out of my mouth than her head darted forward and her beak hooked into his wrist, which fortunately was protected by a thick glove.

‘It’s going to take longer than two weeks for her to accept me,’ said Michael as he put her into the cage.

You can’t argue with a parrot, and now she was latched on to the glove she wasn’t keen to let it go, so our solution in this situation was for Michael to leave it in the cage with her until she’d lost interest. The challenge was to withdraw his hand from the glove and get it out of the cage before she saw naked flesh. Most of the time she moved about her various cages slowly, even ponderously, but she could move very quickly when she wanted to.

We are coming to the end of our house-sit here and I have found our first experience of looking after a parrot to be an interesting one. I can’t explain it but there is something about her that makes me want her to like me, even though I know it’s not going to happen. It reminds me of wanting to be in the ‘cool’ group at school, rather than a not-so-cool teenager on the fringes. In a bid to gain parrot-favour I cut off slithers of courgette to tempt her, but she treats them with disdain. I’m on to a winner with slices of melon and when she takes a pistachio nut from my fingers ( from the safety of the other side of the bars I hasten to add) with a gentle delicacy I am thrilled. Seconds later the shell is adeptly cracked open as if was made of paper.

She is an African Grey, renowned for their ability to mimic noises, and over the two weeks we have been here we have been treated to all manner of sounds. She can re-produce the telephone ringing, a cat miaowing and the call of a crow to the point where you can’t tell it apart from the real thing. She mutters quietly to herself, but we can never make out what she is saying, which just adds to her mystery. She has a repertoire of noises that are hard to explain, electronic beeps and the sound of a bone cracking, but the real pleasure – and also the pain – is when she starts to whistle. At times it is a truly beautiful sound, a rich melodious medley that stops you in your tracks and brings an involuntary smile of delight to your face. And at other times it is a high pitched screech that has me wanting to cover up my ears and for one of us to leave the room, usually me.

She likes music. I would go so far as to say that she has good taste as when I put on a bit of classic rock she starts to bounce up and down as if dancing and the whistling goes off the scale. David Attenborough wild life programmes have the same effect.

She has three cages, one outside for when it is warm, and two indoor cages, one for day and one for night. When her owner is here she spends much of the day on his shoulder, out walking with the dogs or around the house. He inherited her from a relative and hates to see her caged, but there are time when it is unavoidable which is why she has three of them for a change of scenery. Each morning we cut up a selection of grapes, carrots, dates and various other goodies to supplement her bird seed mixture. It’s never easy seeing a wild bird confined but I think Monty is given the best life possible under the circumstances.

The weather here in north Wales has turned wet this week and so we also have been confined indoors, although our cage is substantially bigger.

Grey skies
Atmospheric sunsets

Stomping through the woods with the dogs Michael returns to report that it is a bumper year for mushrooms – he’s never seen so many and I’ve included a selection of the pictures he took below.

Rainy weather also means Michael has returned to his drawing. This house is full of magazines about wildlife, particularly African wildlife, so his subjects are more exotic than usual. I’ve included a few below – consider it a brief armchair safari.

Tomorrow we pack up and spend the next few weeks on a whirlwind tour of family and friends all around the country, beginning with a visit to friends in Chester to see their narrow boat. Back on the water again!

Wishing you all well and see you soon.


12 thoughts on “A singing parrot, a glut of mushrooms and an armchair African adventure

  1. Parrots remind me of my Mother’s one. It bit, and had a repertoire, including shouting ‘telephone’ in Mother’s voice when Father was down the garden! Father was not amused.


  2. I’ve never been a great fan of parrots, but they are clever mimics. Does Monty talk? It looks like a bumper mushroom year over there. It’s probably been too dry here. Enjoy your tour around family and friends.


  3. Parrots are interesting pets, often hilarious with their antics. My mother’s friend had one that she inherited from her mother (they live for ages) and whenever we laughed, it would mimic us which made us laugh even more. A regular circus!
    Enjoy your visiting. I expect a return to France is on the horizon?


  4. My teenage friend had an African grey parrot that used to mimic her dad when he came into the kitchen in the early morning he would say “good morning Zeeky boy how are you ? then make resounding fart noise!! We thought it hilarious, some days the fart was louder than others!!


  5. Wow, hasn’t the time flown. It looks as though you had a lovely view from your house-sit. Michael’s drawings are extremely good. He ought to catalogue them and do his own book!! I remember when I was young, my dad had a part-time insurance collection job and one of the properties he called in on had two parrots, a parakeet and a couple of budgies. My, could they all talk…….. I love birds but actually don’t like them loose and flying around my head, so I take my hat off to you and Michael (so to speak)…. Enjoy the rest of your time in Wales. Good to speak the other week. Enjoy your travels and we look forward to hearing about your sit in Belgium. Take care both. A and G


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