Time to watch the birds



Female blackbird feeding her fledglings



We have a corvid (note the ‘r’) nesting in the woodland. It is one of the crow family and not normally welcome here. But I must admit that being in isolation, with more time to look, has made me pay more attention to this big carrion crow and his identical mate.
I have been sitting out with my binoculars looking at the remote nest. The birds are not rooks who nest together in rookeries. Also, I can see that they have no bare patch on their faces and no ‘baggy breeches’ which rooks have. They are plain crows.

The nest is high up in the scots pine tree, at a fork in the branches. I can see the female brooding her eggs from her tree-top view. She is on the summit of the world and at the top of her food chain. There is no danger for her, but she and her mate are a danger to others.

They time their nesting carefully. I saw them both building, using the remains of an old magpie’s nest. I watched as they broke twigs off the silver birch trees to build up a safe platform.
She will have about four greenish spotted eggs to brood. The male visits occasionally swooping down with seemingly no effort. He gives a raucous ‘Caw’ three times to announce his presence.
For the remainder of the time he is on guard, perching on the nearby ash tree, not yet in leaf. The oak trees have leaves, so according to the old rhyme ‘If oak comes out before the ash, the earth will only get a splash’, we are due for a good summer. This means that there will be lots of baby birds for the crows to eat.

My sister told me about the crows she saw this week. She was sitting outside eating her lunch, two metres apart from her neighbours, taking advantage of the warm sunshine. She had three ham sandwiches on her plate and then, out of the blue, two crows with claws locked, fell onto her lap scattering her meal.
The thwack must have shocked the birds as much as it did my sister. But they all recovered quickly from their surprise. The crows flew off and my sister, on seeing only two sandwiches on the ground, calmly ate the final one left on her plate!
The young crows, here, will hatch when there is a plentiful supply of food. Birds’ eggs and nestlings are favourites.

I am pleased to say that my nestling blackbirds have fledged and are now safely in the long grass in Oak Meadow. Also, there are young thrushes – new from their nest in the yew tree, trying out their wings, but still relying on their parents for food.

We are relying on our seedling vegetables for our food this year, to provide us with healthy fresh food. Most of the plants are now so big that they cannot fit on the kitchen table and have been moved to the greenhouse. The tomatoes are already in flower and we have great hopes for an early crop.

I am looking forward to eating our strawberries. Their green fruits are already swelling. Crows are not the threat this time. It is our blackbirds who love eating strawberries.
(Taken from my column in the Shropshire Star)


Young thrush about to go it alone on Oak Meadow



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