Trouble at the top


There has been trouble here in the garden this week. The first I knew of it was at breakfast time when I was looking out of the sunroom window there was a huge black crow struggling along to drink at our little pond. I had seen two of these birds flying and circling confidently over our Scots pine tree where they nested last year. But now this one was grounded and its wing was drooping as it stumbled on our grass keeping a beady eye on me as it went.

The bad luck for the crows is that two magpies got there first. They have already taken over the old crows’ nest and are beginning to repair it and construct a roof of twigs. I can see their flashes of fresh smart black and white uniforms everywhere above the trees. They are patrolling quite a wide area. I have just seen the two of them attacking a squirrel who likes to visit our woodland for pinecones. The squirrel gave up in the end and I wonder if the crows have lost the battle too.

To add to our troubles with the crow family we have had one down our chimney. We were drinking our coffee before we lit the fire when we heard the scuffling. The glass doors of the fire were closed, but it was not long before I could see a beak and a jackdaw’s head going backwards and forwards looking for its escape route. I have learnt from experience that you cannot just let it out. The bird will be covered in soot collected from its journey down the chimney and if suddenly released it will panic and fly all over the room making such a mess. The trick is to close all doors and curtains except one with an open window. With luck the released bird will fly straight to the light and then through to the outside. This is what happened and there was only one mark on a cream curtain.

The curtain was soon washed and hung whilst damp to get the creases out. I have decided not to iron any more partly to save electricity and partly because it is a boring job. I remember my mother ironing on our big mahogany table with a flat iron, heated on the coals. It was a morning’s job with old blankets and sheeting to protect the table and my mother going backwards and forwards to the fire. She had to bang with the iron to get the creases out. Now I have a modern steam iron and ironing board, but I am looking out of the window watching the triumphant magpies.

(Taken from my column in the
Shropshire Star)

The jackdaw in top position - until he falls down the chimney!


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