Saturday, January 17, 2009

Bird talk

I’m amazed at the bird life this year. It’s teeming. Yet another bird this week that I have never seen here before – the redwing - dozens of them. They seem to favour one particular tree just outside the kitchen door and congregate there but are never still for very long, endlessly flitting about as though they were hunting for something though they never seem to eat. I’ve given up trying to photograph birds though. I spend ages moving an inch an hour to get to the place I want to be and then wait a few more ages for the bird to come in to range and then the dog will turn up to see what I am up to or if the dog can’t be bothered one, or yesterday all of the cats creep up to investigate. Then of course the birds know you are watching and, like the wrens, will hop around right near your foot tempting you to take the shot of the year and knowing full well that they will never let you and that if you move a muscle they will fly away.

Today another oddity was a whole bunch of crows in the dead chestnut tree in front of the house. Every year they get more and more numerous and move higher and higher up the hillside. I know you’re not supposed to but I actually like crows and enjoy having them about. I could watch them for hours. They seem to actually have a concept of play. They caw at each other then race off somewhere, usually to mob a raven or a buzzard which seems to be one of their favourite pastimes, only to race back again to the same place and dislodge some other crow which has in the meantime take up residence on the previous occupant’s perch. They did this for about an hour today. I really do appreciate seeing this from inside the house, not for the beauty or the poetic nature of the experience but simply because it saves me getting cold. I have always gone out to see birds, sitting in bloody trees for hours only to catch a glimpse of a pigeon or something. How nutty is that? Since we have put the bird feeder out birds come to us. I now spend half my indoor life gazing out of the kitchen window. One thing that is puzzling me, either this is a very particular year or our bird feeder is changing local bird dynamics quite radically. It seems that even though most of the bird species do not feed at the feeder the kafuffle of the ones that do attracts other birds. I really have never seen so much movement so close to the kitchen door before and I thought that tomorrow I might fix up the video camera and take a few hours of film and clip it down to a few minutes and see how many species I can get on film. Of course though tomorrow will the one day this year when ALL the birds take a holiday.

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