The blackbirds and thrushes sang in the green bushes…
goes the folk song. Our garden is full of them at the moment, all intent on feathering their nests and nurturing their genes. At this time of year one of my amusements is watching sparrow fights, in which a horde of shrieking fluttering little brown birds rampage round the garden, like small boys in the school playground. This morning, though, it was blackbirds – five of them whizzed past me and into the hawthorn hedge, where I wondered if they would escape without getting spiked, so intent were they on each other.
Now that I’m at my desk, two very handsome song thrushes are stalking round the lawn, while overhead two buzzards soar. They too have been very active in the last few days, with some aerobatic displays more readily associated with some of the more agile raptors. This year I think we are going to have the buzzards nesting in the wood at the foot of the garden, while the sparrowhawks will probably be back in their usual tree just beyond the paddock. With both lots of fledglings screaming imprecations at their parents it could be a noisy summer. If you haven’t heard a hungry young sparrowhawk, believe me, it can shriek for England!
It’s pretty noisy already, in fact. There is a rookery here, and now that the rooks are convinced that spring is here, activity is non-stop. They wake at about 4am, with sleepy squawks and grumbles, and by about 5.30 the air of full of creaks and groans as they gear up for another busy day of collecting twigs. It’s not just picking of sticks (there’s another folk song – I’m as bad as the birds today) from the ground, the trees are full of rooks bent on that perfect twig, tugging away with dogged determination. On the fringes are the jackdaws, but they can’t compete for noise. Rook activity goes on all day, foraging for food and sticks, then as dusk falls those who aren’t nesting gather in our ash trees in great flocks like a flight of broken umbrellas, before rising all at once in a black cloud, streaming overhead on their way to their night roost in the woods.