We have a problem in the back garden this afternoon. A pair of Magpies have gone on the prowl. The one was lurking all afternoon in and around the garden. The other patrolled on the roof, often throwing an ominous shadow onto the granite slabs that pave our back garden.
The terrain is quite conducive to bird watching because we have a wall of shrubbery and trees to my right as I look north. And there are hedges and conifers ahead of me and open gardens to my left. Our immediate neighbour has a bird feeder that attracts a lot of garden birds.
We are on a slope down from a coastal hill that’s heavily wooded. Pigeons come hurtling down from time to time on wind eddies we can’t see. Crows of various sorts use the eddies for lift as they take off from a Cedar a hundred metres beyond our garden.
Yesterday, while I was on the phone, I saw a peregrine falcon fly by carrying a pigeon. I could also see the unmistakable white darts that are Gannets diving into the sea some two kilometres north from my window.
So I thought to give myself a two hour challenge and photograph as many birds as I could from my office. It should have been relatively easy because I have a 150-600 mm autofocus lens; bad for my shoulder and neck but just what might be needed.
I’m behind double glazing and the floor is not suited to a tripod. So I had to photograph through internal reflections while holding the huge camera and lens for a few hours. And I had to stand the whole time because the window ledge is too high to have a good view from a seat.
And this is why I say we have a problem with Magpies today. The garden birds are usually very busy but today they are flighty, jittery and anti-socially distant.
Our flue-nesting Coal Tits were taking no risks and kept themselves in obscure but safe positions when out foraging. I had noticed them collecting food for storage purposes earlier. Is it the female that was putting on a shimmering wing display? About one in four sorties ended up at the end of the garden where they were surely hiding food for later use. This afternoon, they were zipping out of the nest at top speed and rather than stopping locally, headed two and three gardens away before they looked over their shoulders so to speak. Magpie respect?
I only realised in the last hour that there are competing Robins going to the feeder next door. These Robins are truculent and seemed happy to argue about grain rights under the beaks of the Magpie. They must not have seen one of the Magpies swoop down to harass a very startled Dunnock who managed an escape.
And that’s about all I can say. It seems that there must be a lot of incubation going on perhaps halving the count of foragers.
I saw passing Jackdaws, Starlings, Herring Gulls and of course kitchen resident Coal Tits.
I heard but did not see either a Wren or the Song Thrush.
I didn’t see any of the Blackcaps, Ravens, Bullfinches, Great Tits, Swifts Swallows, Long Tailed Tits nor Goldcrests that frequent this area. I didn’t even hear our resident Chiff Chaff.
And if you are wondering about the photo compositions, I put a bird’s eye at the centre of each frame apart from the Magpie.