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Aerobatics

There is an old avenue of mature trees along the bottom of our garden, and the flock of jackdaws that lives in the village often comes and sits in them. People confuse various members of the crow family. Carrion crows, jackdaws, and rooks can look similar at a distance, but the jackdaw has an obvious ‘hood’ seen a bit closer. Like the rooks he lives in flocks, but he is a slightly smaller and much more lively bird, Jonathon Livingstone should have been a jackdaw, not a seagull; they are the only bird I know who seems to delight in their avian abilities. In the evening they will gather in the trees, then twenty or so of them will take off, not apparently going anywhere, but flying in a big circles as a flock, whilst individuals leave the group to swoop to either side, above, and below, or dive through the flock, I know it is anthropomorphic, but it all looks like a good humoured wild game, just like the children used to play on the adventure playground about the same time of night.

Magpies they tolerate, most of the time anyway, but the big crows they don’t like. Our cottages are in pairs with the chimneys back to back, and all the crow family like sitting up there, but if the jackdaws are there as a mob you won’t see old Joe Crow about. I watched a crow on next door’s chimney pot being dive bombed by a lone jackdaw one day. The jackdaw was doing huge loop the loops, going up two or three times the height of the house, then diving at speed and making the crow duck as he passed inches over his head. The crow finally gave up and flew off down the valley with a disgruntled ‘Caw’; quite an achievement for the single jackdaw who was only half the size of the crow, if that.

Crows, magpies and jackdaws are to be seen regularly on the chimneys, but it is only the jackdaws that I have seen disappearing down them, they perch facing into the hole and then suddenly drop into it. My neighbours have warned me of the perils of them building nests and blocking the chimney, and have covered theirs to prevent it, but although I regularly see them dive into the pots I have never seen evidence of a nest in the twenty years we have been there. We don’t often have a fire, but even the occasional one, on an Autumn evening or a chilly Spring day, must leave the chimney smelling pretty awful, and the bird book tells me they like to nest in old ruins. I think they are curious and inquisitive, like their name. Jack, or John, the common man; Jack-the-lad: daw is an old word for any member of the crow family.

Note; where People have gone across the world they have given the names they remember from home to local birds. It is only by Latin names that species can really be identified. Those here are:- The Magpie; Pica pica. The Jackdaw ; Corvus monedula. The Rook ; Corvus

Comments

one can spend a long time just watching birds through the window especially when i can hear pigeons as they communicate ,the sound travels down the fleu and into the living room....sometimes
 
We have crows, many, and the rare Raven ( though they shy from human habitation).
Swifts... I wish my IPhone could capture them. Jets, look like tiny fighter-jets, buzzing, arcing. They go to the cliff, full-speed at them, turn at the last second, loop around, or into a bat-crack.

They're like bats in that they're gnat catchers. But the bats are rubber-band powered to the swift's jet engine. Too small for most eyes but I enjoy them, twenty to a group, circling, arcing, twitter constant, wish my iPhone...
 
We keep a well stocked bird table which attracts a lot of birds to watch through the kitchen window, but it empties and it is the jackdaws I see when I am out in the garden working.
Pigeons and doves, escorial, are pests that shred my cabbages, broccoli, and swedes.
 

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Olly Buckle
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