From deepest, darkest West Sussex by David Cole
Date: 2013-05-31 09:45:41 | Category: Twootz News
| Author: David Cole
It is currently birdwatcher’s hell here in West Sussex – murder most foul is to be seen in every hedgerow.
Confined by circumstance to the curtilage of my home near Petworth, the carnage is not pleasant to behold – but after all isn’t there something about “Nature, red in tooth and claw...” Tennyson I’m pretty sure…
Magpies, crows, rooks and woodpeckers search the hedges for nests of young birds to provide an easy and rich protein feast for themselves and their own young. My 5am- 6am trips to the paddock behind my home with three dogs for their early morning ‘comfort break’ - sends what seem to be flocks of black (and gaudy) marauders noisily skywards.
The Greater or Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)is a bright and acrobatic visitor to the feeding stations – but they have a darker side – young birds, eggs and even small rodents are all on the menu – we like to think that ours are so well fed with suet pellets and peanuts that they won’t bother the smaller birds – but they do.
Readers of earlier items will be aware of our Springer sisters – Meg and Emma who have taken to patrolling the hedges which bound our property and are now giving plenty of voice in the event of an attack on a nest site. The distress of the parent victims when an attack is in progress is not a pretty sight and the bravery of the smaller birds is something to behold.
All the more reason to make the breeding season less stressful by keeping up with the feeding stations – the food will usually not feature on the menus of the chicks, who prefer something wriggling, but make life easier by keeping the strength up for the parents!
Looking the part is a large Carrion Crow (Corvus corone) huge, threatening and very hungry who has taken over one of our bird tables with frequent visits and attempts to assure us that he is only there for the peanuts !
Emma, one of the sisters seems to have a soft mouth and soft heart to match, sometimes bringing a fallen victim of an attack to the house, the tiny bundle of wet feathers often making a fluttering recovery when she drops them at your feet.
Yes lads and lasses – it is a tough old world out there…