Every day is interesting in the garden, but today was more interesting than most. I watched two robins squaring up to each other, puffing out their red breasts. They hopped about, keeping their distance and often turning their heads to the side. I was sure that a battle would ensue, but after a few minutes of posturing one flew off. Would this be a parent and chick from this year? Would they have been on the invisible boundary of their respective territories? A territory boundary in the middle of a lawn would seem odd to a human but then we are not birds. In any event I was glad that they went their separate ways unscathed.
Not birds, I know, but the two red squirrels were chasing each other round a tree trunk shortly after the robins departed. One had a very dark tail – quite normal in winter – while the other’s tail is noticeably lighter in colour. The squirrels have regular skirmishes like this but I’ve never seen them ‘coming to blows’. I still suspect they are both the same sex, most likely male, which is a bit of a disappointment.
About 0815 I was waiting in my car outside the front door to give my granddaughter a lift, with the burn on my right. Suddenly a brilliant blue flash shot down the burn. It took a moment to register that it was a kingfisher. They are rare visitors to the garden; no more than once a year. I have been meaning for some time to put up a perch above the deepest pool so that they can perch and survey the small trout below. This is definitely on the list of ‘things to do soon’.
Later in the morning I was going down to stack about a ton of beech, birch and ash logs I had chopped the previous day. This entailed me crossing the bridge over the burn, and this time the bird of interest in the burn was a dipper. There used to be plenty dippers in the burn until I encouraged wild mallard, sometimes up to 70 of them. I suspect they had eaten most of the dippers’ invertebrate food on the bed of the burn and the dipper numbers crashed. Now that most of the mallard have gone the dipper numbers are increasing and I see one at least once a month.
I was busy with my logs when two jackdaws landed on a larch tree near to me. One was an ordinary black colour with a grey head, but its companion was light brown, the colour of my khaki Campbell ducks. Its wings were even lighter brown, getting on in fact for cream. The ‘normal’ jackdaw seemed to be looking at its erythristic (if I can compare jackdaws to badgers) companion with some degree of puzzlement. It turned its head from right to left, left to right again as if to try to work out what exactly was different about this bird. Indeed I had to study it a minute or two to make sure it wasn’t a female kestrel. The two then left to join more jackdaws further up the wood where they all engaged in continuous chacking for at least fifteen minutes. I wish I knew the subject under discussion.
Having stacked about half of the logs I headed up to the house for a cup of tea, this time seeing a grey wagtail in the burn, flitting from stone to stone with the characteristic dipping of its tail. They are not uncommon here but I never see one when I have a camera. It’s not always handy having a camera in my pocket when I’m working in the garden but I must start to carry it. I had great chance of a photo of the unusual jackdaw today but unfortunately I might never see it again.