The cockerel was crowing loudly while the hens were fussing around him clucking and squawking and cleaning up what little scraps of food were available. The caged hens were a target for wild birds who found it so very easy to swoop down into the chicken runs to steal their food.
Rooks were cawing in the treetops establishing there territorial boundaries. It was not unusual to see a small group of rooks, mobbing and attacking a much larger bird, such as a heron that had probably accidentally strayed too close to their rookery.
A group of four or five magpies, possibly a family group, were pecking around the weedy uncultivated field. The young were fully fledged and almost ready to fly forth and set up their own territories. Generally by this time the parent birds would have chased them away to fend for themselves.
There were several blackbirds flying around, mainly scavengers, stealing berries from the un-netted fruit bushes all over the allotments. Males, with their distinctive yellow bills, and the females with their plain brown plumage, for the most of these wonderful birds the breeding season is now over. The male blackbird is responsible for the superb melodic song usually heard early in the morning. The song is reputed to be a territorial call, announcing to the world there is a nest nearby and to stay away, or else.
Then of course there are the smaller birds flying around, small sparrow-sized finches that dart into the forests made by raspberry canes, searching for spiders. A great variety of spiders that weave their webs between the canes hoping to catch some unwary flies that take shelter between the canes.
Wood pigeons are everywhere, scavenging for anything or everything edible. Sadly the pigeons are classed as public enemy No1. by the allotment holders, mainly due to their appetite for fresh new grown vegetable leaves. One or two of the allotment holders have guns and spend a lot of time taking pot-shots at these birds and killing them. There always seems to be enough pigeons to plug the gaps and replace their dead. I can't help thinking of the story of the now virtually extinct carrier pigeons. There were millions of these birds in existence until man came along and virtually wiped them out by hunting them down and killing them in huge numbers.
A flash of blue caught my eye as a normally very shy bird fled for cover when I approached the allotment gates. These beautifully marked birds are indeed very shy and it is very unusual to catch a glimpse of a jay at this time of the year. Jays are a woodland bird, they usually come out of hiding in the Autumn when nuts and berries are coming into fruition. They have a reputation of being a very aggressive predator who will rob other birds nests of their eggs and young.
Very soon as summer merges into autumn the skies over our allotments will be full of flights or skeins of geese. Honking loudly and flying over in a V-shaped formation, a sight that is always wonderful to see and observe. This noisy incredible display is guaranteed to stop me working on the allotment as I gaze at their formation in wonder. There is always a leader of the flock at the very tip in the front of the skein. I often wonder how he is selected to lead, would it be by survival of the fittest? Or perhaps the oldest, most experienced goose takes the lead instinctively.
There is usually a family of pheasants in residence, I often wonder why these large birds spend most of their lives on the ground. I suspect they hunt for food on the ground and it is far simpler to run for cover than take flight at the first sign of a threat. They do eventually take flight if the danger is a very real threat, flying swiftly off with an impatient call of alarm. The male bird always fills me with admiration for his colourful plumage. I will never understand the blood-lust of hunters who go out of their way to shoot and kill such beautiful creatures. I guess it is a relic of times long gone by when ladies would wear the colourful feathers in their hats.
When autumn has passed and we are in the depths of another cold winter, the little robin red-breast will become much more noticeable hunting and scavenging for food during the harsh winter winds and rain, frost and snow. A much loved little bird that is famous for decorating many millions of greeting cards at Christmas. The robin will bravely come begging for scraps of food wherever there are people and food could be had for the asking. Although he is a handsome, perky, lovable character, our robin can be a very aggressive little fellow, when he is staking out his territory ready for the spring breeding season. I have seen two male robins on the allotments pecking hard at each other fighting over their territory.
Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved