Staying safe has meant that most of us have had to stay at home in social isolation. This has presented me with an opportunity to get to know the animals that are using our Uckfield garden more closely. Just sitting in the garden revealed 16 species of birds within about 30 minutes recently. These were blue tit, great tit, wren, house sparrow, blackbird, song thrush, magpie, jackdaw, carrion crow, buzzard, swift, chaffinch, robin, woodpigeon, collared dove and blackcap. In addition, from my garden, records have included, flying over and within, herring gulls, herons, mallards, ravens, Canada geese, goldcrests, long-tailed tits, goldfinches, starlings, coal tits, great tits, greenfinches, bullfinches, nuthatch, great spotted woodpecker, a hawfinch and tawny owl.
We were sitting in the garden yesterday and a female woodpigeon was sitting on her nest uttering an intermittent growling call to her mate who was collecting twigs for her nest in our field maple tree. He perched next to her and passed one to her in turn before flying off to collect another. The female incorporated each one into her nest beneath her. Meanwhile, on the roof of a neighbour’s house, a carrion crow was sitting on a chimney stack where a pair of jackdaws had their nest in one of the pots. They took great exception to this and were dive-bombing and strafing the crow which clearly intended to make a meal out of their offspring.
Later that day, we saw one of our robins fly into the hedge to feed one of its fledglings. The pair of blackbirds too were feeding their own fledglings and showing them how to deslime a slug before feeding it to one. The blue tits too were going in and out of their birchwood nest-box where the female has been incubating her 9 eggs. We are delighted to have a blackcap singing daily from the oak, birch and cupressus trees at the bottom of the garden this year. These migrants from Africa are usually shy of humans and nest, near the ground, in wildwood and rural hedgerows. There seems to be a trend this year of wild animals moving closer to humans as our activities have been curtailed by the lockdown. This morning I looked out of my bedroom window to see a large healthy red fox roaming round the garden investigating every corner.
Dr. Martyn Stenning