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This could be rather sad…

13 June 2011

Blackbird nest in clematis

I come to north Norfolk a lot at weekends. Bought a small house here as a/My parents were in North Norfolk and in declining health so I could visit them regularly but not have to stay with them and b/ could not afford London (where I have had a one room (rented) flat for 20 years 😦 ) . The result was a tiny ‘yard’ garden at the back of a back-to-back house. These yards are small so there are very few birds in this street, mainly a large noisy jackdaw family on the roofs to the front and back. Naturally I wanted to grow things so I ripped up the paving, planted a birch, an apple, a crab apple, a rowan and a pear – clearly excessive for a very small garden. There was a May flowering clematis, and as I am only in the tiny garden a little – when I am up – sometime in the last few weeks a pair of blackbirds – Turdus merula– took to the clematis and built a nest. The problem was I did not know this until I heard the clucking of the disturbed birds. Inevitably I have to use the garden a bit, taking the recycling rubbish bin out this morning I spotted the nest was empty of parents – I hope it is not deserted. There seem to be about three eggs. At any rate, if it is a failure they will probably try and find somewhere else to nest, but territories are divided up by now and blackbirds are common.

Oh – they are still going in and out of the nest – hurrah!

Whenever I see a clematis I think of this beautiful poem by Roland Leighton – from the Vera Brittain book Testament of Youth –


The sunshine on the long white road

That ribboned down the hill,

The velvet clematis that clung

Around your window-sill

Are waiting for you still.

Again the shadowed pool shall break

In dimples at your feet,

And when the thrush sings in your wood,

Unknowing you may meet

Another stranger, Sweet.

And if he is not quite so old

As the boy you used to know,

And less proud, too, and worthier,

You may not let him go –

(And daisies are truer than passion-flowers)

It will be better so.

Jackdaw eyes me

I seem to recall that Konrad Lorenz wrote about jackdaws – Corvus monedula.

The jackdaw picture is so close up because I purchased a new Pentax x90 ‘bridge’ camera – very pleased with it as well. They are very noisy when they get together, like teenage hoodies but with that amazing eye… I wonder if they will bother the blackbirds – magpies certainly do according to this article –

I went out for a bike ride in the evening – when it was finally raining good and proper – got soaked and loved it. I cycled to Sidestrand/Trimingham cliff top in a typical summer Atlantic depression – like D-Day weather, strong southwesterly driving rain starting 5.30-ish still going when I got back about 9.30. I swear that I saw Black Shuck run across a field from the hedge on Hungry Hill – or would have were I superstitious! It would have been a fox, which is rare enough to see in the countryside as they are so much more wary of humans. It looked black as midnight but the light was grey and the rain was coming down quite hard. Perhaps it was the Barley Wolf – Beow Wulf / Beowulf? It is a story from chapter XLVIII of Frazer’s The Golden Bough, the Corn Spirit as an Animal. The way the barley waves in the wind is animal like, likewise when the crop was cut animals hiding would run out from the standing wheat or barley. The last sheaf was cut and in some places shaped into an animal. Of course Frazer is well out of fashion but I think there is good reason to connect Beowulf with this, linking in with Sceafbut then someone wrote a book about this I found after I had made the same connection!

The Barley Wolf was here...


From → Natural history

  1. Diane G. permalink

    Aaack! Your blackbirds are thrushes and ours are icterids! How confusing.

    Many birds do not start incubating until they’ve laid a full clutch; they also may leave the nest while incubating for short periods…In general, once they have put that much investment into housekeeping, a bit of disturbance won’t cause them to abandon it.

    My crows certainly take nestling birds, so you do have something to fear from the jackdaws.

    Anyway, I hope you’ll be able to provide updates from time to time!

    Also–that was one hell of a long bike ride!

    • They seem to have either hatched & fledged in the three weeks that I was not able to get to Norfolk or perhaps the nexst was robbed by the jackdaws. At any rate I think if it was a failure they may have a second nest as there was a good deal of clucking whichmay have been a young one asking for food. It was hard to work out if there were two or three birds as they like to sit quite high up sometine on the roof or an ariel. I didn’t cycle aaaalll the way to Cromer from London – that would be 140 miles!
      Sorry not replied before – I have only just realized where you do it – from the WordPress ‘dashboard’!

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