The miserable weather continues, but for some it seems to have been a blessing. Back in March, as the breeding season kicked into gear, the Blackbirds were scrambling around in the leaf litter looking for damp areas to search for food for the newly hatched young. During that time, I watered soil in the flower borders to help them. Fast forward three months, and they are still raising young, these could be the third or even fourth broods, but the search for food is now much easier. Male and female Blackbirds have full bills as they forage on my lawn, digging out the moss to get to the morsels that lie beneath. I watched this female on my front lawn collect numerous worms, and then fly to the nest across the road, only to return seconds later to begin the collection again.
In between the search for food, to rest they will fly up to the peaks of the roofs on the houses around the garden, where they seem to survey the area for any other Blackbirds that might dare to come into the garden. This male though looks a little worse for wear, and he sat up there for quite a while in the rare evening sunshine.
The roof is replacing a tall tree as an available vantage point, we first noticed this behaviour in a male Blackbird with a white throat, who we named of course "White Throat". He was particulary agressive in defending the roof top, and would always be seen singing there throughout the summer. White Throat is now long gone, but we do see blackbirds that show pale feathers on the throat that may be descendents, of these there is one female who is very aggressive and we consider her to be "Daughter of White Throat". This male looks a little better.
The use of the peak is not confined to blackbirds, the Collared Doves use it too, and they don't seem to mind the presence of blackbirds along side them.
When the House Sparrows squatted in the House Martin nest, the male would also sit there singing almost all day. However when the Wood Pigeons arrive every one backs off. For the Wood Pigeons it seems to be an opportunity to launch a courtship display, and from the roof they hop, skip, and jump towards a possible mate, before she gets fed up and flies off.
With the weather the way it is every dry spell has to be an opportunity, so on Monday evening while running along Gradwell Lane, Helen and I were attracted to the hedge near the footpath by Blackbirds rattling out their alarm call. There was a male and female quite upset about something, so we negotiated the mud, to try and see what it was. As suspected a Tawny Owl was the subject of the abuse, and while it put up with the mob for a time, finally it flew out of the Hawthorn, and up into a taller Oak tree, that provided more cover from the Ivy.
Unfortunately the blackbirds didn't give up, and they continued to mob the bird which allowed us to locate it. The owl would go from looking at us with big black eyes, to turning around to see if the blackbirds had come any further. Every so often it would close its eyes as if to try and sleep, and hope they would just leave it alone. They didn't so in the end if flew into the deeper cover of the ivy, and we couldn't see it anymore, we left it with the blackbirds still calling, but with less frequency, so we hoped the owl could now get some rest.