As I walked the back lane up towards the centre of the village I could hear the very quiet song of a Blackbird. It was half hearted and came from the middle of a tree lacking the forcefullness and wonderful full notes normally associated with a Blackbird in song.
The drizzle in the air became a more persistent rain, the sky and everything around me assuming a monochrome set. I headed down towards Blackberry Lane, and around me the Starlings were flying about calling to each other and settling in the tree tops, contrasting black against the grey sky, almost like a black and white picture.
At the footpath down towards Alton Lane a Crow called from the top of a tree, this time a larger black and white bird, a theme was developing.
As I came down the footpath between Blackberry and Alton Lane there was a flock of approximately 20 Redwing feeding in the paddock where the ground had been turned over by the horses.
One of the other reasons for coming this way was to check on the Rookery along Alton Lane. Lats year there were around 50 nests, and the indications were that there may be quite a few more this year.
As I approached the colony I could hear the Rooks calling but also there were plenty of Jackdaws about. Rooks nest quite early to take advantage of the soft ground in the fields. During winter Jackdaws and Rooks form huge roosts in the woods around Chawton Park, and it is as if the Jackdaws can't be parted from their winter night fellows. The Jackdaws seem to hang about with the Rooks despite the fact that the Rooks are now nesting. You could see the Jackdaws on the edge of the branches while the Rooks were staying close to the nests.
While some of the Rooks were clearly sitting on the nests and their partners close by in attention, some of them were still reinforcing their bonds.
The nest is a large bundle of twigs, many do remain from last year but with the storms of the winter I can imagine there has been much repairing going on. Birds can be seen flying around with twigs in their beaks even once eggs have been laid. In many case the twigs are broken off the tree itself though as many are likely to be stolen from nearby nests as are collected from trees.
Eggs are usually 3–5 in number, can appear by the end of February or early March and are incubated for 16–18 days. Both adults feed the young, which are fledged by the 32nd or 33rd day.
Once fledged the juvenile is superficially more similar to the crow because it lacks the bare patch at the base of the bill, but it has a thinner bill and loses the facial feathers after about six months.
There was plenty of activity around the whole colony, and I attempted to count the number of nests, I am not convinced this is the complete total, but I managed to locate 57 nests which is in excess of the number counted last year when the two colonies along Alton Lane decided to combine.
The rain now was becoming a lot heavier and I decided it was time to leave the Rooks who were now sitting high in the trees alongside their nests.
I made my way home with Jackdaws heading north again a black and white image in the grey and miserable sky.
A short walk, brought to a quick conclusion by the change in weather. I did though get the chance to catch up with the Rooks always a feature of the early March skies as they wheel around the their nests in the top of the trees calling and filling the air with a scattered black and white display.