Kitchen Birdwatcher: Blue Tits and Toon Magpies

Autumn colour 2018

Yes! The magpies made it through! I am delighted to report that all went well for the brave little magpie pair whose progress I was following from my kitchen window back in the spring, and there is now a large gang of youngsters squawking noisily round the neighbourhood

They are now officially known as the Toon Magpies thanks to my friend Jim, who is a Newcastle United fan (for non football readers, United play in black and white striped shirts, are nicknamed the Magpies, and their fans are known as the Toon Army).

As a result, Jim has decided to name the young magpies after his favourite players and managers from the club. This means we have Sir Bobby [Robson], Rafa [Benitez], Shola [Ameobi], [Alan] Shearer, Speedo [Gary Speed] and more…

Interestingly, now that the leaves have fallen, I can see from the window what look like several similarly constructed nests in adjacent trees that I hadn’t noticed before. I didn’t realise that magpies nested so close to each other, but it would certainly explain the very large numbers of them that I’ve seen hanging out together in the car park since the spring!

Autumn skies

In other bird-related news, I had a close encounter with a blue tit (oh, do behave missus!) the other weekend. And by close, I mean really close. I’d propped the living room window open while I tended to the house plants on the sill. All of a sudden, a blue tit lands on the opposite side of the window frame, no more than six inches away from me.

I froze in astonishment – even after many years spent watching blue tits congregating on bird feeders, I’d never been that close to one before. The tiny bird looked at me with its beady black eyes, fluffed itself up into a little feathery ball and flew away, leaving me with a delighted smile on my face.

What a privilege. It’s not often you get such a close look at such a beautiful creature right on your doorstep (or window frame, as it were!). I love that even a small, brief encounter with your local wildlife can be so incredibly rewarding – I’m still smiling about it now as I write this post!

Now winter is here, don’t forget to put out some food and water for the birds in your garden. They need a little extra help in the cold weather…

 

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