Exciting news from the Toon Magpies – they’re building a new nest! It’s in the same tree they used last year, as you can see from the photo above (the 2018 nest is top right, this year’s is top left), which means I’ve had a grandstand seat in my kitchen for the building process again.
The new nest is looking a bit scruffy, but it’s large and I am sure it will be perfectly cosy for the forthcoming eggs. The recent unseasonably warm weather in the UK has increased the building activity to the extent that I now actually think that TWO nests are being built in adjacent trees, by two different pairs of magpies!
Spring is very nearly here…
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…
I live in west London, right under the Heathrow flightpath, and my flat backs on to a fairly busy railway line that sometimes sees traffic at all hours of the day and night. Noisy, yes, but still a great place to live because (and this may surprise some people) of all the wildlife in the area. There is a perhaps surprising amount of green space nearby, creating perfect habitats for numerous creatures – you’ll find a small park and various allotments (some in use, some derelict) within a block or so of my flat, and the railway line itself is flanked by trees and other greenery.
Well, more like a coot actually. And this one, believe it or not, is actually building a nest on this floating platform. Most birds are pretty secretive about where they nest, tucking themselves away in trees (like the parakeet nest I recently spotted, cunningly hidden in a hole half way up a tree trunk), hedges or undergrowth to prevent predators from getting at them and their precious offspring – but coots are a bit more blatant about their nest building.
Highly aggressive and very territorial, particularly during the breeding season, coots are, as you can see, pretty in your face about nesting, despite the fact that they often lose a high percentage of their young to gulls and herons because they make so little effort to disguise their nest sites. Being omnivores, they will even eat the eggs of other water birds, and are also known to viciously bully their own young, all of which – despite their small size and attractive appearance – makes them a bird not to be crossed under any circumstances, quite frankly!
Fortunately, this one didn’t spot me as I photographed it – I dread to think what would have happened if it had…
Duck and cover, methinks!