AS an avid bird watcher since I was nine years old, I have for two weeks been observing something quite new and comical over my garden wall.
I was, as a lad, thrilled on finding my first nest, that of a dunnock (prunella modularis) with its tiny blue eggs.
Since then I have been attacked by an assortment of birds.
The first was a mistle thrush when I was climbing up a tree towards its nest; then by a peewit in a ploughed field. It finally dragged its ‘poorly’ wing away from its eggs to attract me away from its meagre nest.
Feral pigeons ‘dive-bombed’ in Venice and peacocks ‘flared’ in the grounds of stately homes.
A variety of gulls ‘lunged’ in a few seaside resorts and puffins defended their nests in the Farne Islands.
I have chased off a buzzard that had trapped a young rabbit on the ground in the Dales and have trampled, accidentally, on a pheasant which was protecting its eggs to the last minute.
Anyway, a fortnight ago a pair of magpies started to build a nest in the leafless whitebeam (sorbus) tree a few metres from our house. They carried thin twigs and built a solid platform.
After a while a couple of crows began to investigate this nesting site, much to the concern of the magpies. It seemed as if the crows were going to take over and finish the construction for their own use.
For a few days all four birds flew in with more and more twigs. Then they would perch and stare at each other.
They never fought, chattered or cawed – just glared.
Yesterday the magpies solved their problem. In turn they disassembled the best, twig by twig, and flew off, to who knows where, until all the nest had gone. The crows have been back a few times, but seem puzzled.
Brain over brawn? It looks like it.