Wednesday 15 October 2008

Beware The Carrion Crow!

A morning walk on Axe Cliff was pretty unproductive again today but a Merlin flying east low over the undercliff was notable and that's all I have to report. I thought I'd take the opportunity to share some more of J. Wentworth-Day's 'wisdom' with you. If you're not new to this blog you'll perhaps remember his lyrical description of the Great Black-backed Gull, a bird he obviously held in some regard. Not so this next one, the Carrion Crow, you may just get an inkling that it isn't one of his favourites!!! Obviously it isn't most other peoples either and we do have an excessively large population of them here in the Axe Valley. On the 10th of February I counted over 200 of them on Colyford Marsh alone. They are shot locally, one trapped and ringed by the Axe Valley Ringing Group was recovered shot at Colyford in June, but their numbers don't ever seem to reduce that much. Despite their continued presence however, Redshank successfully bred in the area this year.

Universally Unpopular

Here's what he had to say, he doesn't hold back either:

There is another member of this family for whom neither you nor I need cherish soft thoughts. A bird black as death in coat and deed. A bird for whom no good can be said and against whom every gun should be raised......

.......Two clumsy wing flaps, a sideslip like an aeroplane stalling, and they landed, black and ungainly, on the gleaming mud. There was the suck and gurgle of the tide in crab holes; the silken sound of running waters; the cry of curlew and the squeal and bark of gulls, quarreling in the sun; and on the tide edge, grotesque forepieces in this scene of lonely beauty, the two menacing crows.

The hideous, black plumage; the pickaxe beaks; their chunky, wedge-like shapes, and ungainly struttings and hoppings-all these are a savage caricature of the white gulls, of the flashing grace of terns fishing in the channel and the slender delicacy of shorebirds wading in the shallows. There in the bright sun, flaunted the challenge of the birds of death, the most bloodthirsty, destructive and foul of all English birds.

Carrion crows are probably the greatest winged menace in England today. They are killers pure and simple. Their habits like their food are foul and revolting. They will eat the eggs of ducks, chickens, pheasants, partridges, grouse, wood pigeons, song birds or anything else which incubates within their territory. They will kill and devour young birds and young rabbits and will even attack and kill young lambs. Two or three hammer-strokes from that powerful beak will peck out the brains of a newborn lamb.

And they are on the increase…

Eek!! I'm terrified.

I've always found some of their antics amusing, (obviously not the bloodthirsty beak-hammering lamb slaughter) the way they pick up and investigate everything, to check if it's edible, they do a good job of cleaning up a lot of discarded 'vaguely edible' rubbish in the river too. Here's one I saw earlier, trying to eat a cork!!

The most bloodthirsty, destructive and foul of all English birds!?

They are highly intelligent for a bird and I always admire their tenacity as they persevere feeding on mussels washed up on the beach during storms, repeatedly dropping them from a great height to smash them and getting such a small morsel as a reward. Surely if pecking out the brains of lambs was such a cinch they'd be off doing that, wouldn't they? A bit of hard rubberized fishy stuff, or nice fresh juicy lamb brains? Uhm, difficult choice! Anyway, I've got nothing against them, they can't help being what they are after all.
Here's another photo of a couple on Colyford scrape. They are approaching our resident Egyptian Goose, what are they up to? The goose seems unruffled, not so the Barwit in the foreground, he suspects something and is making a quick getaway.

Watch out! The Black Birds of Death Approach!!

Two or three hammer-strokes from those powerful beaks later, and......


Oh my goodness!! They've decapitated goosey!! Mr Wentworth-Day was right.....

Run for you lives!!!

No comments: