© 2014 by Barbara Copperthwaite.

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Love is in the air

A Blackbird gave an alarm call and flitted by in the undergrowth as I walked. Minutes later though, I was being serenaded by that sweet Blackbird song. Because it is so common, people sometimes overlook this bird, but take a minute to really look at it. Those sleek black feathers, that bright, intelligent eye, ringed with orange, and its gloriously orange beak, like a beacon amongst its dark feathers… And then there is its song. So well-known, yet as pure as a mountain stream, it really is beautiful.

Nearby, a Nuthatch was busily going up and down one of the dead trees and pausing to give a call of its own; this one loud and insistent. Despite it staying in clear view and me snapping away merrily, none of the pictures were any good as it was either silhouetted against the bright early morning sun or in the deep shadows cast by the sunshine.

Later on, I saw the Nuthatch whizzing out of the nest it has created in that same tree trunk. They often use old Woodpecker holes, stopping up the hole with mud in order to narrow it and make the inside cosier (well, safer!). At the moment I would say that the pair are still sitting on eggs, which have not yet hatched; there will be between five and eight eggs, which are white speckled with red.

A Mistle Thrush watched the world go by for a while, before flying down to the ground, full of purpose. For some time it alternately pecked away at the ground then bounced a little further along to start all over again. Its pale-ish brown back, and off-white chest dappled with pale brown spots gives surprisingly good camouflage even on bright green grass, as when still it simply looks like an innocuous patch of earth or leaves. It flew back into the trees, though, when a small squirrel bounded past it. There seem to be a lot of baby squirrels out and about currently.

There are no babies yet for the pair of wild Ring-Necked Parakeets that reside in the park. Despite seen and photographed the pair breeding, clearly it wasn’t successful on that occasion, as they are not yet sitting on eggs. They are still displaying courtship behaviour though; they are as devoted a couple as ever, the male feeding titbits to the female and grooming her gently.

It would seem that for the birds of Highbury Park, love is most definitely in the air.

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