Thursday, January 14, 2010

Garden Dunnocks

Each morning, I wrap myself in our two duvets (it is cold at the mo'), and perch on the side of the bed looking out of our bedroom window while the birds and I wake up. Down below the window is a horrible conservatory roof, then a nasty corrugated-plastic-roofed 'veranda' under which hang vines (sounds posh? It isn't). Next to this, there is a self-sown, scraggly Elder, interweaved with vine strands, which has grown to about 15 feet or so. Each morning birds of various hues gather there for a preen or chat or feed, then move through.
This morning, three Dunnocks turned up there and as they going in for all that wing-flicking and dodging, I assumed that they were about to indulge in the menage à trois flirtatious cloacal pecking and sexual shenanigans which give them such a racy reputation. However, this morning, more territorial matters were on their Dunnock minds. A full-scale fight took place on the corrugated plastic below me.
It was a vicious battle, with lots of wing-flapping and beaking, and after 10 seconds or so, several small feathers went flying up. One bird flew off, and the victor returned to the Elder, still with a grey Dunnock feather in its bill, which it wiped triumphantly on a branch, like a little fluffy trophy.
A couple of minutes later, the vanquished returned, as did its mate, but the birds were too exhausted to fight again, so the winning bird instead just sang the little Dunock ditty while the other birds perched and listened. Three or four House Sparrows came into the Elder for a bit of banter and display, but the Dunnocks remained still around them.
Small grey feathers blew gently over corrugated plastic.

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