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Old Friends And New Faces

1st of December 2012

I like to vary Ted’s early morning walks as much as possible. Sometimes we go to Scatterdells Wood, or across the footpath to Saunders Fields, or down to Dunny Lane and back up behind Chipperfield House. Each different place offers different things to see. A walk through the Croft Estate gives me a chance to see and hear starlings. They are cheeky, noisy, clever birds, often the hooligans of the bird table. They are wonderful mimics and years ago one had the ring of our telephone off to a tee! Sadly, they are in serious decline; their numbers are thought to have dropped by about 70% in recent years. We no longer have a flock in the garden and now I regard seeing them as a treat whereas in the past they had sometimes been a pest. When I was a child at Hill Farm they would nest in the roof at the corner of my bedroom. For a few weeks each year I would be woken by noisy chicks demanding food. Starlings rise quite early and it was not always a welcome alarm call!

No one seems to know why their numbers have dropped so much. Roofs are much more bird proof these days but they will nest anywhere they can find a hole. They will eat almost anything when they are adults, but as youngsters they need to feed on insects and invertebrates which their parents find in grassland, either in field or on lawns. Not many birds are making it through their first year and now they are on the Red List of birds in decline.

I miss their cheeky chatter in the garden and I hope they won’t be replaced by the raucous parakeets that I now see every day. The starlings have wonderful iridescent plumage, but the bright green parakeets look as if they are wearing high vis vests!
Wendy Bathurst

 
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