There are many suggestions as to why the collective noun for Crows is a murder but, after the events of this week, we have our own ideas.
There has been a sustained, vigorous and noisy turf war amongst Crows being fought in the skies above us for several weeks now. Some days ago, I intervened to break up a lynching where three Crows had a fourth pinned to the ground as they set about attacking it. This has now culminated in finding a dead Crow lying on the grass, having almost certainly been pecked to death by a mob of its own kind. Surely a murder of Crows.
We put a camera on the dead bird and saw that other Crows kept visiting the carcass over the next couple of hours to further jab at it and pull it around.
Eventually, as dusk started the draw in, a Fox took the bird away. Things have been very much quieter since then and so perhaps that was the last battle in the long war and the matter is now irrevocably settled.
Every day the pair of Herring Gull are waiting for us as we arrive and we are charmed by the companionable chuckling noise they make to each other. One morning we arrived unexpectedly early before the gulls were there, but the male soon spotted us and flew in from wherever he had been hanging out.
Once landed, he threw back his head and made that loud, characteristic ha-ha-ha-ha cry that Herring Gulls make. This was clearly to let his mate know that we had arrived and were about to dispense seed, because very quickly she joined him from the other side of the hedgerow. It was so heart-warming to see how they look out for each other like that.
My friend the Old Gentleman Fox isn’t much around at the moment but there are generally three other Foxes now waiting for the peanuts and sandwiches each evening, all probably having to provision cubs at this time of year.
The handsome Fox has a bit of a lion’s mane and lovely black paws:
Here are some other photos from the meadows taken over the course of this week:
May is prime orchid time and we hope to get out and about this month to visit some of the fantastic orchid sites of East Kent. In the meantime, an Early Spider Orchid has appeared on our lawn to whet our appetites:
Cowslips are at their very best in the meadows at the moment:
And the Apple trees are blossoming in the orchard, showing all those exquisite shades of pink:
Spear Thistles form enormous rosettes in the grass
The only orchids we have ever found in the wood is a little group of Twayblades but this colony seems to be thriving:
Our wood is fantastic for Primroses but less so for Bluebells and it is not carpeted in them as some woods are. It does have a few, however:
My brother, who lives in North Somerset, sent me a photo of a Purple Gromwell that he saw there in his local woods and I include it here because it is such a rare and special plant and one that used to grow in Kent. But it no longer does and it is now only to be found on the limestone of the Mendips, South Devon and parts of Wales:
Back in our wood, both Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers seem to be inspecting the hole in a cherry tree, although I don’t think either are visiting often enough to be actually nesting there. I thought that Great Spotted Woodpeckers never used the same hole twice and so I am surprised at their interest in it:
Great Tit and Blue Tit having a fight:
And another Blackbird nest is being built in the wood:
What a glorious time of year it is in the allotment, full of promise and with the rhubarb starting to poke up above the ground. This is perfect timing just as we are reaching the last bag of last year’s roasted rhubarb in the freezer.
Historically, juggling freezer space has always been stressful as the gluts of fruits and vegetables are harvested over the course of the year. But we hope that this problem has now been solved by installing an additional freezer in the hide, and we are looking forward to it being packed to capacity with home grown goodness. It is difficult to beat a gooseberry crumble in January, lighting up those short, dark days with memories of a sun-soaked summer.