The jackdaws are grumpily cackling high in the ash tree and staring down death threats with white-eyed fury at anyone who passes by. For several years, the same family of birds has nested in one of our chimneys, but this year, together with all the others, the chimney has been blocked with a crown of wire.

The jackdaws are extremely puzzled and put out. They occasionally fly the short distance from the ash to the top of the roof to snap at the wire with their beaks. Unlike many people, I’m rather fond of our black-coated corvids.

I admire their intelligence, particularly rooks, with whom jackdaws often feed, but, last year, the arrival down the flue of a young jackdaw plus a pile of sticks and soot resulted in devastating damage to both the sitting room and my wallet.

I’ve met tame jackdaws that can ‘speak’ like a parrot, they rival magpies for stealing objects, and, like most country things, shun London as far as possible. There’s something about their cockiness and character that is wholly endearing however, they have an evil side and are notorious egg thieves: they are the Artful Dodgers of the bird world.