Country mouse on the circle of life

The running battle between the crows and the jackdaws exploded early on Sunday morning. Springing out of bed to see what was causing the most infernal cawing, I half expected to see a fox being mobbed in the chicken run. However, a pitched battle was taking place between the corvids on the drive. Almost as soon as it started, a young jackdaw lay dead, pierced by a violent stab from the crow. The jackdaws went mad, swooping at the great black bird, which nonchalantly ate it. Nature can be extremely violent.

Everywhere, there is young. Rabbits the size of tennis balls skip around the hedgerows, young robins with speckled orange breasts demand more and more food from their parents, and the house martins (we’ve got many more than last year) swoop up into the eaves to feed their young. I spotted two squabs crouching on the compost heap at the end of the garden and locked the terriers up before they could get to them.

However, by teatime, both of the young pigeons were dead, seemingly of natural causes. I threw them into the field, and later watched as the same clattering of jackdaws that had been in the morning’s battle began to peck at the corpses.