Tuesday, 2 April 2013

A Jackdaw comes a-visiting and rats in the sitting room

We woke yesterday morning to middle son standing at the foot of the bed looking bleary-eyed and saying "I can hear a bird in my chimney."

F's bedroom is in the old bit of the house and as such he has an old fireplace in his room. It's closed off by a metal plate and the chimney isn't used any more: it's more of a pretty feature than anything else these days. For the last few years the jackdaws have been nesting in the chimney pot on the roof above.

We duly went in to listen and sure enough could hear the tell-tale sounds of a bird scraping and fluttering and crying inside the chimney. Removing the metal plate I was confronted with a huge mess of sticks, moss and assorted nesting materials which must have been gathering there for years. I could hear the poor bird just above it. We pulled the sticks etc out and a pair of bird feet appeared.

Realising he wasn't going to come out through the hole while we were all gawping at it we sat back and waited, and within a few seconds a beautiful jet black and mercifully uninjured jackdaw appeared.

He glanced round the room and made a fast bee-line (bird-line?) for the window and was out before we could get any photographic evidence. His friends, who had been peering down the chimney in alarm wondering why one of their party had suddenly disappeared through the nest, all started shouting for joy when he re-joined them on the chimney pot, and then the whole lot of them took off and flew over to the nearest oak where they landed together and listened intently as he told them in a very loud and excitable voice all about his adventure and how brave he'd been. It was rather sweet and touching.








Later that afternoon L came to find me and announce that Teddy "had got" something in the garden and was playing with it. L thought it might perhaps be a bird, so I rushed outside and discovered Teddy looking pleased with himself and a blind baby rat only just alive wriggling helplessly at his feet.

I'm not a fan of rats on the whole but I can't bear to see any living thing in pain and the blind helplessness of the rat made the whole thing worse. It was injured beyond saving so M dispatched it quickly and cleanly. Teddy then showed us where he'd dug up the nest and M covered it with wire to prevent any further baby-stealing. I hadn't put two and two together about rats nests being underground until I saw it, which is stupid because I've seen the rat holes in the garden. This one was tucked out of the way under the hedge, buried well beneath the surface and snugly lined with moss and fur.

That was that, until much later in the day after we'd said goodnight to the kids and retired to watch the new series of Foyle on the tele. Lying on the floor in the middle of the sitting room was another blind baby rat, this time dead. Teddy was curled up in his basket by the fire regarding us with serious eyes in the way he does when he isn't sure whether he's done something wrong or not.

This is nature and I understand it: I just don't like it when it involves tiny helpless babies who can't defend themselves or protect themselves. Having said that I am glad that thanks to Ted there is one less rat's nest growing up in the garden. The chickens hate them; they get very distressed whenever a rat's around, they steal the eggs and I worry about Wiles disease too. However brutal it is, Ted was doing the job of every good terrier and has probably done us a favour in the long run. I will, however, never get used to baby creatures succumbing to the "red in tooth and claw" thing. It just feels wrong.


11 comments:

  1. We had a jackdaw come down a chimney and set the burglar alarm off. I had to drive an hour home from work to let the bird out. By that time it was pretty panicked, so not an easy job.

    Nature can be very cruel sometimes and not at all easy to watch. I have my own problems about how we deal with the mice. Leaving them alone is not an option, we would be overrun.

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    1. I love the idea of you driving for an hour to sort it all out! Did you know the culprit was a bird before you set off?

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    2. Yes. It was caught red handed by a policeman!
      The burglar alarm was one of those that automatically calls them out..

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    3. That's a brilliant story Jessica- I bet the policeman still tells recruits about the time he was called out to a burglary being committed by a bird!

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  2. I have always had a fear of birds flapping their wings and remember with dread when a bird got stuck in a chimney as a child, even through my parents managed to set it free without any harm done. Daisy is good at catching mice too, when we returned home from our trip away there was a dead rat in our garden. Luckily my husband found it first!
    Sarah x

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. I looked fear of birds up on the interweb Sarah, you may already know this - it's called Ornithophobia and is very common, especially the fear of flapping wings, so you are not alone.
      No more rats here- maybe he's had the lot now?

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  3. Rats aren't great but I agree.....not nice to see dead or suffering young! I'll never forget the 'rat man' telling me he could see where they had been scaling our neighbour's vertical wall and getting into their loft under the eaves. I had a dream that night about the whole of the outside wall being a seething mass of vertical rats! Too clever by half. I like Jackdaws though....no bad dreams there.

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    1. Yuk! Sounds like a nightmare Em. My ma says it's the tails that do it. Jackdaws back on the chimney pot this morning, twigs in beaks....

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  4. I'm pleased you managed to rescue the bird; I hope all the local jackdaws have learnt a lesson from its adventure. My dog is a terrier, too - and he'll watch an outbuilding for hours with unbroken concentration if he hears a rat under it.

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    1. Pity terriers don't apply the same level of concentration to their people's voices when being called... I fear the Jackdaws haven't learnt Wendy- they're all back on the chimney pot cramming twigs and moss inside....

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