THE time is rapidly approaching when early nesting birds become active and as our winters become warmer then those birds may breed even earlier. Early nesters include Egyptian goose, heron, crow and of course rook (pictured). Egyptian geese may well produce broods even before Christmas and the little goslings are a delight to watch trotting around.
I’m always amazed to see herons, such ungainly lanky birds building nests rather precariously high up in tall trees and early January will see them busy.
Rooks begin building or repairing old nests in December and it is amusing to watch them squabbling when a rook flies in to nick a twig from a neighbouring nest and if caught, loud cawing ensues. However, as towns and cities expand, rooks are being driven further into the countryside and the last two rookeries I used to watch have ceased to exist which is a shame although farmers will no doubt be pleased to see the back of them!
If the weather remains mild, some other species such as blackbird may be tempted to nest early and that could prove fatal for eggs and chicks if sudden frosts occur or snow falls.
Over the last few years swallows, traditionally arriving from early April, have been recorded flying in in February at a time when flying insect prey is very scarce, so not always a good move.
A few weeks ago, a mistle thrush began singing his far-reaching song at the summit of a tall leylandii tree, a favourite perch in past years. So lovely to hear in late autumn.