Sunday, 2 November 2014

November 2nd - Jackdaws flyby

I don't expect to win any awards with this sequence of images, but for me they're an important record. I've mentioned a few times that the village jackdaws use the lane at the back of my house as a flight-path. Presumably the delineation between houses and open country is a handsome landmark. They are clockwork in the precision of their movement; 5-7 minutes before sunset and 5 minutes before sunrise they fly by or over the garden. I love this regularity as if I'm in the house I know I can pop outside, say hello and pop back in again.
During the week I had experienced these jackdaws flying past almost at fence height at dawn, close enough to hear every wing beat. Since then they've been slightly higher as they pass, but only to house roof height. They do move about a bit as they pass, sometimes high, sometimes over the field, and sometimes as happened in September, so close to the house (between the silver birch and the house, which is 20 feet) I'm sure I could have touched them. Do they know I wait in anticipation and come to say hello I wonder?

This morning they began streaming past at exactly 7am, (sunrise today = 07.05 hrs), and it was raining, dull and very windy. I'd been up since 4am anyway and observing the weather felt it pointless getting the sound recording kit out. I hatched a plan for the camera.
I've begun using the camera's sports mode for flying birds, 10 images in 1.5 seconds. Great for capturing movement (a video would do that of course but I like a challenge). The downside to this is I have to use the camera pre-settings so, like today, being dark as the jackdaws flew, the images are grainy and dark too. Yet they set the scene, I can see the birds coming and the click click click manages somehow to convey their passing. 
They passed in 4 waves today, each wave of around 20-40 jackdaws interspersed with around 30 seconds to 1 minute of inactivity, so within 4 minutes they'd all passed by. I could hear other jackdaws behind me so the groups had presumably split as they passed by. On rare occasions it seems the whole flock fly by, which at the moment is in the low hundreds of birds, rare occasions indeed. 

Over the next 15 minutes or so the rooks which accompany jackdaws on their foraging days follow the same flight-path, although in small groups and less predictable. Single pairs of jackdaws also fly by too (could I suggest teenagers unwilling to get up?). For the corvid watcher, manna from heaven, and I don't even have to leave the house. Now I shall wait until around 4.45pm and enjoy their return from a days foraging. Plenty time for breakfast.

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