Time for turf wars
FOR birds, romance is now dead. The robins in the garden are no longer singing for a mate, but rather to guard a territory and they will kill each other to defend it. At night, the tawny owls stake out territories with screeches and softer burbles, often competing with parents or close relatives for the same territory. The individual families of swallows are flocking together in vast roosts, often of more than 1,000 birds, prior to their migration to Africa. From the east, great skeins of geese are heading our way to winter in our temperate climate. For birds, it’s now all about being in the right place at the right time.
Many more birds migrate than is generally realised and about half the species in Britain migrate to some extent. For instance, the blackbird in your garden at Christmas may have arrived from Eastern Europe. Others, such as skylarks, are altitudinal migrants, moving from upland areas in the summer to lower areas in winter. Waxwings only migrate to Britain when their food has run out in Scandinavia. Most of the time, they don’t come at all. Only a minority, such as the corpulent grey partridge and the scowling tawny owl, hardly move at all and are known sedentary birds. MH