We must watch the birdies
THIS is a tough time for baby birds – in fact this particular little fellow is very lucky to be alive.
I was inches away from squashing him on a quiet road at Seaton Carew, mainly because he was a little hesitant in trying to get across.
I was driving along when I had to brake quickly as a mother pheasant and five chicks ambled across the road right in front of me.
I stopped to admire the family, which was in the safety of the grass, but realised the mother bird was quite agitated.
Then my wife opened the front passenger door to discover this little chap standing right next to my tyre, with his brother or sister at a slightly safer distance just behind.
A quick photo session and then we eased gently away, giving the two remaining chicks the chance to join the rest of their family.
But the incident brought home the fact that one of the biggest threats to young – and old - animals is our roads. A recent survey suggested that 50 million birds are killed on our roads every year.
It sounds incredible. We all see plenty of dead adult pheasants and a few gulls, but the smaller roadkill are harder to spot from a moving vehicle. Apparently house sparrows are the most common victims, even more so than pheasants.
There’s also an increasing numbers of dead mammals. I’ve never seen a live badger, but on a trip to South Wales and back two weeks ago I spotted at least half a dozen dead ones.
Dead foxes were everywhere too, and I’ve probably seen more dead deer in 2017 than in all the previous years put together. Naturally the plight of the hedgehog is well catalogued. This idea of rolling up into a ball only works on occasions.
Frogs and toads also suffer in huge numbers. Toads have a habit of getting mown down en masse as they head for breeding grounds. Even the smallest toad tunnel apparently costs £30,000 to install.
Of course many drivers have no chance of avoiding collisions. Several years ago, on the A66 in heavy rain on the way home from a Boro night match, a fox ran into my car.
But there is a message there for all of us. We must always keep an eye out for the wildlife as well as pedestrians when we are driving, especially in the country.
And when you see reduced speed limits in quiet areas, respect them.