Mrs Turnstone nearly burst into applause this morning. Our cock blackbird was making a tremendous fuss, chasing off the magpie who no doubt got too close to the nest. I don’t go looking for nests along our boundaries, as you never know who’s watching!
Talking as we were of ravens, we saw a full set of crows in Anglesey and Caernarfon: Raven, rook, carrion crow, jay, jackdaw, and the inescapable magpie, as well as the choughs around South Stack. Carrion crows, as in Kent, fancy themselves as waders, and ravens seem to like the beach as well; choughs and jackdaws enjoy the wind, as if having fun in the air is what they were created for. There won’t be so much time to play in a week or two, when breeding really gets going!
Lunch with the cuckoo was special enough, but I had arrived at the Goods Shed just as Enzo was taking the bread from the oven. My loaf was wrapped in a flash and straight in my bag. Back home, I spread it with wild garlic pesto, tomato paste, cheese and olives. Satisfying!
Read NAIB’s account of foraging Welsh wild garlic, below.
Mrs Turnstone is trying to grow some in a shady part of our garden, thanks to a gift from a friend. We’ve allowed ourselves no more than a couple of leaves for salad this year, hoping the patch will spread.
Just too late for St George’s day, the cuckoo was calling from the railway bank (See ‘Vandalism takes many forms’) yesterday as I sat out for lunch and later for afternoon tea. The clamour of our local blackbirds and robins did not quite drown him out. The two cocks take turns to sing from our apricot tree.
Saint George’s did have one returning migrant to show me – a kittiwake gull by as I cycled along the beach against a brisk East wind, only to find my appointment cancelled. The health police would tell me the ride did me good; I know the kittiwake and the cuckoo did!
We crossed the Britannia Bridge to stay near the Menai Straits, with views across to Snowdonia: well named on our arrival as the tops were white. We enjoyed four seasons in a week. The first weather to impose itself was the wind, sweeping across the island from East to West, blowing NAIB into my arms as we climbed the steps to Our Lady Star of the Sea in Amlwch. Later in the week rain did not prevent her joining the old folks across the Menai Bridge in Caernarfon while G studied. Telford’s Menai Suspension Bridge is older, built in 1826 for the Irish Mail Coaches to Holyhead, and strengthened since to take modern traffic. Stephenson’s Britannia Bridge was built in 1850 for the Railway, but vandals destroyed the track and the iron tubes carrying it. The piers remain, with a new road and rail bridge built between them in 1970. We were pleased to cross them both!
The evening sun shone when these pictures were taken, full on the Menai Bridge but, seen from the East, shining through to emphasise the grace of the 1970 structure between the Britannia’s piers.
A week across the border with Mrs T, NAIB and HDGB: the students preparing to finish their courses deserved a reading week on Anglesey, Ynys Môn. Peace among the daffodils to gather thoughts onto paper or disc.
The sun shone and we sat out of doors with our coffee. A call drew eyes to the sky where six big birds circled on the thermals. ‘Buzzards’, suggested HDGB, but no buzzard ever barked like that. ‘Ravens’, I asserted.
The species are similar in size, both have fingered ends to their wings, though their tails differ. As we watched, it became clear that neither of our identifications was wrong. A pair of buzzards were being attacked in mid-air and sent packing by the ravens, swooping in and pecking the hawks’ wingtips.
We once witnessed a similar display over our heads in Kent, when rooks were asserting their territorial rights. This time the buzzards soared back towards the mainland as the sun’s brightness took them from our sight.