Google suggested I try the RSPB, so I gave them a click and found quite a useful bird identifier. It narrowed things down to the Dunnock – not bad considering we started from a blurry photo of a small brown bird.
The Dog and I were on our way home – we had just been down to the level crossing and had been rewarded with a ‘fly past’ of part of the track-laying train. We recognised it, as it had spent the (very) early hours of one Sunday morning, thumping and clattering its way along our bit of embankment. As we hurried homeward, with the promise of coffee and a biscuit to speed us onward, we became aware of a chirp, chirp, chirping in the hedgerow to our right. The hedge is quite high here but we could see that, that most common of form of wildlife, the small brown bird, was perched on the top. I held the camera above my head and took a few pictures. As you can see, we do have a reasonable photo as a result.
The Dunnock is that bird, beloved of TV wild life programmes, with the sex life that makes ‘Desperate Housewives’ look like a Sunday school picnic. A ‘breeding pair’ can consist of any mix of almost any number of males and females, depending on the available food resources and the territory needed to raise the brood. To add to their entangled relationships, it seems that the Cuckoo, who has been having less and less luck with its normal hosts – probably due to the publicity it has received in the media, has now started dumping occasional eggs on the Dunnock. In spite of the fact that the Cuckoo hasn’t had time to ‘personalise’ its eggs to Dunnock nests, they seem to be being accepted and the Cuckoo chicks successfully raised.
But then, I guess if you’re going to sleep around, you’re bound to have difficulty remembering which egg went with which father.