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Donkin's World: Life And Death In The Back Garden

...This morning I heard a commotion outside and went to the bedroom window to see a magpie in the centre of the lawn being attacked by three blackbirds and a blue tit...

Richard Donkin tells of high drama in his own back garden.

Do please visit Richard's well-stocked Web site
http://www.richarddonkin.com/

Details of his book Blood, Sweat and Tears which is acclaimed world-wide can be found here http://www.amazon.co.uk/Blood-Sweat-Tears-Evolution-Work/dp/1587990768/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1214554429&sr=1-2

We have a pair of friendly robins in our garden. If it is the same pair, last year they nested in an old plant pot, but I never saw any fledglings. This year I saw they had nested in a box erected for that very purpose on a fence behind a shrub.

This morning I heard a commotion outside and went to the bedroom window to see a magpie in the centre of the lawn being attacked by three blackbirds and a blue tit. I have heard that birds of a feather flock together but I had not seen different species ganging up against a common enemy before.

The magpie was holding its own. I saw it leap in to the shrub where the robins are nesting, then back on to the lawn. I went out on to the lawn and the magpie flew off. The blackbirds stayed their ground but sounded distressed. I don't know where their nest is but I guess it is close by. We have a nesting box with blue tits too but since the shrubbery has come in to leaf I can no longer see their comings and goings.

I went over to the robins' nest and was disappointed to find that the rotting wooden roof of the nest had been pecked off. The robins had gone. I did not look inside as it was clear their nest had been discovered. There is still time for them to start again but I don't know how I can help them to conceal their nest any more than they had. Magpies are on the lookout constantly at this time of year. I suppose the magpie must have a role as a predator but it seems to exact a heavy toll on the songbirds.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) does not believe that the Magpie is a threat to songbirds but that is not going to help my friendly robins. A Larsen trap could even the odds but some people object to these traps. I don't expect to find any songbirds registered with the protesters.

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