A few posts ago I lamented the fact I’d be leaving a job with panoramic views of Sheffield City Centre, meaning I’d miss seeing the occasional brief but tantalising glimpse of birds of prey.
But, to be honest, being able to wander round Weston Park and Crookes Valley Park on my dinner hour much outweighs this. It’s great to be able to sit and eat dinner watching the ducks at play. All are Mallards at Crookes Valley, though a few are obviously a bit dubious genetically and it’s always fun to try and guess their parentage (most are with farmyard types, of course, but I saw one today with a yellow eye, bluish beak and blue sheen to its head which suggested a bit of Tufted in there somewhere). There’s also Moorhens, Coots and Black-headed Gulls, the latter of which really prove themselves to be proper pirates when there’s bread being thrown and they swoop in and steal it straight out of a Mallard’s beak.
There’s also plenty of songbirds, including as Long-tailed Tits (one of which I’ve seen collecting lichen for nest material already), and a stupid amount of Magpies, as there seems to be everywhere in Sheffield at the moment. Just down the road in the Ponderosa, I saw 14 in one tree. Now there’s not a rhyme for superstitious people for that one, is there? I thought it was pretty good going seeing that many in one place, but I read up and apparently you can occasionally get roosts of up to 100 magpies, which is a sight I’d like to see.
And going back to raptor spotting, the first lunch hour I spent in Weston Park was just after it had snowed. Magpies, Carrion Crows, Woodpigeons, Feral Pigeons and Squirrels were hopping about after what bits of food people had left for them, and suddenly a female Sparrowhawk swooped out of the sky and sent them scattering, before settling in a tree not far away, keeping her beady eyes on proceedings.
Now that’s better than a fleeting glimpse out of the office window…