Air rifle in hand - on a mission against crows

A suspicious figure loiters in the shade of an ivy covered shed. Not

only suspicious but armed. With an air rifle. And a carrion crow in his sights. John is on a Mission to Kill.

Carrion crows are a real bane at the moment.

Although the lambs in the paddock are not under any immediate threat from these malevolent, highly intelligent birds, carrion crows are above all opportunists.

A pair are perching in an oak tree that overlooks the paddock. As far as I am concerned, they are just waiting for the chance to swoop down and have a peck at a sleeping lamb. Cue my sniper.

John’s other task is keeping jackdaws from roosting in the chimney pots.

They perch on the television aerials whilst deciding décor and furnishing for their pent house homes.

As a result of shots pinging off the aerial, we now have decidedly dodgy reception in the front sitting room because half of the aerial is missing.

Avian creatures he is forbidden from shooting currently are the guinea fowl. From a flock of over thirty last year we are down to nine.

The rest went in the freezer. For the past month I have been scouring every patch of nettles and monitoring any suspicious nesting behaviour on their part to see if they have started to lay.

Never mind John loitering with intent, I have been reported to the guinea fowl police on more than one occasion I am sure as a stalker.

With the advent of the warmer weather our hens have gone into over lay. Broody as well.

Two of them are in controlled nests, sitting eggs I was given by a friend with a commercial poultry unit and another sitting a clutch of mallard eggs.

John found an abandoned nest a couple of mornings ago with a recently devoured duck close by.

Mr Reyanrd’s breakfast we presume.

The eggs were still warm so a broody bantam who I had been ejecting from her nesting place every morning over the past week, suddenly found her maternal prayers answered.

She is now surrogate Mum to eight duck eggs.

The eggs from the commercial unit last year hatched into prolific, but wild hens. They lay beautiful large eggs, but not always in their dedicated nest boxes.

Top of a haystack, tucked into a feed trough, behind a pillar in the cattle shed and even in amongst the silage are all favourite nesting sites.

Every day is a challenge to outwit these hens. They frequently win.

But the most wonderful surprise came yesterday when I emptied the eggs from the nest boxes in the hen house to discover four guinea fowl eggs in amongst the hen eggs.

Is this a cunning plan?

Lull me into a false sense of security and lay one or two token eggs in the hen house whilst the rest of the gang sneak off to lay in an inaccessible, and unknown to me, patch of nettles? I’m watching them.