A clacking so like the old (very old!) football rattles I used to hear as a child, long before footballers were paid more than Prime Ministers' and rattles were confiscated at the grounds as dangerous weapons. The noise around the clump of trees was coming from a pair of Magpies ironically; ironically, since rattles were first developed in farming areas to scare away birds from crops.
This pair - devilish handsome, but so disliked by the 'fashionable intelligence' – were kicking up quite a symphony. The clump of trees lies just on the edge of Battlefield next to a busy road, yet it increasingly resembles the entrance to a country lane. Who ever had the foresight to plant trees here should live to see this, I thought. A act of faith indeed. Now the trees are large enough for Magpies to build in their branches. And for an unwelcome 'guest' to poke about in also.
I spotted the reason for the commotion high above me, a lithe, creamy coloured creature with an Egyptian profile, but named after a place much, much further east. Siamese, if you please! The combination of sound and colour were exotic. Just above the intruder I could make out a rudimentary nest. Magpies, in common with other members of their tribe, the crows, are clever animals. They build superbly and, unusually, constructing from sticks a large domed nest with, as it were, a 'front door'. I doubt this pair had anything as yet, except eggs perhaps, and I think their feline visitor would not be interested in those.
As I watched (but did not interfere) the cat spun and twisted easily from branch to branch as it approached the problem of descent, languid and unhurried.
I did not wait to see it drop, gracefully I imagine, to the ground.
Leaden skies made me leave my camera at home. Pity, since the blossom is out all around and beginning to fall. All too briefly, the froth of pink, white and cream will be gone. Meanwhile, the trees are thriving and the views across Battlefield are framed in bright fresh foliage. Even the laggardly ash trees are in leaf now.
Magpie Pica pica (photo:www.squidoo.com)