It’s moulting time for the hardworking birds, hunkering down to recover from raising young to grow some new feathers that will protect them over winter. I see lots of feathers out on walks: some naturally dropped; some clearly predated. I think there must be quite a fat Sparrowhawk around somewhere!

I always love to find a Jay wing feather, and I painted the one I found today. I’m not sure if gouache is the best medium as of course it is matte, and the iridescence and brightness doesn’t convey well, but it’s been a while since I did anything in my nature notebook so I thought I would get back in to the swing with a little painting. I decided to put the feather in to my book to save it from my cat. I am still cross with him for finding my Tawny Owl wing and shredding it unceremoniously at dawn a few weeks ago, so I came down to a disconcerting amount of feathers. He is a housecat so I don’t usually have to deal with fur and feathers but if he finds any I have hidden inexpertly, instinct clearly kicks in.

I heard a group of Jackdaws in the oak tree I walk under most days, and they were making a tremendous racket. Apparently the collective noun is a “clattering” which seems appropriate. I wondered if there was a roosting Tawny Owl [no, cat!] up there as about twenty of them suddenly flew out of the tree as I approached having obviously been exercised by something. I found lots and lots of feathers under the tree, with the beautiful blue-black sheen on the outer edges. Other feathers included a Wood Pigeon and a Great Spotter Woodpecker, and possibly a Song Thrush or young Robin that got on the wrong side of a raptor.

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