Kites,Crows,Owls and Oxfam

Well if it isn’t lambs it is birds as they might say in Deepest Sussex – if we knew anyone who was actually originated from Deepest Sussex.

We have a pair of kites living round here – no longer as rare as they were – but still a delight to watch soaring and sweeping around the back field.

They are not, in case you are not familiar with kites, small birds. Indeed the dog can look quite anxious and prey-like in certain lights.

But it is interesting to watch the corvids/crows/ravens mob them.

I should be more accurate on what type of corvids they are being a big fan of the book by Mark Cocker called ‘Crow Country.’

Amongst other fascinating stuff about corvids, It tells of the difference between crows and other corvids and explains that saying ‘if your see some ravens they are crows and if you see one crow it is a raven’ – or perhaps it is the other way round …, actually crows are sociable.

Anyway, these big kites are circling around looking for prey and out of the woods come the corvids and mob them – swooping around and chasing them off so the ‘poor’ kites heads off for the Downs.

The corvids are half the size of the kites but are quite determined and the kites seem either to be saying, ‘Bloody hell, is it harassment or what?’ or ‘Darling, shall we swoop up to the Downs and circle lazily round there and leave these rather plebeian types to their own thing?’

Whilst on the subject of predators, there is, what I think, is an owl box on one of our trees.

When I say ‘our’, I just mean trees we think of as ours in that they are on our horizon and are the two trees on the top of this blog – of course in fact, they are our landowner’s.

I am sure he knows what he is doing, and maybe the owls like a clear view of the catchment as it were – certainly it is not disguised or protected in any way and, as we say when one of us is washing up, ‘ don’t you think darling, it spoils the look of the tree?’

Remind me to tell you one day of the expensive bird box we put up which had been assiduously ignored by our birds who have then built their nests – insultingly – in the foliage alongside it.

Anyway, the Oxfam bookshop was open on Good Friday only from 10 till 3 so it was short shifts all round -and Joan was on the till in the morning, and I was on in the afternoon.

I had found a lovely book dating from 1941 which was sketches of children and although it was only worth about £3, I thought it was lovely enough to try it at £9.99.

Now Joan and I have a habit of me setting her a book-selling challenge on her shift. A big old bible ( but we had sold those before Easter), a Complete History of Fishing etc etc.

Essentially books I can’t find a place for anywhere else – I leave them on the counter and challenge Joan to sell them.

She looked at the book and although not usually a bibliophile, she was enchanted. That made me up the price to £12.99, and set her the challenge to sell it whilst I was out doing some errands.

In our cabinet – for expensive books (and vinyl as we now call records), was a set of three books called The Birds of Sussex.

(Should there ever be an avid reader of this blog with a good memory, they might recall than I found two of the the three volumes, which of course means they are worth a lot less, and then discovered the third volume under a pile of other stuff.)

Anyway, these books with gorgeous illustrations and I do mean gorgeous, had been in the cabinet for months and months. I was occasionally thinking of culling them and buying them to take home as they are so gorgeous – did I mention before how lovely they were ?

Anyway, (again) I got back from my errands, to find Joan in a high humour.

She had sold the book of children’s sketches – and sold The Birds of Sussex for a princely £100.

Because we were having a short day, I suggested we did not need to cash up once at lunchtime and then again at the end of the day as we usually do, but instead we could carry on through.

‘Oh not on your life,’ said Joan. ‘I am going to get the reading for this shift. You, Lucy, can eat my dust.’

And indeed I did.

I had a nice short shift with good weather and a holiday mood making customers smiley and generous, but no Sussex Birds for me.


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