Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

In the the Nuthatch and Its Upside-Down World Wild ; Peak Practice

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

In the the Nuthatch and Its Upside-Down World Wild ; Peak Practice

Article excerpt

with LIAM CREEDON Mown A sudden movement at the bird feeder at the top of the garden attracted my attention. It wasn't the usual great and blue tits, which regularly flit in and out of the surrounding trees to feed. No, this was definitely something different.

modern THE rasping call of the corncrake was, for centuries, a sound that was synonymous with British summertime.

On its head was a bold, black bandit-type mask, and its underparts beneath its slate-blue back and wings were a subtle, almost peach, colour.

With a ventriloquist's ability to throw its voice and a shyness rendering it almost invisible amidst the meadows.

But the most unusual feature of the bird - and what really gave its identity away - was the fact that it was feeding headfirst and upside down.

The skulking corncrake, with the looks of a brown and streaky moorhen, was well known by sound, if not by sight, to country folk across the length and breadth of the UK, monotonously blasting out its 'crek crek' call throughout the night.

It could only be a nuthatch, the uncrowned acrobat of British treedwelling birds, and the only one which travels down a tree to feed on insects in the bark. Indeed, at one time it was thought that they even roosted upside down.

Then, in the blink of an eye, the corncrake disappeared. The once They are the complete opposite of their cousins, widespread farmland bird became extinct from England and Wales and was pushed to the extremities of Scotland.

the aptly-named dowdy, dull-brown treecreepers, which only creep up the tree trunk, like a scuttling mouse.

The corncrake's undoing was the Industrial Revolution. Hay meadows that had been cut laboriously by hand scythe were suddenly levelled by mechanised horse-drawn mowers. The older As I grabbed my binoculars to get a closer look at this welcome new arrival to the garden, it swept up into our goat willow and continued its upside- down antics in search of grubs or other insects hidden in the rotting bark. …

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