I had a bit of a shock early this morning when I caught sight of a large pink and beardy thing moving around in the garden. It took me a moment or two to register that what I was looking at was in fact Jerry, aka The Badger, wearing my old rose dressing gown and an ancient, battered, flattened-rimmed stetson. He was refilling the feeders. I rushed for my camera but with that unerring instinct all wildlife seems to possess, he instantly looked up and the moment was gone. Such a shame, I would have loved to share the spectacle.
However, one wonderful sight was soon replaced by another when a sudden eruption of raucous squawking announced the arrival of a band of hopeful youngsters all looking to pair up. The jays are back – no more skulking around keeping a low profile or hiding away in the woods for them. It’s March and they’re out and proud, raising crests and bossing each other about, spreading their gorgeous wings and flashing their super white underpants at each other in enthusiastic group courtship displays. They’re dynamic birds and they have such presence, I love, love, love them. They are lovely subjects to illustrate and what’s more, rather unexpectedly, they lend themselves very readily to caricature. So how could I resist? Welcome back you beautiful birds.