Tail-end CharlieSaturday 29th April 2000
A DUNNOCK, looking like a grey mouse, pops its head out of the tangle of ivy and honeysuckle on the shed. The pair are spending a lot of time there, but there no sign of a nest when I take a closer look.
A pair of Coots accompany their young, at least two of them, amongst the rushes on the field between the canal and river. My sketch, from last year, shows an older chick. The chicks I saw today were smaller, blacker and with red on the beak and yellow down on the head.
A female Mallard leads a bigger brood, of around twelve small ducklings, across the open water. She has a tussle with another of the marsh's coots. Her ducklings gather up behind her. As she leads them off, one that has been seperated from the others zips out of the rushes to catch up.
If this was a 1960s wildlife film you'd now hear the aimiable expert Sir Peter Scott comment;
'There's always a tail-end Charlie.'
(an expression used by wartime RAF crews for the last in the line).
Two Linnets are feeding on plants overhanging the canal.