FEW BIRDS, GOING about their normal business, are more fun to watch than the treecreeper, and I can’t think of anything more delightful than to watch a pair bring off a brood in a well-appointed aviary. In Bill Naylor’s typically wide-ranging article on this species (page 14), he cites examples of treecreepers mistaking people for trees.
Sceptical? Well, it’s happened to me! As a teenager, on holiday in Anglesey, I watched a treecreeper, unusually, foraging along a line of wooden fence posts. Standing quite still, I saw it hitch all the way up the nearest post, and then without warning it flicked into the air and landed on my chest! That second of contact with a wild bird came like a jolt of electricity, but as well as shock I was filled with happiness and a sense of liberation. Next instant I felt it thrust off, then saw the little brown shape whisk off among the trees. Either I’d moved or it couldn’t see enough spiders to eat – I’d like to think the former. But believe me, that was one time when it was a pleasure to be mistaken for a fence post.
■ In a year when so many sections of show birds have found it difficult to match the numbers of recent years, it’s gratifying to read of the strong growth in the old and rare variety canaries, and specially the Scots. Those historic and exotic breeds are clicking with lots more breeders nowadays, that’s plain. Donald Skinner-Reid celebrates the success on page 10 – and, staying with the Scots fancy, I’d draw readers’ attention to the important statement about show cages for Scots on page 22. The suggestion to make rented show cages available sounds a good initiative and I’ll be interested to hear how it’s taken up.
■ Talking of rare variety canaries, it’s good to see Warwicks advertised for sale this week (see page 25). Some encouraging news on another Midland variety, the Staffs, would be welcome.
■ Ed’s Quote of the Week: “The show team also includes mealy and common redpolls, greenfinches, mules and hybrids, and Norwich canaries, so it is considerably more varied than my ‘Gloster canaries only’ days. Each species or variety needs its own specific preparation.” Yes, it’s not a quiet life that Austin Middlemiss has chosen (see page 12), but with his thrushes to exhibit, too, it doesn’t half sound interesting!