Whitstable Birds: A Turf War
I’ve been growing some lawn. It’s a long stretch of turf running the length of my flat next to the wall which had died off. I scraped off all the old dead grass, broke up the soil, scattered grass seeds along the length of it, put some compost on top and then began watering it. I’ve been watering it every evening as the sun goes down.
After about two weeks the grass began to sprout, and the lawn began to take hold. Instead of the dusty strip of scrubland which had previously been there, there was a lush, green lawn.
Then something strange happened. Bits of the lawn started to go missing. There were chunks of it dug out along the length of the wall and, occasionally, abandoned bits of turf lying on the grass a few feet away.
After that I began seeing these two crows lurking about. They had a sort of shifty look about them. Evil-looking creatures, like malevolent priests, with an arrogant gait and long, vicious-looking beaks, they were strutting about outside my flat, clearly up to no good.
I watched as one of them seemed to take the position of look-out, while the other disappeared under the eves. I banged the window, and they flew off, and I could see it clearly: one of them was clutching a lump of turf in its claws.
I guess they are using it for their nest. So now I am at war. They can find some other bits of turf to use.
Ragged black shadows
During the day the crows appear on top of the buildings opposite, like ragged black shadows flapping against the sky. I lie in wait concealed beneath my window sill. They are reconnoitring the site ready for the attack.
When they land, I leap up and shout through the window. You don’t want to hear what I say, as this is a family newspaper. The crows scream back at me, cawing vicious curses over their shoulders as they fly off. They are trying to break my nerve, waiting for me to surrender.
It’s what you might call a “turf-war”. I am defending my turf.
From The Whitstable Gazette.
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Mentioned in an article in the New York Times recently, Whitstable is a unique Kent coastal town just over an hour by train from central London. CJ Stone liked it so much he decided to move there.
This is in memory of my friend Max Denning, former landlord of the East Kent, who died in hospital a few years back after a short illness
You may have seen Alan Davies, the comedian, on QI with Stephen Fry, quoting from a song about Peter Cushing, who spent the last years of his life in Whitstable