Viola Stirling’s Nature Diary: 29 May 1921

Viola’s latest entry is away from home in Aviemore. She describes birds ‘mobbing’ a hawk and this reminds her of a similar instance with an owl. The mob consisted of different birds, including blackbirds, sparrows and chaffinches. ‘Mobbing‘ behaviour is used by birds to ward off a predator and it is not unusual for the mob to consist of a variety of bird species.

It is unclear where Viola is keeping watch on these birds. All we know is that it is in a moor in the Aviemore area and she is at 700ft. Please let us know if you have any thoughts?! She mentions the altitude when she notes that she hasn’t seen any pheasants. She recalls that last year they saw a ‘crowd of pheasants’. Presumably she was just using ‘crowd’ as a descriptive term, as traditionally a group of pheasants is known as a ‘bouquet‘. Despite the lack of pheasants, Viola has spotted blackheaded gulls, oyster catchers and jackdaws during her visit to Aviemore.

Transcript

May 29. Aviemore. On a moor.

Saw birds mobbing a hawk. This reminds me

that last year I saw some birds mobbing a poor

wretched owl. The poor beast was up a tree and

surrounded by blackbirds thrushes sparrows

starlings chaffinches and lots of others. They

were screaming at the pitch of their voices

and going up quite close and pecking

him. There are a lot of blackheaded gulls and

oyster catchers here. There are no pheasants here

as far as I can see. Perhaps it is too high (700ft) Plenty

of Jackdaws though. Last year about this time we

saw a crowd of pheasants – about 20 – starting from

one side of the field in front of the house and

walking straight along until they came to an

elm tree Which they promptly flew up into

Twenty pheasants on one tree was the funniest

sight. Then they all came down and went on

over the burn. I cannot imagine what made

them do it.

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