Spring is here and to mark the start of a season of mating and loving, two male blackbirds are having daily battles on the roof of my summer house. It is a parade ground, a boxing arena, a prized territory or, possibly, the border between two.
They follow each other, day after day back and forth across the roof of the summer house, bouncing now one way, now the other.
“I’ve seen you off.”
“No, I’m back and I’ll see you off.”
It’s been over a week now and still no one is the victor.
This ritualised marching, like the soldiers at the gate between Indian and Pakistan involves much ferocious glaring and head shaking.
Occasionally, an airborne battle erupts, a spiral of black wings and extended claws, gaping bills and gleaming eyes and, then, silence. They vanish to seach for worms, cocking an ear at the soil and ruminating on which tactic will finally settle this score.