by Richard Jones

Sunday, and the spring sunshine hit East Dulwich with a blast of warmth that has got everything moving again...

Richard JonesSunday, and the spring sunshine hit East Dulwich with a blast of warmth that has got everything moving again. The blue sky was almost painful to the eyes, after so much grey recently. Our south-facing fence, covered with ivy, was alive with sunbathing beasts: shieldbugs, spiders, ladybirds, bees, and two cats nestled in at the bottom. The newts have returned to the pond too; four of them were swimming about in there. These are the regular denizens of my garden, but two unusual visitors were a pair of jays.

I do occasionally catch a glimpse of these handsome birds, although magpies and crows are the usual corvids in this part of London. I'm not sure what they were up to, but they spent several minutes strutting about on the small area of decking near the apple tree, before ambling noisily off through the branches and away. This was the second time this week they were here. Maybe they're nesting nearby.

I hear jays more often than I see them, and their angry scrawking call often echoes through Dulwich and Sydenham Hill Woods or Peckham Rye. Linnaeus must have been tittering his socks off when he coined the genus name Garrulus for them.

Finding one of the azure feathers from the bright wing flash is always a treat, and even now I cannot resist picking one up if I see it. They make the perfect adornment to my hat.

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Talkback: Jays
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Gardeners' World Web User 20/03/2009 at 14:09

I have always loved jays, they used to come into our garden when I was small but my grandparents (who lived in an annexe of our house) said they were bullies because they chased away the other birds so jays weren't very popular in our house. I suppose I felt a bit sorry for them - after all, they're so handsome! Since I got married and moved twenty minutes' drive nearer London, I haven't seen a single one :-( We get magpies and carrion crows (LOADS of them recently for some reason) but no jays unfortunately.

Gardeners' World Web User 21/03/2009 at 21:21

Don't Jays eat acorns? So perhaps having an oak tree in the vicinity is helpful.

Gardeners' World Web User 06/04/2009 at 21:04

Beautiful to look at Jays and Magpies but don't they kill blue tits Robins and all the other little birds that we hold so dear.

Gardeners' World Web User 14/04/2009 at 13:00

Reply to Kay Curtis Like rooks, crows and magpies, jays are predators and will take nestlings if they get the chance. There are a lot of comments on the pros and cons of magpies on another blog entry http://blog.gardenersworld.com/2008/02/13/rj-magpies-mice-1302008/

Gardeners' World Web User 28/11/2011 at 18:38

We have a family of Jays that have been nesting in the eaves of our house for longer than we have lived here which is 7 years. Yes they can be noisy and boisterous but the resident Blackbirds, Tits, Robins etc in our manicured conifers trees keep them in check. We are fortunate to live on the edge of farming land so our birds we see are quite a mixed bunch. Is it true that Jays are a protected bird?