I’m off to the football tonight so here’s a little story from last Wednesday…
As I sat in the Embankment gardens, waiting for Mirinda, I watched a couple of crows through my telephoto lens, hoping one of them would maybe take off and give me a good ‘on the wing’ shot. In this endeavour, I was disappointed however, the following more than made up for it.
There’s always lots of stupid pigeons foraging around among the cigarette butts and litter in virtually every green space in London. They dart in and out of people’s legs, flying so close that casual lunchtime walkers have to duck quickly or risk serious injury. They seem to have no fear of the big clumping humans or maybe it’s some strong and misguided survival instinct that forces them into close proximity.
Opposite my bench there was a whole crowd of pigeons, wandering over to me in case I was about to spill a few crumbs. This proves they’re stupid because all I had was a Starbucks coffee and not a skerrick of food. Just beyond them, safely on the grass and at a distance to the path, were two crows.
The crows were happily pecking away at whatever crows peck away at until one of them spotted something interesting. I saw it’s head prick up while it’s mate kept pecking. It started to move closer to my camera.
The edge of the grass is delineated with a border of wood, a bit higher than the path and the crow stopped at this, unsure of how to proceed. I could see legs passing through my camera, the crow getting dangerously close. His head darted left and right and down, eyes switching between the danger of the legs and the need for his target.
Suddenly he pounced – onto the path, his prize in his beak and then back onto the grass, safe and sound. So quick he was a blur. He slipped away from me as he darted back to stand a short way beyond his mate. I found him again and realised what his prize was: a sweet in a plastic wrapper.
Firmly grasped in his beak, the crow shook the sweet, trying to force it out of the wrapper. It looked like some sort of crystal mint, the kind that sticks to its plastic wrap. He gave it a few shakes then dropped it, annoyed. Using his feet to hold it down, he tried to unwrap it with his beak. This also defeated him, though part of me wished it had stuck to his feet so some good old fashioned slapstick could ensue.
He’d clearly had enough of the niceties of eating sweets and then set about stabbing it with his beak. Like a woodpecker announcing his territory at the top of a tall hardwood tree, his head came down repeatedly, like a jackhammer. Smash, smash, smash. He’d obviously invested too much time and energy in this delicacy to give up now. And then, suddenly, he broke through.
I can only imagine the sweet was now in several thousand fragments, probably still clinging to the remains of the plastic wrapper. The crow, however, had managed to taste the contents, finally. If a crow can show his emotions, this one was glowing with disgust. He looked down at his hard won prize, not quite believing that something could taste so awful.
His head went side to side as he looked at the mess of nastiness and, with a few sudden flicks of his beak, almost as if he was sneezing, he walked off. He rejoined his mate who seemed completely disinterested in any of it, seemingly aware of the follies of sweets. I think I detected a slight smirk on his beak.