Friendly crow enjoys an early winter paddle

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Thank you to all who e-mailed after last week’s mention about the number of coal tits in my garden. It would appear that the influx is fairly widespread across the region.

I really appreciate reader feedback like this.

However, please remember to say where you live as several messages didn’t contain this vital information.

Last Sunday was another of those cold, crisp, sunny days just made for walking, so I decided to head off down the river to see what was about.

On the river were the usual gulls and busy dippers and I paused to watch a group of jackdaws using the shallows for drinking and bathing.

Several female goosanders cruised along the surface of the river, occasionally dipping their heads below the surface to see if any small fish were within striking range.

The ubiquitous herons were scattered around in various locations, usually dozing on the river bank, enjoying the warmth of the sun.

As I approached a wooden footbridge crossing a burn which emptied into the river at this point, I noticed a carrion crow acting strangely.

Normally these wily corvids are off at the merest hint of human presence, but this one carried on tossing fallen leaves into the air to see if anything edible lurked underneath.

I stopped to watch and it continued as if I wasn’t there, leaving me time to take loads of pictures. At one point, it waded into the muddy delta formed by the burn and started pulling leaves out of the water, looking for food.

I was so engrossed in photographing this behaviour that I failed to notice the approach of a lady who was out for her Sunday constitutional.

She must have been there for several minutes before I eventually saw her. I explained what I was up to and she said: “Oh that thing’s here every day. A lady comes here and feeds it all the time.”

So much for my stealth and wildlife observational skills!

Anyway, it was a great opportunity to see such a normally shy bird up close and to get some pictures for my files.