The First Ladybird Book of British Birds – #9 The Magpie

It’s Day 9 of turning the pages in this 1950s Ladybird book to see what’s changed in the past 60 years:

Ladybird Book of British Birds - The Hall of Einar

“The Magpie… is a very beautiful bird with a rather nasty nature.”

“Nasty”? The world was obviously a very anthropocentric place back then.

The Ladybird book continues:

“Magpies build wonderful nests high up in trees.”

Forty years ago I looked out of my parents’ bedroom window and watched intently as Magpies built their nest in the Poplar trees opposite. It was a grey February with horizontal bands of drizzle sweeping across the field and no chance of going out to play.

Magpie - The Hall of Einar - (c) David Bailey (not the)

Last year I finally got close to one:

Magpie - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

And in The Regent’s Park in London one came to collect a woman’s peanuts:

Magpie - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

“Magpies build wonderful nests high up in trees. They are very big and strong, and when finished the birds put roofs of thorny sticks on top, turning their homes into fortresses.”

Back in my nature notebooks forty years ago I wrote: “Looking at the large nest it appears to have a roof.”

Magpie - The Hall of Einar - (c) David Bailey (not the)

In the corner of the page I drew a Magpie flying with its wonderful white wing flashes. Last year I finally took a photograph of the same pose:

Magpie - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Magpies. Not nasty at all.

Magpie - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

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