A pair of jays flew over the car park as the Friends left on Wednesday after a morning’s work cutting back brambles.

Jays (Garrulus glandarius) are corvids, relative of the park’s mapies, rooks, jackdaws and crows. They are the UK’s most colourful corvid with bright blue flashes on their wings and a distinctive white rump that shows best in flight. They are shy woodland birds, rarely far from cover and difficult to see until they take flight; something they often announce with a loud, unmistakable shriek.

Corvids: magpies and a jackdaw (pictures by DKG)

The park’s tree cover has been increasing for some years now and it has become ideal territory for jays; lots of oaks in a mixture of woodland and meadow. Like most corvids, jays are omnivores but they are known for collecting and storing acorns for their winter diet. In the autumn they cache thousands of acorns which they carry away from the tree three or four at a time in a specially adapted gullet, and bury, sometimes individually, sometimes in batches. They seem to have a remarkable ability to remember where they put them

Jays are known for collecting and storing acorns.

The park’s acorn crop, perhaps as a result of the warm wet summer, has been exceptionally heavy this year. If food is in short supply, jays can become nomadic in winter, but this year we expect our jays will stay and defend their territories, chasing away any competition despite the glut of acorns.

Conservation status: Classified in the UK as Green under the Birds of Conservation Concern 4: the Red List for Birds (2015). Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981

Header picture from the public domain

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