There are always jays somewhere in the reserve
Jays (Garrulus glandarius) are corvids, relative of the our magpies, 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
If food is in short supply, jays can become nomadic in winter. If the acorn crop is abundant, 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