Robin and Mole
Slaley, Northumberland
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picture of a robin


We are all very familiar with robins and we think we know everything about them. But they can still surprise us with something we have not seen before.

Robins in Europe are described as shy woodland birds, not at all like the British robin, although they are the exact same species. Our robins inhabit almost every garden in village and town alike, generally very trusting and the first to appear when food is provided during the winter. It is a familiar shape out of the corner of our eye when we are digging the garden, weeding or sweeping leaves. The robin is so familiar, at times we do not even notice until it flits down to snatch its reward - a small insect or worm - long before anything else dares to come near. So why have the European robins not evolved the same? Could it be because, unlike us, Europe did not lose wild boar as a breeding species? Wild boar are the original digging, weeding and leaf movers and that is what robins originally learned to follow.

So back to robins doing something I have not seen before ..... I watched a robin perched about 12 feet up looking intently at an area where there were three groups of mole hills. It was waiting for movement, evidence of putting. It was easy for me to see from ground level as there was a covering of snow and the black soil rolling down the side of the mole hill was obvious. When this happened, the robin flew down and pecked around in the newly turned soil clearly extracting tasty morsels too small for the mole to bother with. It then returned to its perch to watch for the next episode of putting.

Colin Jewitt

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