Sunday, April 20, 2008
Murder in the Playground
The crescent moon of bark and mulch spilled over to the narrow pathway of the public seating in the play area of Merrion Park. The previous nights wind ensured the park attendant had its work cut out for him. I bring my girls here nearly every morning around 8:30am to breakfast with the birds and run the steam out of them before lunchtime. Its a ritual that starts off with them trying to climb up beside Oscar Wilde, then to the playground and then sitting on the late Dermot Morgans (Father Ted) Jesters chair to eat strawberry sandwiches and feed the birds.
Yesterday the little oasis of greenery here in the city took on a bit of a sinister hue. The playground is usually empty at that hour of the morning, so my girls have the run of the place. The silence of the playground was only broken occasionally with my children shouting me to look at them whilst they went down the slide or climbed a certain level of a climbing frame. Then a cacophony of noise invaded the air, I looked up to see two magpies rowing with a huge raven, the magpies where obscured by the foliage of the pine tree but I knew their machine gun caws and had no problem seeing the raven.
After about five minutes there was a cascade of feathers and alarming sounds from the birds that made the girls stop in their tracks. Clearly I could see the raven pinch one of the magpies neck and throw it with much force (and its owner) across a few branches where it slumped and fell to the ground just outside the perimeter of the playground fencing. The remaining magpie cawed furiously and the murdering raven absconded the scene. The other poor bugger flew down to its slain friend cocked its head and flew off. No doubt it went looking for the raven to avenge its friends death. I didn't think that ravens or magpies where predatory of their own species (as ravens and magpies belong to the corvid family) so I did a little bit of research to see why or what could have possibly happened - as it turns out magpies are notorious for eating other birds eggs so I surmised that it was possibly these partners in crime had upset the ravens nest and one of them payed a heavy price at the ravens beak. Did justice prevail ? Maybe. But explaining to my girls that the 'birdy was taking a rest' was easier than telling them a murder had just taken place amongst the flora and fauna of the park..