Sunday, May 04, 2008

Predators and prey

A Sedge Warbler singing half-heartedly at the top of St Anne's was new in since Friday, and there was a good feel about today, with the wind apparently straight from Denmark - good for birds (I heard there were one or two Black Terns around today), but bad for the temperature, which stayed resolutely somewhere round 5 degrees.

Song Thrushes are busy just now - after that juvvy in the garden yesterday, I found another pair with a nest up in the back gardens facing onto the Elsick Burn (parent joining the feeding franzy in the bare field with Blackbirds, Pied Wagtail and errrr... a Great Tit). And for some reason it had an aerial fight with a Starling. And remember I saw a Song Thrush removing a faecal sac from the Cypresses at the Mill garden last week? Well today I found t
he brood. This one first... mutilated (apparently) by a cat and left on the side of the path under the Cypresses.

Then 3 m further up I found a sibling, and just up from that, another one - all broken and then left to rot by some bored decadent cat, probably called 'Fluffy' or something and his owners think he 'never catches anything'. Mind, I'm only guessing.

I lined them up on the wall for a last family photograph. I guess there's a chance there was another 1-2 in the brood that maybe got away (or maybe the cat was full after 1)

Be still my son, you're home

In the bushes down the track... Common Pheasant, singing Willow Warblers, Barn Swallows and onther newbie - Common Whitethroat singing intermittently in the drizzle.

A female Northern Wheatear on the beach was further encouragement. And there was another one on the clifftops. Offshore... apart from the usual auks, Black-legged Kittiwakes and Northern Fulmars, today saw the first Atlantic Puffins on the water, just off from the colony. One with a beakful of seaweed (??). A few white lines of Northern Gannets (that analogy would work better if the sea was like a mirror, but unfortunately it was choppy. Cut even. Two Manx Shearwaters north (first of the year) and a mild unusuality - 2 Tufted Ducks south.

Nothing of note in the allotments, AGAIN. All those shiny dangling Tiffany CDs muct be scaring them off. I think we're alone now... there doesn't seem to be any migrants arou-and. Coastal fields deafening with the sound of 6+ Eurasian Skylarks doing their noisy thing, but really just all last week's stuff (Common Linnets, Yellowhammers, Meadow Pipits..) all over again.

When I got to Water Valley, a Peregrine Falcon flew over at speed looking like it meant business this morning, and a female Eurasian Sparrowhawk went over, carrying prey, over to the trees on the south side of Muchalls. I bet the curtains twitched as it flew past. As I got nearly back to Newtonhill, a Feral Pigeon flew lazily over my head... bad mistake, as it should have been running for its life. The Peregrine Falcon came up behind it on the level at full pelt and I heard the 'smack' as it hit and grabbed the pigeon away. It was 15 m right above my head, and i stood in the gentle shower of feathers as the Peregrine called 'ka-ka-ka-ka-ka' in triumph and the pigeon struggled and fluttered for a few seconds. Pretty hot.
And by the time I got back to Newtonhill, the Sparrowhawk was back bothering the Starlings - all go for the predators today.

In the evening, took Lizzie on her FIRST TWITCH. All the way to Stonehaven. A nice easy one, and to my surprise she was genuinely excited by spotting 'the white one'. A first winter Iceland Gull, against a backdrop of sewage-and-chips-eating Herring Gulls. Like this...

When I got home, I got to take a screwdriver and a hammer to an old shed, and then got in just in time to see the melting Nazies on Indiana Jones. Does life get better than that?

1 comment:

Steve said...

Do people in your neck of the woods trap (or shoot) cats? I couldn't feed birds in my yard if I had free-ranging/feral cats around. It would be creating an attractive nuisance. I'm coming to the conclusion that it is wrong for people to feed birds in their yards UNLESS they control cats in some way. It's getting really bad in the US now. Feral cat colonies in county's insane. Cleansing thought....saw or heard 24 Painted Buntings on a migration count on St. Catherine's Island off Georgia this weekend. Stunning birds. (oh yeah...island is cat-free - though has it's share of feral pigs)